The following article introduces the concept of the waste hierarchy, and provides advice to businesses and organisations to enable them to adhere to required regulatory standards.


Article 4 of the revised Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2008/98/EC) sets out five steps for dealing with waste, ranked according to environmental impact - the "waste hierarchy".

Prevention, which offers the best outcomes for the environment, is at the top of the priority order; followed by preparing for re-use, recycling, other recovery and disposal, in descending order of environmental preference.

The Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 transpose for Northern Ireland the revised Waste Framework Directive. The Regulations came into operation on 8 April 2011. Regulation 17 of these introduces a duty on waste operators to comply with the waste hierarchy and this duty comes into operation on 8 October 2011.

What you need to do

If your business or organisation (including district councils on behalf of householders) produces or handles waste (this includes importing, producing, collecting, carrying, keeping, treating or disposing of waste; brokers or dealers who have control of waste, and anyone responsible for the transfer of waste), you must take all such measures as are reasonable in the circumstances to:

  • prevent waste, and;
  • apply the waste hierarchy when you transfer waste

Guidance documents and regulations

The Department has published a package of guidance to assist businesses and other organisations in Northern Ireland to make better decisions on waste and resource management. This guidance considers the environmental impacts of various waste management options for a range of materials and be accessed using the link below:

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