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If you operate a business, you are responsible, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and other related legislation, to safely contain and legally dispose of all waste produced from your business. This is known as your commercial waste duty of care.
Commercial waste includes all waste created from a commercial premises.
The law applies to all businesses, including anyone working from home such as child minding, nurseries and offices. It is an offence to dispose of commercial waste in domestic bins, at a household waste recycling centre or in any other way not in accordance with the Waste Duty of Care Code of Practice.
As part of the Duty of Care, you can either dispose of your commercial waste yourself or arrange for someone to do this for you. Whichever option you choose you will need to prove you have disposed of your commercial waste legally.
Commercial waste includes any and all waste produced by businesses, regardless of whether it is a home office or a commercial site, including:
You must be able to provide documents called ‘Duty of care waste transfer notes’ or receipts showing:
This is waste that’s considered to be damaging to humans or the environment. Some examples of hazardous waste include:
There are additional requirements for this type of waste, so think about if it applies to your business. Examples include: disposing of chemicals or oil from a car wash business; chemicals used in treatments from a beauty or hairdressing business. You can find more information about hazardous waste on Gov.uk.
All waste has to be described and classified first. It’s at this stage that you can find out if it’s deemed to be hazardous or not from the code that’s assigned to it. Codes with an asterisk (*) indicate hazardous waste, although other conditions may apply. Read the Gov.uk guide on classifying different types of waste for more specific information.
You can arrange for someone else to dispose of your commercial waste but you should:
You will be committing offences and can be prosecuted if you give your waste to anyone not licensed to carry and dispose of controlled waste.
If you don't legally dispose of your commercial waste, a fixed penalty notice will be issued or the matter could be taken to court.
If you're found to be illegally disposing of your waste you will be prosecuted. The maximum penalty is a fine of up to £50,000 and up to 12 months imprisonment in the magistrates' court, or five years imprisonment and an unlimited fine at the crown court.
If someone finds your waste fly tipped and you can't prove that you haven't dumped it and that you have complied with all the necessary requirements, you could be fined up to £50,000 and face up to five years in prison. Failure to produce waste transfer notes can result in a fixed penalty notice of £300.
A lot people think that, once the commercial waste has been put out by a business in either bins or bags, the waste is no longer their responsibility. This is wrong.
Anyone who produces waste has a legal responsibility and duty of care for their waste until it's collected by a legal waste carrier.
Our waste, our resources
Viable Waste Solutions is working to support the UK Government in their ambitious waste management policy, ensuring we only use sustainable, environmentally friendly products and services to ensure our carbon footprint is as low as possible, and our environment is preserved and protected at all times.
"The air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we live on, and the stock of natural resources we use in our daily lives are at the heart of our economy, our society and our way of life. We must not take these for granted. The government strategy sets out how we will preserve our stock of material resources by minimising waste, promoting resource efficiency and moving towards a circular economy. At the same time we will minimise the damage caused to our natural environment by reducing and managing waste safely and carefully."