Waste and Recycling
Legal Disposal of Commercial Waste
Are you disposing of your commercial waste legally?
If you operate any kind of business you have a legal responsibility under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and other related legislation, to safely contain and legally dispose of any waste produced from your business.
If you don't, you can be taken to Court as you are committing an offence. Please note that your business rates do not include the cost of your business waste disposal.
The law also applies to anyone working from home or operating small businesses such as garden clearances, child minding, hairdressers, sun bed shop, beauty salons and second hand shops to name a few. In fact, the duty of care applies to all rubbish generated by anyone although there are a few exceptions for householders disposing of their own waste (not anyone else's).
What is waste?
Waste is anything whatsoever that is no longer required. This includes, but is not limited to old mail, cleaning products, food wrappers, cardboard, plastic, sweepings, etc. Recyclable items are also included.
This waste is commonly known as commercial waste. The legal term is "Controlled Waste".
How can I legally dispose of my waste?
You can dispose of your own waste. However, you must be able to provide documents called "Waste Transfer Notes" or provide some form of receipt showing:
- Where you disposed of the waste (Tip location)
- How much of it there was (weight)
- When it was tipped (date)
- A description of what waste was tipped
You can also have someone else collect and dispose of the waste for you. This person must be a licensed waste carrier and you must complete a form known as a "Duty of Care" with your chosen contractor.
You can check with the Environment Agency that your chosen contractor is licensed.
You are committing offences and can be prosecuted if you give your waste to anyone who is not licensed to carry and dispose of controlled waste.
Does the Duty of Care apply to me?
It applies to anyone who produces, stores, transports, treats or disposes of waste.
"My business doesn't produce any waste!
It is highly unlikely that a business will not produce any waste. Even sandwiches consumed on the premises have wrappers. Drinks containers and junk mail also constitute waste. This is also classed as commercial waste. It is an offence to take it home and place it in your domestic bin, or take it to a household waste recycling centre or to dispose of it in any other way except in accordance with the Duty of Care.
You will have to prove to the Courts that you do not produce any waste whatsoever. You can recycle a lot of commercial waste but it still needs to be legally documented with your chosen contractor.
What do I need to do?
Make sure that any waste produced by your business is safely stored in a suitable container. If waste is placed in a bin or a skip it needs to be closed and covered to prevent the escape of waste. If it is put in your chosen commercial waste provider's commercial waste bags you must keep them contained and put out for collection on your designated collection day.
You must ensure that whoever collects your waste has the authority to do so. They must be registered with the Environment Agency.
If you receive a one off or non-regular collection, a waste transfer note must be completed. If you have a regular waste collection as part of a contract you will receive what is known as a Duty of Care Note.
If you dispose of your own waste you must pay for the disposal and keep all your receipts and tipping notes for a minimum of two years.
What are the penalties?
If you are 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 5 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine at the Crown Court.
If someone finds YOUR waste fly tipped, can you prove that you haven't dumped it and that you have complied with all the requirements above? If you can't, YOU may be liable to a fine of up to £50,000 and up to 5 years imprisonment. Failure to produce authority (waste transfer notes) can result in a Fixed Penalty Notice of £300.
We are here to help
The main misconception is that once the commercial waste has been put out by a business in either bins or bags, as far as some are concerned, the waste is no longer their responsibility.
This is completely incorrect. All producers of waste have a legal responsibility and duty of care for their waste until it is collected by a legal waste carrier. Often bin lids are left wide open and bins and bags are put out damaged. This results in the escape of waste which creates an environmental issue and may also result in the contractor failing to collect it. You must ensure that your waste is secure at all times.
This is still your waste and you are still liable for it.
You must also ensure that you have the sufficient number of collections by your contractor to remove all of your waste and prevent it from spilling out.
What if my contractor doesn't empty my bin as scheduled?
If your contractor doesn't collect your bins within a reasonable period of time you must take the waste back inside your premises. Contact your contractor immediately and ask them to attend as a matter of urgency. DO NOT continue to over fill the bin or place waste at the side of the bin or in another property's bin.
A new member of staff or a cleaner didn't know what to do
This is an excuse often used but in reality it is the owners, occupiers and managers who have a legal duty for anyone they employ to ensure they know what to do with the waste. In the event of waste escaping or being put out for collection it would be the owner that would face legal action. Make sure all of your staff know what to do with the waste, if they deal with it they should know where it goes and when.
It is a shared bin area and our rubbish was fine when we put it out
You are responsible for your own waste at all times and must keep your bin area tidy and secure. You should also be aware of people that go through your waste to take confidential waste or anything that can be sold on for profit.
My bin is broken
Don't ignore that damaged bin. Get your contractor to change the bin now before it is too late.