Business waste legal duty of care

Your legal duty to take care of trade waste

What this means and how it affects your business

Under Environmental Protection Act 1990 anyone who produces, imports, keeps, stores, transports, treats or disposes of waste has a duty to take all reasonable steps to keep it safe.

The duty of care applies to all businesses and if the duty of care is broken you may be prosecuted and fined an unlimited amount. We want to make sure this does not happen to your business.

The law says you must 'take all reasonable steps' to fulfil the duty and complete an annual waste transfer note. What is 'reasonable' depends on what you do with your waste. For example, you must stop waste escaping from your control by storing it safely and securely and you must also prevent it from causing pollution or harming anyone.

Follow these steps to meet the duty of care

  1. Keep all waste in a suitable container. Avoid any leakage of fluid and grease by first wrapping food and vegetable matter in paper. If you put loose waste in a skip or on a lorry, cover it and ensure it is well lit at night
  2. As our commercial waste collection is not included in your business rates, you must pay for an authorised waste collector to remove your waste from your premises. The waste generated by your business will not be collected with household waste - you will breach the duty of care if you allow this to happen
  3. If you give waste to someone else, which may include a contract cleansing company, check that they are an authorised waste carrier
  4. Each year you must describe the waste in writing by completing a form called a waste transfer note. Your authorised waste collector will provide you with one of these which will cover all your waste transfers for one year only. By law you must keep a copy of your waste transfer note for up to two years.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, every business has a legal duty of care to ensure that the waste produced, however small or large the amount, is disposed of properly by a licensed waste carrier.

As a business you are also legally required to keep copies of your trade waste contract for the previous two years. The enforcement team can request documents for up to the past two years. Failure to show these may result in a fixed penalty notice of up to £300 or the matter being referred to court, where if found guilty a fine of up to £5000 may be given.