Landfill regulations

On 16th July 2002, the new landfill regulations came into force implementing the EC Landfill Directive in the UK. The aim of the regulations is to 'reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment during the lifecycle of landfill'. As such, it introduces a range of technical requirements for operators of landfill sites but also introduces changes relevant to producers and managers of waste from both non-municipal and municipal sources.

Technical requirements relevant to landfill operators

Site classification

All landfill operators are required to have submitted Site Conditioning Plans to the Environment Agency (or Scottish Environmental Protection Agency) effectively requiring all sites to be classified as:

  • Hazardous
  • Non-hazardous
  • Inert

Engineering and operation

The landfill regulations impose strict requirements for the location, design and operation of landfill sites including the control of gas and leachate and the types of wastes which can be accepted. Landfill operators of all classes of landfill site must follow procedures which enable them to understand the types of wastes they are accepting (Waste Acceptance Proceedures) and must thereby ensure that they do not accept any banned waste types (see landfill bans) or wastes which are outside the limits of the Waste acceptance Criteria (WAC).

Technical requirements relevant to all producers and managers of waste

Waste Acceptance Procedures (WAP)

All permitted landfill sites are governed by Waste Acceptance Procedures, which define the particular controls and checks that will have to be applied by site operators on all wastes that arrive at the site for disposal. Landfill operators will require waste descriptions and any relevant waste analysis to be renewed at regular intervals. This could be required as frequently as every load but is likely to be required at least annually. Waste producers, should through liaison with their waste manager, make themselves aware of these requirements for each waste stream that they send to landfill.

Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC)

Hazardous and Inert landfill sites are subject to strict limits on the behaviour of wastes which they accept. This takes the form of limits upon the amounts of certain compounds that can be washed out of the wastes being accepted. The laboratory tests used to determine this are known as the LS10 LS8 and LS2 leachability tests.

Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC) limits do not apply at non-hazardous sites.


A number of landfill disposal bans also come into force under the Landfill Regulations.

Currently, explosive, corrosive, oxidising, flammable infectious wastes, whole tyres and shredded tyres are all banned from all classes of landfill site.

From the 16th of July 2002, liquid wastes were banned from Hazardous landfill sites. From the 31st of October 2007 liquid wastes were banned from all classes of landfill. Liquid waste is defined as:

  • Any waste that near instantaneously flows into an indentation void made in the surface of the waste.
  • Any waste (load) containing free draining liquid substances (defined above) in excess of 250 litres or 10% (whichever is lesser)

The effect of all these restrictions will be to reduce disposal options for waste collectors and potentially, add cost to difficult wastes.


The Landfill Regulations also introduce the concept of pre-treatment of waste. This requires that with immediate effect, any landfill that has been granted its license or permit since July 2001 must only take waste that is pre-treated. From July 2004, all hazardous sites must only take waste that is pre-treated. From the 30th of October 2007, all other sites will only be able to accept waste that has been pre-treated.

The requirement to pre-treat waste prior to landfill applies to both municipal and non-municipal waste. However, because of the special requirements placed upon the managers of municipal wastes streams (by the Landfill Regulations) this requirement is applied very differently to wastes from such sources.

Non-municipal waste

Pre-treatment has been defined as a process that reduces a waste's weight or hazardous nature, facilitates its handling or enhances its recovery. Often this requirement can be met by some recycling being applied to waste from most premises.

Municipal waste - biodegradable reduction targets

The EU Landfill Directive imposes targets for the reduction of biodegradable municipal waste to landfill which are implemented through the Landfill Regulations. Based on 1995 levels of input, they require 25% reduction by 2010, 50% by 2013 and 65% by 2020.

Because of the plans put in place by Local Authorities to meet these targets, all residual municipal waste sent to landfill is deemed as being pre-treated.

More information is available in the pre-treatment requirements section of our website.