Industry sector: Business services

Waste collection: Licences

Registration as a waste carrier

As your business will be involved in transporting controlled wastes you will require a certificate of registration as an upper tier waste carrier or broker (waste carrier in Scotland). These are issued by the Environment Agency in England, Natural Resources Wales, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). In England and Wales this currently costs about £155 for the initial registration fee and a further renewal fee of about £105 every three years. The fees are slightly higher in Scotland and a bit lower in Northern Ireland. Note that a single licence is issued to your business covering all of your waste transporting vehicles. Waste carrier licensing in England and Wales comes within the environmental permitting regime (see below).

Environmental permit/waste management licence

If you are going to store any waste at your premises then, unless the amounts are small or an exemption applies, in England and Wales you will need an environmental permit authorising the site as a licensed waste transfer station permitted to carry out specified waste-related activities. The cost of a site licence varies, depending on factors such as the type and amount of waste handled and the specific activities undertaken - several thousand pounds per site is not unusual. The licence lasts until it is surrendered (or revoked following a breach of the conditions), but an annual subsistence charge is payable to cover the cost of inspections and so on. The subsistence charge will also vary, and once again may run to several thousand pounds.

If you have an environmental permit as a waste transfer station you do not need to register separately as a waste broker or dealer if you arrange for waste that you've acquired to be disposed of or stored on sites covered by your permit. But if you send the waste to a site not covered by your permit then you'll need to register with the Environment Agency as an upper tier waste broker.

Businesses in Scotland and Northern Ireland that deposit, treat, keep or dispose of waste normally require a waste management licence. As with environmental permits, there is an application fee and an annual subsistence charge.

To find out more about environmental permitting in England, contact the Environment Agency. You can get contact details on the Environment Agency section of the website. Outside England, contact Natural Resources Wales, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency or SEPA. More information about environmental permitting and waste management licensing is also available on the website.

Other licences and permits

You should also be aware of the following:

  • you will need an operator's licence if you use any vehicles which are over 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight and your drivers must be appropriately licensed
  • if you deal with asbestos waste then you will need to be licensed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Asbestos Licensing Unit - or by the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI)
  • if you collect and sell large quantities of metal you may need a scrap metal dealer's licence