EWC Codes

In this article we’re going to look more in-depth at EWC Codes sometimes called List of Waste (LoW) codes.  As always our aim at Rubo is to promote the safe and responsible management of waste, so be sure to visit our webpage www.rubowaste.co.uk for regular information updates.

Anyone who has worked in the waste industry will have come across EWC codes, and we are all familiar with seeing the six-digit stream of numbers on transfer paperwork. It is important to remember that assigning the correct EWC code to waste is a legal requirement and comes for the EU’s Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2008/98/EC).


The ‘list of waste’ has nearly 1000 specific codes for waste, allowing you to accurately assign a suitable code to nearly any waste type imaginable. However, with such a long list how do you find the right code?

Appendix 1 of the Environment Agency’s Technical Guidance WM3 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/waste-classification-technical-guidance  cover in great depth how to assign a correct code, but the basic principle is really straight forward. The first thing to remember is that EWC codes not only describe the waste, but where the waste comes from.

Step 1: Pick the correct chapter - The list is split into 20 ‘chapters’ which refer to general industrial processes from which the waste was produced.

  • 01 wastes resulting from exploration, mining, quarrying, and physical and chemical treatment of minerals

  • 02 wastes from agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture, forestry, hunting and fishing, food preparation and processing

  • 03 wastes from wood processing and the production of panels and furniture, pulp, paper and cardboard

  • 04 wastes from the leather, fur and textile industries

  • 05 wastes from petroleum refining, natural gas purification and pyrolytic treatment of coal

  • 06 wastes from inorganic chemical processes

  • 07 wastes from organic chemical processes

  • 08 wastes from the manufacture, formulation, supply and use (mfsu) of coatings (paints, varnishes and vitreous enamels), adhesives, sealants and printing inks

  • 09 wastes from the photographic industry

  • 10 wastes from thermal processes

  • 11 wastes from chemical surface treatment and coating of metals and other materials, non-ferrous hydrometallurgy

  • 12 wastes from shaping and physical and mechanical surface treatment of metals and plastics

  • 13 oil wastes and wastes of liquid fuels (except edible oils, and those in chapters 05, 12 and 19)

  • 14 waste organic solvents, refrigerants and propellants (except 07 and 08)

  • 15 waste packaging, absorbents, wiping cloths, filter materials and protective clothing not otherwise specified

  • 16 wastes not otherwise specified in the list

  • 17 construction and demolition wastes (including excavated soil from contaminated sites)

  • 18 wastes from human or animal health care and/or related research (except kitchen and restaurant wastes not arising from immediate health care)

  • 19 wastes from waste management facilities, off-site wastewater treatment plants and the preparation of water intended for human consumption and water for industrial use

  • 20 municipal wastes (household waste and similar commercial, industrial and institutional wastes) including separately collected fractions

So it’s simply a case of choosing the best chapter heading that describes the process from which the waste was produced, and this gives you the first two digits for the 6 digits EWC code.

In the next article we’re going to look at how to generate the next 4 digits and how to assign a full EWC code to your waste, but if you need any help or assistance in managing your waste, please feel free to get in touch.

Hopefully, you have found this article helpful. Keep checking back for new articles, and if you have any hazardous waste management issues you wish to discuss with us, please contact us via info@rubowaste.co.uk or visit our website.