The Hierarchy Of Waste

The waste hierarchy has been transposed into UK law through the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011.  The Regulations came into force on 29 March 2011.  The provisions relating to the hierarchy (set out at in Regulations 12, 15 and 35) came into force on 28 September 2011.

The waste hierarchy and food waste

How the waste hierarchy affects food waste produced by businesses of all sizes is very important.



  1. Prevention:

Using less material in design and manufacture. Keeping products for longer; re-use. Using less hazardous materials

  1. Preparing for re-use:

Checking, cleaning, repairing, refurbishing, whole items or spare parts

  1. Recycling:

Turning waste into a new substance or product. Includes composting if it meets quality protocols

  1. Other recovery:

Includes anaerobic digestion, incineration with energy recovery, gasification and Pyrolysis which produce energy (fuels, heat and power) and materials from waste; some backfilling

  1. Disposal:

Landfill and incineration without energy recovery


What the business that produces food waste must do

If your business or organisation (including local authorities on behalf of householders) produces or handles waste (this includes importing, producing, carrying, keeping or treating waste; dealers or brokers 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.

If you have the option to recycle food waste, and there are food recycling companies with national coverage, then you must apply the waste hierarchy or risk civil sanctions enforced by the Environment Agency.


DEFRA definitions

re-use’ means any operation by which products or components that are not waste are used again for the same purpose for which they were conceived;

‘preparing for re-use’ means checking, cleaning or repairing recovery operations, by which products or components of products that have become waste are prepared so that they can be re-used without any other pre-processing;

‘recycling’ means any recovery operation by which waste materials are reprocessed into products, materials or substances whether for the original or other purposes. It includes the reprocessing of organic material but does not include energy recovery and the reprocessing into materials.

‘recovery’ means any operation the principal result of which is waste serving a useful purpose by replacing other materials which would otherwise have been used to fulfil a particular function, or waste being prepared to fulfil that function, in the plant or in the wider economy.

‘disposal’ means any operation which is not recovery even where the operation has as a secondary consequence the reclamation of substances or energy. Annex I sets out a non-exhaustive list of disposal operations;


War On Waste via our partners can offer a national recycling service for commercial and business food waste by means of AD ( anaerobic digestion ) or IVC ( in vessel composting ) whereby all food waste collected is 100% recycled and makes you fully compliant with the waste hierarchy.

Businesses that put food waste into their general waste bin, which is sent to landfill, when they have the opportunity to have it recycled are in contravention of the waste hierarchy.

It is important to note that the producer of the food waste must sign and date a declaration on their waste transfer note that “they have applied the waste hierarchy”.

To find a solution for your food waste and have it recycled contact: