The Landfill ( England and Wales ) Regulations 2002 came into force on 15 June 2002 . These new regulations implement the Landfill Directive (Council Directive 1999/31/EC), which aims to prevent, or to reduce as far as possible, the negative environmental effects of landfill. The regulations will have a major impact on waste regulation and industry in the UK .

Existing landfills must demonstrate that they will be able to comply with the directive if they wish to operate beyond July 2002. The ability to comply will be reviewed through a conditioning plan form that must have been submitted to the Environment Agency by 16 July 2002 .

Nine out of 10 operators submitted their conditioning plans to the Environment Agency on time. We have received 896 of the expected 1,045 conditioning plans from operators (figures correct as of 19 July 2002 ).

Following submission, the plans will be assessed and prioritised against a standard set of criteria by the Environment Agency’s Conditioning Plan Assessment Centre. Operators will be required to apply for a PPC permit, based on the conditioning plan prioritisation, between 2003 and 2006.

Changes are likely to be required to operating landfills over the next few years in order to comply with the Landfill Directive. For example, the Directive sets challenging national targets for the reduction of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill.

In summary, the Directive requires that:

  • Sites are to be classified into one of three categories: hazardous, non-hazardous or inert, according to the type of waste they will receive
  • Operators submit site conditioning plans for all existing sites by 16 July 2002
  • Operators demonstrate that they and their staff are technically competent to manage the site and have made adequate financial provisions to cover the maintenance and aftercare requirements of the site
  • Higher engineering and operating standards will be followed
  • Biodegradable waste will be progressively diverted away from landfills
  • Certain hazardous and other wastes, including liquids, will be prohibited from landfills
  • Pre-treatment of wastes prior to landfilling will become a requirement

The Environment Agency has a statutory responsibility for the regulation of landfill sites and will have a primary responsibility for implementing the landfill regulations. In preparing for implementation of the directive, the Environment Agency is proposing to review and update existing technical guidance on landfill development and operation.

A brief guide to Landfill Waste Acceptance Criteria

This is an introduction to the rules for accepting waste at landfills. It represents our current understanding of the position and may be subject to change. A list of more detailed guidance is at the end of this note.

The Landfill Directive aims to reduce reliance on landfill as a disposal option, minimise the impacts of landfills on the environment and human health, and ensure consistent standards across the EU. It aims to do this by:

  • setting minimum standards for the location, design, construction and operation of landfills
  • setting targets for diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill
  • controlling the nature of waste accepted for landfill

This note is concerned with the latter element - waste acceptance criteria (WAC).


Historically, decisions on the types of waste acceptable at landfills were entirely based on site-specific risk assessment. Licences controlled the quantities and types of waste to be accepted and often, in the case of hazardous waste, specified maximum loading rates for particular wastes or components substances. Landfill operators had to have systems (acceptance procedures) in place to ensure that incoming waste was within those limits.

Those producing waste or delivering waste for landfill had an obligation under the Duty of Care to ensure that the waste was properly described. This is still the case.

The Landfill Directive requires that individual landfills accept only hazardous waste or non-hazardous waste or inert waste hence ending (since July 2004) the practice of co-disposal. The move to dedicated landfills for hazardous waste has dictated tighter controls over site engineering and 'quality' of the waste going into the sites.

The Directive specifically restricts waste inputs in two ways:

  • By explicitly banning certain wastes from landfill
  • By applying acceptance criteria to waste destined for landfill. EU-wide acceptance criteria were adopted in December 2002.

In England and Wales waste going to landfill is controlled under the following regulations:

  • The Landfill ( England and Wales ) Regulations 2002
  • The Landfill ( England and Wales ) (Amendment) Regulations 2004
  • The Landfill ( England and Wales ) (Amendment) Regulations 2005

The 2002 regulations are already in force. The 2004 regulations are partly in force and together with the 2005 regulations come fully into force from 16th July.