What is an EWC Code?

Posted on
Tagged: , , , ,

What is an EWC Code?

The short answer to what is an EWC code is the code used to identify waste as listed in the European Waste Catalogue. It is also referred to as LoW (List of Waste) or Waste Classification Code. All waste produced will have a corresponding EWC code. It is a legal requirement that any waste produced by your business that is sent for recycling or disposal must be classified using an EWC code.

The European Waste Catalogue is made up of roughly 650 codes divided across 20 chapters. Each chapter is subdivided into categories. The EWC code itself is consists of six digits. Whereas an asterisk next to the code denotes that the waste is considered as hazardous.

Why do you need an EWC code?

The primary purpose of identifying and following the prescribed movement and waste management options is to prevent harm to people and the environment.

Not only is it a legal requirement of your Duty of Care as stipulated by the Environmental Protection Act 1990, all reputable waste management companies will require you to include the relevant EWC code on paperwork. For example, a waste transfer note (WTN) or for hazardous waste the consignment note.

The EWC code provides a standardised description of different wastes which enables waste to be recorded and monitored effectively. Classifying the waste will help you to decide on the most appropriate treatment process. In addition, the code will also:

  • identify the controls that apply to the movement of the waste
  • identify suitably authorised waste management options
  • provide guidance on whether waste is classified as hazardous or non-hazardous

Will Brexit affect EWC codes?

The EWC has already been transposed into UK law via the List of Wastes (LOW) Regulations. It is therefore unlikely that there will be any impact in the short-term.

How to find the correct code?

The Environment Agency has published guidance on how to identify the correct EWC code at https://www.gov.uk/how-to-classify-different-types-of-waste you can also download the waste classification technical guidance document from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/waste-classification-technical-guidance and read the Technical Guidance WM3: waste classification – Guidance on the classification and assessment of waste.

Alternatively, you can speak to one of our experienced Novus Environmental team members.


The Campus has been using Novus Environmental for nearly 20 years now. The quantity of waste that we now dispose of has more than doubled in those years. We have always found them to both competitive and cooperative.The service is just as good now as it was then.