Waste and your duty of care
All businesses produce waste and therefore have a legal responsibility to arrange for the safe disposal of this waste.
You have a legal responsibility to ensure that you store, transport and dispose of your commercial waste without harming the environment. This is called your duty of care. In most cases this involves arranging a contract with a registered waste carrier such as the council. For more information about our commercial waste and recycling services please contact us.
The duty of care is a law which says that you must take all reasonable steps to keep waste safe. If you give your waste to someone else, you must be sure they are authorised to take it, transport it, recycle and dispose of it safely.
Important facts about commercial waste disposal:
- In January 2015 the law changed on how the council and other waste management companies are allowed to collect recyclable materials. Where necessary and possible, glass, metals, paper, cardboard and plastic need to be collected separately and kept separated. The aim is to increase recycling and improve the quality of the materials collected. The law requires that we must collect this separately from your general waste.
- Waste disposal is not covered in your business rates and is therefore something that you need to pay for separately.
- Disposal of commercial waste by burning, using your household waste and recycling bins or boxes, disposing of it through one of the established Household Recycling Centres or Community Recycling Centres are not legitimate options.
Please read the following documents for more information:
- Acceptable waste criteria [PDF, 58Kb]
- List and description of European Waste Code (EWC)
- Environment Protection Act 1990
- New Hazardous/Special Waste Legislation [PDF, 53Kb]
If you transport any waste as part of your business then you will need to register as a waste carrier. You can be fined up to £5,000 if you do not register.
If it is your own waste you are transporting (for example, to a trade bin or skip at your depot, or to another premise where you have a trade bin) then you will be a lower tier waste carrier. Registration is free.
If you are transporting waste from another company then you will need to register as an upper tier waste carrier. There is a charge to register for this.
For more information on Waste Carriers Licences and to register as a waste carrier please visit the waste carrier pages of the Government website.
To check whether a company that collects your waste is registered as a waste carrier visit the Environment Agency website. You should be give a waste transfer note when your waste is taken away. These are a legal document and must be kept for a minimum of two years.
The waste hierarchy ranks waste management options according to what is best for the environment. It gives top priority to preventing waste in the first place. When waste is created it gives priority to preparing it for reuse, then recycling, then recovery and last of all disposal (for example, landfill).
Therefore, you will need to take all such measures as are reasonable to apply the waste hierarchy to prevent waste, and to apply the hierarchy as a priority order when you transfer waste to another person.
If you break these laws, you can be fined an unlimited amount.
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