Defra issues guidance on the legal definition of waste


A guidance document analysing the legal definition of waste has been published by Defra.

It has been put together by Defra, the Welsh Government, the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland, the Environment Agency and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.


The guidance aims to provide a legal analysis of Article 3(1) in the 2008 Waste Framework Directive, which defines waste as “any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard”.

It is hoped that the guidance will help people to make decisions on what constitutes a waste and when it ceases to be a waste through processes such as recycling.

The document says: “Businesses and other organisations take decisions about whether something is or is not waste on a day-to-day basis. In most cases, the decision is straightforward and whoever is taking the decision does not need guidance from the competent authorities to help them take it.

“However, in some cases, the decision is more difficult (eg where the substance or object has a value or a potential use or where the decision is about whether waste has been fully recovered or recycled and has therefore ceased to be waste). The aim of the guidance is to help ensure the right decision is taken in these more difficult cases.”