B3.5.2.10 Active and Inactive Waste


These are terms relating to waste that is landfilled for the purposes of landfill tax charges.

The lower rate of landfill tax applies to the inactive (or inert) wastes listed in Schedule 9 of the Landfill Tax (Qualifying Material) Order 1996 [SI No. 1528]. Such waste are termed Qualifying Material, as in they qualify for the reduced rate of landfill tax.

Information listing the Inactive Waste from Schedule 9 has been consolidated into the table below:

Group Description Conditions Notes
Group 1 Rocks and soils Naturally occurring Group 1 includes clay, sand, gravel, sandstone, limestone, crushed stone, china clay, construction stone, stone from the demolition of buildings or structures, slate, topsoil, peat, silt and dredgings
Group 2 Ceramic or concrete materials Group 2 comprises only the following:(a) glass;

  • glass includes fritted enamel, but excludes glass fibre and glass-reinforced plastic.

(b) ceramics;

  • ceramics includes bricks, bricks and mortar, tiles, clay ware, pottery, china and refractories;

(c) concrete.

  • concrete includes reinforced concrete, concrete blocks, breeze blocks and aircrete blocks, but excludes concrete plant washings.
Group 3 Minerals Processed or prepared, not used Group 3 comprises only the following:(a) moulding sands;

  • moulding sands excludes sands containing organic binders;

(b) clays;

  • clays includes moulding clays and clay absorbents, including Fuller’s earth and bentonite;

(c) mineral absorbents;

(d) man-made mineral fibres;

  • man-made mineral fibres includes glass fibres, but excludes glass-reinforced plastic and asbestos.

(e) silica;

(f) mica;

(g) mineral abrasives.

Group 4 Furnace slags Group 4 includes:(a) vitrified wastes and residues from thermal processing of minerals where, in either case, the residue is both fused and insoluble;(b) slag from waste incineration.
Group 5 Ash Group 5:(a) comprises only bottom ash and fly ash from wood, coal or waste combustion; and(b) excludes fly ash from municipal, clinical and hazardous waste incinerators and sewage sludge incinerators.
Group 6 Low activity inorganic compounds Group 6 comprises only titanium dioxide, calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate, magnesium oxide, magnesium hydroxide, iron oxide, ferric hydroxide, aluminium oxide, aluminium hydroxide and zirconium dioxide
Group 7 Calcium sulphate Disposed of either at site not licensed to take putrescible waste or in containment cell which takes only calcium sulphate Group 7 includes gypsum and calcium sulphate based plasters, but excludes plasterboard.
Group 8 Calcium hydroxide and brine Deposited in brine cavity
Group 9 Water Containing other qualifying material in suspension


The higher rate of landfill tax applies to all other waste (that not listed in Schedule 9). These wastes are known as Active Waste.


Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has recently announced changes to the rules governing Landfill Tax.

Landfill tax should now be paid on material used to protect the overlying layers at the top of a landfill cell. Known as the ‘top fluff layer’, this equates to a metre of material underneath the clay cap in each cell – and, in the past, this has been regarded as engineering material and, as such, was not taxable.

The HMRC brief states that ‘fines and grits’ separated at waste treatment facilities, and topsoil, will no longer qualify for the reduced tax rate for inert materials.  As such they will be subject to the standard rate of tax as opposed to the previous lower rate.

The changes are set to have a big impact on the waste management sector, which has not previously had to shoulder landfill tax costs for these materials, with some suggesting that the knock on effect will likely significantly increase the cost of recycling and waste disposal as well as the cost of skip hire.