End of waste regulations

This article outlines the conditions when a substance or object can be deemed to cease being a waste product.

Article 6 of the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC details conditions to be satisfied for a certain specified waste to cease to be waste, namely:

  • the substance or object is commonly used for specific purposes;
  • a market or demand exists for such a substance or object;
  • the substance or object fulfils the technical requirements for the specific purposes and meets the existing legislation and standards applicable to products; 
  • the use of the substance or object will not lead to overall adverse environmental or human health impacts

End of waste can normally be determined using one of three methods:

  • compliance with end of waste regulations
  • meeting a quality protocol
  • a successful determination for an end of waste submission

End of Waste regulations

The European Commission (EC) has adopted two End of Waste regulations:

For these materials to cease to be waste the following applies:

  • a specified quality criteria must be achieved and a producer or importer must be able to issue a statement of conformity
  • a certified quality management system must be in place which can demonstrate compliance with the quality criteria

Quality protocols

The quality protocols set out how to fully recover wastes and turn them into quality products.

It defines the point at which waste ceases to be waste and can be used as a product without the requirement for waste management controls.  By following quality protocols, producers can create sustainable resources in which end users can have confidence.

The project is a partnership between the Environment Agency, WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), NIEA and Welsh Government.

The benefits of Quality Protocols are significant.  It is estimated that by 2020 the first 12 Quality Protocols will create around £1 billion in business savings and increased sales of waste-derived products; divert 17 million tones of waste from landfill;  and avert 2.1 million tonnes in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (CO2)1

Compliance with Quality Protocols is voluntary. If producers do not comply with the quality protocol in full, the waste will still be regarded as waste and the onward transfer and use of the waste will be subject to the requirements of the Waste Management Licensing Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 and Amendments.

The NIEA has published the following Quality protocols:

Quality protocols set out end of waste criteria for the production and use of a product from a specific waste type.  Compliance with these criteria is considered sufficient to ensure that, the fully recovered product may be used without undermining the effectiveness of the Waste Framework Directive and therefore without the need for waste management controls.

To make a submission to NIEA please consult the guidance and use the form provided further down on this page.

End of Waste submissions

End of waste is a process to facilitate the recovery or recycling of waste for use as a resource, to directly replace the use of raw materials.  The NIEA provides a view by assessing each submission against the following:

  • Waste law principles
  • Waste Framework Directive
  • OSS test2

The OSS test

  • the waste has been converted into a distinct and marketable product
  • the processed substance can be used in exactly the same way as a non-waste
  • the processed substance can be stored and be used with no worse environmental effects when compared to the raw material it is intended to replace

Please see the links below to the End of Waste submission form and guidance.  The detailed End of Waste guidance explains the information and the level of detail that must be supplied, to satisfy each of the elements of Article 6 of the Waste Framework Directive and the elements of the OSS Test.  The guidance explains the requirements, to produce a complete submission.

For further information on End of Waste submissions please contact NIEA on (028) 9056 9359

The NIEA will review submissions and offer a view about whether the material satisfies the “End of Waste” test.

Please note that the views provided are specific to each submission. There is no charge associated with this process and there is no appeal process in relation to the view offered, as NIEA are merely providing a view based on the information submitted. Please also note that only a court can provide a definitive view, based on the information provided for a case it is considering.

As a public authority we are subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) and the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) 2004. If you consider that any of the information within your submission is confidential, it is important that you understand that as a public authority we are obliged to disclose information that we hold, when we are subject to requests under this legislation.


1The above figures are based on Financial Impact Assessments (FIA’s) conducted on the first 12 Quality Protocols over a 10 year period UK wide. The FIA’s are conducted in accordance with the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and HM Treasury guidelines and are conservative.

2OSS test [the case of R (on application of OSS Group ltd) v Environment Agency and others [2007] EWCA Civ 611) (“OSS”) where Lord Justice Carnwath established a test to determine when waste lubricating oil ceased to be waste, having been subject to a waste recovery operation].

Back to top