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Duty of care legislation has been introduced for the provision of safe waste management. It is designed to protect both human health and the environment

All businesses within the UK must comply with section 34 in relation to the duty of care issued under the Environment Protection Act 1990.

You must take all reasonable steps to:

  • Prevent unauthorised or harmful deposit, treatment or disposal of waste.
  • Prevent a breach (failure) by any other person to meet the requirement to have an environmental permit, or a breach of a permit condition.
  • Prevent the escape of waste from your control.
  • Ensure that any person you transfer the waste to has the correct authorisation.
  • Provide an accurate description of the waste when it is transferred to another person.

Failure to comply with the Duty of Care requirements is a criminal offence and could lead to prosecution.

What businesses should do

Businesses must take all reasonable measures to apply the waste hierarchy by following these steps:

  • Reduce. Produce less waste in the first place. Use less, keep things longer, reuse products or machinery, and reducing hazardous contents.
  • Reuse. Check, clean, repair or refurbish whole waste products or parts to reuse in your business or in another organisation.
  • Recycle. Goods and materials that are of no further use to you may have value for others.
  • Recovery. Energy generating or bio-fuel producing businesses may need the waste you create.
  • Dispose. Burying the waste in landfill sites or burning it without recovery energy is the last resort.

Waste transfer note

A Waste Transfer note is a record to acknowledge that you have transferred your waste to someone who's legally allowed to accept it. It contains a description of the waste, along with other information to show that you have disposed of your waste correctly.

As part of your Commercial Duty of Care, it is your responsibility to:

  • Check all details are accurate on the note before you sign the paperwork. This includes waste description, weight and name of business.
  • It must contain your Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code.
  • Keep a record of the copy for a minimum of 2 years.
  • Be prepared to produce your waste disposal records for inspection by any local authority or you could be fined a fixed penalty notice.


Prosecutions register

We keep a public register of prosecutions. This details prosecutions and formal cautions issued in the last three years. Where serious offences arise or there is a history of non-compliance, consideration will be given to pursuing formal cautions and prosecutions.

What business owners cannot do

As a business, you cannot do the following with your waste:

  • Take waste home and dispose of it with your normal domestic waste.
  • Take waste to the domestic/household waste facility (Local Tip) and dispose of it with your normal household waste.
  • Leave it outside your business to be collected along with domestic/ household bin collections.
  • Allow an unauthorised person to collect it and dispose of it without providing you with a waste transfer note.
  • Burn the waste.

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