Reporting definitions and terms


*Recovery and Disposal codes Waste management activities are classed as recovery (R) or disposal (D), as defined in the Waste Framework Directive (2006/12/EC). The Scottish Government’s guidance on applying the waste hierarchy  provides advice on how waste management activities in Scotland should be defined as recovery and disposal.


Waste coding

Waste types are commonly classified using the European Waste Catalogue (EWC) list of wastes - a harmonised, non-exhaustive list of waste types established by the European Commission (2000/532/EC). Wastes are categorised based on a combination of what they are, and the process or activity that produces them. The list of waste is divided into 20 chapters, most of which are industry-based, although some are based on materials and processes. Each chapter is represented by a two-digit code between 01 and 20 and comprises one or more subchapters. Individual waste types are detailed in the subchapters and are assigned a six-digit code that comprises two digits for the chapter, two for the subchapter and two specific to the waste type. Hazardous wastes are signified by entries where the EWC code is marked by an asterisk (*). The use of list of waste codes to describe waste on waste transfer notes in Scotland has been statutory since April 2004 and they are also used in the waste data returns submitted to SEPA by operators of licensed/permitted waste management sites.

Waste reported to Europe under the Waste Statistics Regulations is categorised using the European Waste Catalogue for Statistics (EWC-Stat). This is a further aggregation of the list of waste codes and data for Scotland are prepared for reporting in this format by the Dataflows Unit. The EWC-Stat is a (mainly) substance-oriented statistical classification of waste established by the European Parliament and Council (Regulation (EC) No 2150/2002). The EWC-Stat contains 13 categories, each represented by a two-digit code between 01 and 13. These are subdivided into individual waste types. A table of equivalence allows wastes coded in the list of wastes to be converted into the EWC-Stat.  However, because of the way the coding system operates, it is not possible to do the reverse conversion.

Economic classifications - NACE and SIC codes

NACE is the statistical classification of economic activities within the European Community.  In this system, each industry sector is assigned a unique five or six digit code; for example, DA.15.83 is the Manufacture of sugar. The NACE system was revised in January 2008 (Regulation 1893/2006) and the latest version is known as NACE Rev. 2.

The United Kingdom Standard Industrial Classification of economic activities (UK SIC) is used to classify business establishments and other standard units by the type of economic activity in which they are engaged. The UK SIC is equivalent to NACE to the four digit level.

More about household waste

Local Authority Collected Waste (LACW) is all waste collected by or on behalf of a local authority. This includes household waste and all other waste coming under control of a local authority.

Local Authority Collected Municipal Waste (LACMW) refers to the previous 'municipal' element of the waste collected by local authorities and means household waste and similar business waste collected by or on behalf of local authorities. It is a slightly narrower category than LACW and includes all waste types included under European Waste Catalogue Code 20 and some waste under Codes 15 and 19. This is the definition which will be used for the Landfill Allowance Scheme Biodegradable Municipal Waste to landfill allocations.

Household waste is waste generated by households (and not as defined by the Controlled Waste Regulations 1992 which are concerned with charging for collection). Waste from households includes household collection rounds, other household collections such as bulky waste collections, waste deposited by householders at Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) and recycling points/ bring banks. The new definition therefore excludes non-domestic properties such as hospitals and nursing homes, residential hostels, residential homes, schools, universities and other educational facilities, caravan sites and campsites, self-catering holiday accommodation, prisons and penal institutions, public halls, royal palaces and premises occupied by charities and used for charitable purposes.

Local authorities report LACW data on a quarterly or monthly basis using WasteDataFlow - an online reporting system used by all UK local authorities. Authorised data held in WasteDataFlow can also be viewed by registered users, including the Scottish Government, Defra, Audit Scotland, members of the public and local authorities themselves.

SEPA uses LACW data for a wide range of purposes including:

  • monitoring the Landfill Allowance Scheme (LACMW only);
  • determining local authority recycling and composting rates and whether national targets are met (household waste only);
  • producing local authority waste management reports;
  • providing data for the annual Waste Data Digest;
  • providing data for other national and European reporting obligations.

Household waste FAQs

What is the difference between recycling and composting rates pre- and post-2011?

Only household waste is now used to measure Scotland’s progress towards the recycling targets. In previous years the recycling and composting rate was based on Local Authority Collected Municipal Waste (LACMW).

There is also a new definition for recycling, which sets out in detail what does and does not count. This is to move away from a focus on landfill diversion and towards high quality recycling of materials. Some activities no longer count towards local authority household recycling rates.

Why did it change?

To ensure that Scottish, UK and European targets are aligned. Also to focus on the service provided by local authorities to individual households.

What is not included?

The current definition of household waste does not include waste collected from:

  • hospitals and nursing homes
  • residential hostels and homes that are not private residences
  • schools, universities and other educational facilities
  • caravan sites and campsites
  • self catering holiday accommodation
  • prisons and penal institutions
  • public halls
  • royal palaces
  • premises occupied by charities and used for charitable purposes.

What counts as recyclable?

In the current definition of recycling:

  • Only recyclable materials that find markets for re-processing are classed as recycled
  • Compost-like outputs from the biological treatment of mixed waste no longer counts as recycling. In order to contribute to recycling, the biodegradable materials such as paper, car, garden waste and food should be separated from mixed waste at source and processed into high quality products, composts and digestates.
  • Using the bottom ash from incineration in construction products (such as aggregate and road beds) does not count towards the household waste recycling target. Incinerating resources such as paper, card, plastic and food and using the ash is not the same as ‘closed loop’ recycling of those same materials into new products.

What are the recycling targets?

The Scottish Government has set target rates for the recycling and composting of municipal waste. The targets are set in Annex A of the Zero Waste Plan 2010. These targets are based on calendar year data and they are carbon-based. The carbon metric calculation report can be found on The Scottish Government website.

Calendar year Recycling and composting target rates
 2010  40%
 2013  50%
 2020  60%
 2025  70%

Will this definition help Scotland reach its targets?

The new definition of household waste, plus new restrictions on what is classed as recycling, will ensure that Scotland focuses on closed loop recycling. It may actually make it harder to meet the targets, as local authorities will have to focus on high quality material capture from households and engage with communities to progress further increases in recycling. This work will ensure Scotland progresses towards becoming a true Zero Waste society.

What about recycling and composting statistics for all the other waste collected by local authorities?

Data on how local authorities deal with all their waste are available in the household waste data page

How can we compare how we did this year to how we have done previously if we are looking at different figures?

SEPA has published the equivalent recycling rate (calculated under the old guidance) beside the current recycling rates in the household waste summary reports. This will allow for some comparison. SEPA has also published the rolling year recycling rate for Scotland according to the old guidance.