The European Waste Catalogue (EWC) is an essential reference document for all industrial and commercial waste producers as well as for those in the waste industry. It originates from EU Decision 2000/532/EC, the latest version of which was issued in 2014 (see Decision 2014/955/EU). Anyone with responsibility for waste should have access to a copy of the latest version of the EWC and will need to refer to it when completing the documentation required under waste legislation. It is essentially a list of hundreds of types of waste, drawn up by the European Commission. Its purpose is to ensure that waste legislation is implemented in a consistent way across the EU. In the UK, it is often known as the List of Wastes.

The Environment Agency has published an essential technical guidance document, WM3 Waste Classification: Guidance on the Classification and Assessment of Waste. It was first published in May 2015 and the latest version was published on October 2021. This also contains the most up-to-date, helpful colour-coded version of the EWC/List of Wastes. Anyone involved in classifying hazardous waste should first refer to WM3.

The EWC codes are used to identify waste types in legislation and guidance. For example, the Environmental Permitting Regulations use EWC codes to identify categories of waste activity that are exempt from permitting. The Environment Agency uses the codes to specify which types of waste can be accepted by disposal or treatment facilities under the terms of their environmental permits.

Quick Facts

Key points you need to know on this topic.


Detailed information on all matters in this topic.