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Segregating waste

Waste includes any material, effluent or unwanted surplus substance or article that is sent for disposal because it is broken, worn out, contaminated or otherwise spoiled. Wastes are ‘those substances or objects which fall out of the commercial cycle or chain of utility.

Natural Resources Wales is the legal body in Wales that regulates certain types of waste – known as 'controlled wastes'. These include household, industrial and commercial waste. Other wastes called 'non-controlled' (agriculture, mines and quarries) are not currently regulated in the same way.

What is a hazardous waste?

Certain wastes are classified as ‘hazardous’. This is a broad term for a wide range of substances that may have variable levels of risk. For instance, toxic substances that may cause cancer are classed as hazardous. Fluorescent tubes or cathode ray tubes in televisions are also classed as hazardous and pose little immediate threat but may cause long term damage over a period of time. Guidance for assessment of hazardous waste can be found on GOV UK website


Many materials that would in the past be disposed of to landfill or burned can now be collected and recycled in to new products. Key materials readily recycled include paper, cardboard, glass, wood and some plastics. Your collection service provider or local authority will be able to provide detailed guidance on what can be recycled in your area and this will depend on the availability of dedicated collection services and the location of reprocessing facilities. Collection of materials segregated at source is key to the production of high quality recycle for use in the production of new products as contamination can lead to rejection of loads and disposal to landfill.

What is residual waste?

Residual waste is a term used for waste that cannot be recycled or the waste left after all recyclables have been removed. It can also mean the residual waste that remains after waste treatment.

Food Waste

Food waste could be costing your business up to £1,800 per tonne. Diversion of food waste from the general waste stream is a priority for the Welsh Government and significant investment has been made in the development of anaerobic digestion plants to convert food waste in to energy. When not separated food waste is often consigned to landfill where it breaks down anaerobically and produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas, it also contaminates other potential recycles such as paper and card preventing them from being recycled. The separate collection and treatment of food waste ensures that emissions are avoided, providing reassurance that the food waste is being recovered and harnessed into renewable energy and/or fertiliser or compost. Visit WRAP which provides guidance and outlines business benefits for recycling food.

What is classified as bulky waste?

Bulky waste can be defined by type, by weight and by volume. The legal definition of “bulky waste” is:

  • any article of waste which exceeds 25 kilograms in weight; and/or 
  • any article of waste which does not fit, or cannot be fitted into: 
    • a receptacle for household waste provided in accordance with section 46 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990; or 
    • where no such receptacle is provided, a cylindrical container 750 millimetres in diameter and 1 metre in length.

Collection authorities describe bulky items as “those that you would take with you when you move” On this assumption, this would include furniture, electrical appliances such as white goods, bicycles, rugs, garden furniture and other portable household items. It would exclude carpets or underlay, kitchen or bathroom units (for example those that are generally fixed to the wall), black bag waste, doors and windows, fencing panels or gates, greenhouses or sheds, boilers or storage heaters.

What if I have Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment

If you use, manufacture, import, re-brand, distribute, sell, store, treat, dismantle, recycle, or dispose of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) then the WEEE legislation potentially affects your organisation. There are requirements associated with separate collection, disposal and recycling; standards for its treatment at authorised facilities; and collection, recycling and recovery targets. Guidance is available at GOV UK.