Trade Waste Disposal Regulations
All businesses in the UK have a Duty of Care to safely sort, store, transport and dispose of their waste.
Businesses that produce special types of waste, such as animal by-products and hazardous waste, will be subject to more stringent waste legislation.
Failure to comply with the waste regulations set out by the UK Government can result in a heavy fine or even imprisonment.
Your business has a legal responsibility to safely sort, store, transport and dispose of any waste it produces, from leftover food and floor sweepings to rubble and paper shreddings. This means that you must take steps to ensure that your business’ waste is handled properly, whether by yourself or by a waste management company. Failure to comply with the legislation set out by the UK Government means you could face tough penalties, as well as put your company’s reputation on the line.
What's in This Guide to Trade Waste Disposal Regulations?
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What Is the Duty of Care?
Waste from business activity has the potential to harm the environment and people’s health if not managed properly. Because of this, your company has a legal obligation to make sure that its waste is handled correctly. Known as your Duty of Care, you must:
• Sort and store waste safely
• Use licensed waste carriers
• Correctly complete waste transfer notes
• Dispose of waste at licensed waste disposal premises
Read on to find out more about your business’ Duty of Care when it comes to waste.
How to Sort and Store Your Business Waste
No matter what type of waste your business produces, it must be sorted and stored safely and securely.
• Separate waste into clearly labelled containers
• Don’t contaminate one type of waste with another
• Store waste in a secure location on your business premises
• Use appropriately sized containers with a cover to stop waste escaping or blowing away
• Use waterproof covers if rain could cause contaminated run-off from waste
• Only put waste containers out for collection on the correct days
How to Dispose of Your Business Waste
You can dispose of your business’ waste in 2 ways: do it yourself or hire a waste management company to do it for you. Whatever method you choose, there are certain legal requirements that you must adhere to when getting rid of any type of commercial waste.
Waste Transfer Licence
Waste can only be removed from your business premises by a licensed waste carrier. To be a licensed waste carrier, you must obtain a waste transfer license from the gov.uk website at a small fee of £154. This allows you to legally transfer waste from one premises to another (e.g. your coffee shop to a recycling plant).
Waste Transfer Note
A waste transfer note is a legal document that must be filled in every time waste is taken from your business premises by a licensed waste carrier. A waste transfer note details exactly what your waste is so that it can be handled and disposed of correctly. Information needed includes:
• What the waste is and how much it weighs
• How the waste is contained
• The place and date of transfer
You must keep a copy of every waste transfer note for at least 2 years and be able to present them on demand to an enforcement officer from your local council or Environment Agency.
Make sure that any waste you transfer to a licensed waste carrier is disposed of at a licensed waste disposal facility such as a landfill site or recycling plant. Waste that is dumped on land that doesn’t have a license to accept it - known as fly-tipping - is an legal offence. In the year 2016-2017, 1,602 individuals in England were prosecuted for fly-tipping, with 98% of prosecutions resulting in a conviction.
Remember: if your business uses a waste management company to collect and dispose of its waste, it’s your responsibility to ensure that they have a valid waste transfer license, correctly fill in a waste transfer note for every collection, and dispose of your waste at a legal premises.
What If Your Business Produces Unusual Waste?
Your business may be required to comply with more stringent legislation if it produces certain kinds of unusual waste, such as asbestos or electrical items. Here are some examples of waste that face tougher regulation in terms of how it’s sorted, stored, transported and disposed of:
Animal by-products refers to entire bodies or parts of animals, or any material produced by animals (e.g. manure) that is not intended for human consumption. If your business produces this type of waste it must be registered with the Animal and Plant Health Agency.
Different types of animal by-products should be kept separate to avoid contamination, and placed in airtight containers with the correct label. Animal waste should only be collected by a licensed waste carrier and without undue delay to prevent any risk to human or animal health.
What Is a Commercial Document?
All movements of animal by-products (except manure) must be accompanied by a commercial note. A bit like a waste transfer note, a commercial note details what the animal waste is, including a record of the origin and quantity of the material, and where and when it was collected. You must keep a copy of every commercial note for at least 2 years.
Hazardous waste refers to any material that is potentially dangerous or harmful to human health or the environment, such as paint, asbestos or pharmaceutical medicines. If your business produces hazardous waste, it must be registered as a ‘Hazardous Waste Producer’.
Hazardous waste must be stored in clearly labelled and sealed containers made of a material that is chemically compatible with the waste it holds. These containers must then be placed in a secondary container in case of spills or leaks. Hazardous waste should never be mixed with non-hazardous waste. It should be collected and disposed of by an authorised business within 90 days from when it was first placed in containers.
What Is a Consignment Note?
Whenever hazardous waste is removed from your business premises, it must be accompanied by a consignment note until it reaches its final destination. Like a waste transfer note, a consignment note details exactly what the hazardous waste is. It must be correctly completed by you and the licensed waste carrier who collects your hazardous waste, and you must keep a record of it for at least 2 years.
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
WEEE refers to any electrical item that can be plugged in or requires a battery, such as fridges, drills and smoke detectors. Most electrical items contain a wide variety of materials - including some hazardous - that must be stored and disposed of correctly.
The maximum quantity of WEEE that can be stored in your business premises is 80 cubic metres; for fluorescent tubes or WEEE containing mercury, the maximum amount that can be stored is 50 cubic metres.
WEEE can be stored for 3 months before it needs collecting and disposing of by a registered waste carrier. Electrical waste must be kept in weatherproof containers marked with the crossed-out wheelie bin symbol.
Penalty Charges for Failure to Comply With Regulations
You could face severe penalties if your business does not comply with trade waste disposal regulations. After all, do you really want to risk being hit with a £50,000 fine or facing a 5-year jail sentence? It’s essential that you take your Duty of Care seriously when sorting, storing, transporting and disposing of any waste that your business produces.
The table below shows you some of the penalty charges that apply if you don’t follow the waste regulations set out by the Government:
Duty of Care offence
£300 fixed penalty notice or prosecution with a maximum £5,000 fine
Waste receptacle offence (e.g. leaving waste bins outside of collection times)
£110 fixed penalty notice or prosecution with a maximum £1,000 fine
Failure to produce a waste transfer note
£300 fixed penalty notice or prosecution with a maximum £5,000 fine
£400 fixed penalty notice or prosecution with an unlimited fine and up to 5 years' imprisonment
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