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Legal responsibilities

Information on your legal responsibilities if you have commercial waste.

What is Duty of Care?

Duty of care applies to anyone who runs a business and produces, stores, transports, recycles or disposes of waste. The type of waste does not matter. Whether it is cardboard boxes, plastic packaging or simply lunchtime leftovers you are responsible for it.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Section 34) introduced the concept of Duty of Care. Under the law on Duty of Care you must take all reasonable steps to keep waste safe. You must package waste in suitable containers so that it cannot fall out, blow away, or escape. Containers should be sufficiently secure so that they cannot be broken open and waste removed by animals, accident or weather.

How does it affect me as a Trader?

You must ensure that the person collecting or receiving your waste is authorised to do so, e.g. the council or a registered waste carrier. You are responsible for ensuring that your waste is disposed of properly and must ask for proof from your waste contractor that they are registered.

When you agree to have your waste picked up by a licensed contractor you will be issued with a Waste Transfer Note to complete. A Waste Transfer Note contains information about the type and amount of waste that your business produces. It also states the name and address of the company that collects your waste. You are required by law to have this documentation readily available.

Breach of Duty of Care is a criminal offence and may result in an unlimited fine.