What is a waste carriers licence?

What is a waste carriers licence?
10th June 20206 min read

A waste carrier licence is an accreditation that allows individuals and organisations to transport, buy, sell, or dispose of waste. The licence also lets them arrange for another entity to dispose, buy, or sell waste. The overall aim of the scheme is to reduce the damage waste causes to the environment.

What’s the importance of a waste carrier licence?

Due to the continued importance of sustainability and caring for the environment, a waste carrier licence is imperative for all sectors – not only the motor industry. Individuals and organisations have a duty of care to dispose of their waste the right way.

Based on the Environmental Protection Act 1990, sensible steps need to be taken so that your vehicle is dismantled and recycled without damaging the environment. This is why you should always take the car to a scrapyard which possesses a waste carrier licence or use a online authorised scrap partner who may collect your car for free.

How do you apply and obtain a waste carriers licence?

If you’re wondering how to get a waste carriers licence, the process is a straightforward one. To begin with, applying for a licence is dependent on the country and the environmental department it is represented by. For example, the Environmental Agency covers waste carriers licence legislation in England.

When registered, you will receive the following: 

  • Waste carrier licence
  • Licence number
  • Listed on a central database

The initial registration lasts three years. After this, the licence will need to be renewed. Depending on the situation, registration and renewal can both be free. Otherwise, they will both require a nominal fee.

How does a licensed waste carrier recycle a car?

Funnily enough, a scrap car isn’t judged as waste until the destruction process begins. Yet once it does start, the entire vehicle will be recycled or turned into waste. 

It might be surprising to know, but 95% of a vehicle is recycled, recovered, or reused. This is due to the regulations brought in by the End of Life Vehicles Directive in 2015. As a result, intricate treatment processes are used to treat virtually all components of a car, ensuring they don’t go to waste.

Car materials that can be recovered and recycled include: 

  • All steel elements
  • Windows 
  • Tyres
  • Mats, seats, and fabrics
  • Radiators
  • Belts and hoses
  • Batteries
  • Gearbox and transmission materials

Nevertheless, waste – such as lubricants and oils – is still created. This then needs to be dealt with correctly by the scrapyard.

What can be recycled on a car?

Waste license: the difference between England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland

As expected, there are variations to the waste carriers licence rules between each country in the United Kingdom. Here’s a quick breakdown on the differences, including the waste carriers licence cost and registration details for each.

  • Waste carriers licence (England): In England, there are two different waste transfer licence options available: “upper tier” and “lower tier.” For those under the lower tier classification, there is no fee to register. For an upper tier registration, this will cost £154. After every three years, an upper tier registration will need to be renewed at a fee of £105.
  • Waste carriers licence (Wales): For a waste management licence in Wales, it is necessary to register with Natural Resource Wales. The country utilises the same “upper tier” and “lower tier” system as England, and the upper tier registration and renew fees are also identical. To renew waste carriers licence in Wales or England, this can be done through the Environmental Licences Waste Carrier Licence Renewal Form.
  • Waste carriers licence (Scotland): When you apply for a waste carriers licence in Scotland, you need to first contact the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). For a SEPA waste carriers licence, there are two registration types available. Firstly, there’s the professional carriers of waste registration which covers various different fields. No fee is involved with this option, and there might not even be a need to register if waste is only carried on occasion. For those not deemed a ‘professional carrier,’ they will have to register as either a carrier or broker – or both. Registration costs £174, while renewal is £119 every three years. For those who want to add either a carrier or broker category to their current registration, this costs £43.
  • Waste carriers licence (NI): The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) must be contacted by those seeking a waste carrying licence. NI also uses a “lower tier” and “upper tier” system. There is no fee for those under the lower tier category, whereas there are fees for registering and renewing as an upper tier waste carrier.

There is one aspect that is shared between the four countries: if you fail to sign up on the relevant waste carriers register, you can be fined up to £5,000 in total.

What’s the difference between an upper and lower tier waste carriers licence?

As mentioned above, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland both implement an “upper tier” and “lower tier” system. For waste carriers licence guidance notes regarding these two categories, here’s a quick breakdown:

Lower tier

A business or person will fall under the lower tier category if:

  • They only carry waste that they produce - the exceptions to this are demolition and construction waste
  • They only deal, arrange, and carry waste from agricultural premises, mines and quarries, and animal by-products
  • They are a voluntary or charity organisation

Upper tier

If none of the criteria from the lower tier apply, an upper tier waste carrier licence is likely required. A business or person will fall under the upper tier category if:

  • They carry demolition and construction waste 
  • They buy or sell waste - this also applies if they use an agent to carry this out
  • They transport the waste of others
  • They arrange for other businesses’ waste to be recovered, transported, or disposed of

What are the rules for those with a waste carriers licence?

There are many different rules that a waste carrier licence owner needs to follow. Along with picking the right category, as mentioned above, there are various regulations for different industries and situations, as noted in the Environmental Licences FAQ. 

If a person or organisation needs a licence, but skips the waste carrier registration process, they are committing an illegal activity each time they deal with waste. If caught, they will be prosecuted. This will result in not just a fine, but the vehicle used to move the waste will be seized. 

How to do a waste carriers licence check?

If you want to see what businesses currently possess a waste carrier licence, this can be done by viewing the waste carrier register provided by the Environment Agency. Alternatively, you can phone 08708 506506 for more information about whether a business is on the Environment Agency public registers.

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