UK Facilities Management & Consultancy

How do you safely dispose of international catering waste?

We explain how to check if your waste is international catering waste (ICW) and how to store, transport and dispose of it safely.

What is International Catering Waste (ICW)?

International catering waste (ICW) is food waste from international transport vehicles including:

  • cruise ships
  • airlines
  • private or commercial yachts and boats
  • armed forces ships and submarines
  • ferries

Food and drink is not considered ICW until it is no longer intended for human consumption or has been mixed with food waste. For example, a carton of milk is considered ICW only when thrown away.

ICW is a high-risk category 1 animal by-product (ABP).

ICW includes all food waste from planes, vehicles or ships travelling internationally and within EU territory. Food waste from planes, vehicles or ships is classified domestic catering waste when:

  • operating within the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man
  • travelling from Northern Ireland to Great Britain

In accordance with the Northern Ireland protocol, the EU classifies food waste from planes, vehicles or ships travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland as ICW.

Find out about the 3 different categories of ABP.

There are controls on how you handle and dispose of ICW to prevent outbreaks of notifiable diseases like foot and mouth disease.


When is your waste considered ICW?

Your waste is considered ICW if your vessel or aircraft travels outside the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, even if you stocked up for the entire journey in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.


How do you safely store ICW?

You must have your ICW stored in a dedicated container that is:

  • covered
  • leak-proof
  • clearly labelled ‘Category 1 – for disposal only’

You can use a compactor to reduce the waste volume, as long as you:

  • keep it in a covered area
  • control any liquid run-off
  • clean and disinfect areas contaminated with liquid run-off

Many ports and airports will have these containers on site.


How can you safely transport ICW?

You must send ICW for disposal as quickly as possible after the vessel or aircraft has docked or landed.

You must clean and disinfect any containers that held ICW after each use, with a Defra-approved disinfectant.

Find out how to transport ABPs, and how to label any ABPs you move.


How can you safely dispose of ICW?

You can only dispose of ICW by

  • processing used cooking oil into biodiesel in an approved plant
  • combusting it for use as fuel, at an approved plant, with or without prior processing
  • incinerating or co-incinerating it without prior processing and following processing (methods 1-5) and permanent marking by use of glyceryl tri-heptanoate (GTH)
  • disposal by pressure sterilisation and deep burial in an authorised landfill
  • disposal by deep burial in an authorised landfill (no pre-treatment is required)

You must not use ICW in biogas or composting plants.

You must keep records and copies of commercial documents for the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to inspect.

Find out more about incinerating ABPs.


Who is responsible for disposal?

The responsibility for identifying and disposing of ICW lies with either:

  • the private owner of the vessel or aircraft
  • the company that owns the vessel or aircraft
  • the armed force that operates the vessel or aircraft

If you hire a company to move ICW off your boat or aircraft, you’re still responsible for making sure it’s identified and disposed of legally.


Waste disposal: shipmasters’ responsibilities

Before your merchant boat, ship or fishing vessel leaves a harbour or terminal, you must send waste to a waste reception facility, unless your vessel has enough waste storage capacity for the next leg of the journey.

You must tell the harbour authority if you’re not unloading waste due to having enough storage capacity.


UK Facilities Management & Consultancy
UK Facilities Management & Consultancy


Recycling ICW and other materials

You must separate items for recycling before they are placed in a waste bin or plastic bag.

You cannot recycle items that have been mixed with pots of honey, milk or milk products, if they were treated in a treatment plant outside the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

You can recycle other items as long as they have not been mixed with catering waste. This includes:

  • confectionery
  • crisps and nuts
  • drinks not containing milk


Declaring waste as domestic catering waste

Any food waste produced by your vessel or aircraft while travelling within the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man will be considered domestic waste if:

  • you clean and disinfect all areas on your vessel that come into contact with food (galley, store rooms)
  • any restocking is done inside the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man

Vessels must complete a written declaration to show that all these actions have been taken.

Commercial planes don’t need a declaration.

On a ship, this must be completed by the ship’s master, and handed to the port, harbour, marina, boatyard or naval yard operator for audit by APHA.

For military air bases the declaration should be kept by the base for audit by APHA.

Private plane operators should leave the declaration with the airport operator for APHA to collect, or send it to the APHA office responsible for that airport.

Catering waste from submarines and fishing vessels that do not land outside the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man or re-stocked with food outside of UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man waters are not considered International catering waste.

Hazardous waste disposal, including animal by-products is a specialist field, in which UKFMC possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience, consequently we are fully compliant with all relevant legislation; in addition we can offer support and advice on completing all necessary documents and paperwork relating to the transport and disposal of your waste.

This information is licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0. except where otherwise stated.

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