Your waste responsibilities

Your business has a legal duty to make sure the waste it produces is handled safely and within the law. Here's some advice to help you understand your responsibilities and so you can check whether you need to do anything to make sure your current arrangements are satisfactory.

If you operate any form of business, you are covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990, and other related legislation. This means you need to safely contain and legally dispose of any waste produced. This is known as your duty of care.

It might seem obvious, but anything that is no longer required is classed as waste.

The law defines this as old mail, advertising materials you have been sent and do not want, used cleaning products, remains of food eaten on your premises, cardboard, plastics, sweepings, ashtray waste, packaging including boxes and bags, damaged goods that cannot be returned, invoices, receipts, delivery notes as well as any unwanted surplus materials. This is referred to as 'controlled waste'.

We know you wouldn't, but it's worth mentioning that you risk prosecution if you take your trade waste home and dispose of it in a domestic bin. The same applies if you use a public litter bin.

You need to make sure that anyone you pass your waste onto is authorised to take it away and is going to deal with it responsibly.

If you are arranging for collection of your waste (as your disposal method) you must ensure that you either:

  • obtain a waste transfer note for each and every individual load your contractor takes or
  • be in possession of a formalised on-going waste disposal agreement and
  • your contractor must be a registered waste carrier
  • you must have filled in the forms from your chosen contractor which must include your business details, the nature of the waste, the amount generated, frequency of collection, containers used etc

Alternatively, you can dispose of your own waste, provided you take it to an authorised site licensed to accept the type of waste you are generating.  For each and every load you take, you must obtain a document called waste transfer note or obtain some form of receipt showing:

  • your business name and address
  • address where the waste came from (if different from above)
  • where you took the waste for disposal (name and address of site)
  • what sort of waste it was (description)
  • how much of it there was (weight/volume)
  • when it was tipped (date)

You will also need to register as a 'lower tier carrier' of waste if you normally and regularly carry waste as part of your business. You should check with the Environment Agency on 0370 850 6506.

You will be breaking the law, and may be prosecuted, if you give your waste to anyone who is not registered and authorised to carry and dispose of controlled waste. It's also wise to check with the Environment Agency that your chosen contractor is authorised.

Document keeping

Whatever method of disposal you choose, you must ensure your records are retained for at least two years. This is because you may be asked to produce the waste transfer notes to at any time. A failure to produce waste transfers notes when required to do so is also an offence. You might be issued with a £300 fine or you could be prosecuted.

Our team of trade waste experts will help you keep on the right side of the law and ensure you have the correct paperwork in place. Please call 01423 500600 x51076 to speak to one of our friendly and knowledgeable team. You can also fill in our 'request a quote' online form so we can provide you with a no obligation quote.

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