Trade Waste And The Law

As a business you have a legal responsibility to ensure all your waste is stored, transported and disposed of correctly without harming the environment.  This is known as your duty of care in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Section 34).

Waste includes anything your business produces or acquires that is thrown away.  This can range from used tea bags and discarded paper to unwanted manufactured goods.  Most types of business waste, including waste for recycling, are classed as controlled waste.  It does not have to be classed as hazardous or toxic to be classed as controlled waste.

Your legal responsibility

Your duty of care starts from when waste is created up until its transfer to an authorised waste contractor.  Your waste must be:

  • Stored correctly, appropriately and securely from the weather, vandalism, theft and accidental damage
  • Transported correctly by a registered and authorised waste carrier
  • Documented correctly by completing a waste transfer note for all waste passed on to a waste contractor or waste management/disposal site.  You must keep a copy of these notes for at least 2 years for non-hazardous waste and 3 years for hazardous waste
  • Disposed of in the correct place or passed on to a registered and authorised waste contractor for disposal at a licensed facility

Your duty of care also includes:

  • Business waste accumulated while working at private households, including waste produced from delivering new items to private households
  • Contractors working on your business site - it is advisable to check who will be responsible for taking this waste away
  • Home-based businesses.  Any waste produced from business activities is classed as business waste.  You must keep it separate from your household waste and complete waste transfer notes when it is collected or disposed of

Electrical, electronic and hazardous waste

If you produce, handle, transport, recover or dispose of electrical or hazardous waste you must comply with the Hazardous Waste Regulations and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive).

Hazardous waste can include chemicals, paints, drugs, tyres, fridges and freezers. You can find some straightforward guidance on the gov.uk waste legislation page.