Who is responsible for disposing of commercial waste?
You are legally responsible for safely containing and disposing of any waste produced from your business.
If you don't, you can be taken to court.
The law also applies to anyone working from home or operating small businesses.
The waste is commonly known as commercial waste. The legal term is "controlled waste."
Legally disposing of your waste
You can dispose of your own waste but you must be able to provide documents called "waste transfer notes," or provide some form of receipt showing:
- Where you disposed of the waste
- How much of it there was
- When it was tipped
- A description of what waste was tipped
You can also have someone 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're committing offences and can be prosecuted if you give your waste to anyone who is not licensed to carry and dispose of controlled waste.
What you 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. If it is put in your commercial waste provider's commercial waste bags, you must keep them contained and put out for collection on collection day.
If you dispose of your own waste you must pay for the disposal and keep all receipts and tipping notes for at least two years.
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.