Legislation – Duty of Care
Your 'Duty of Care' – Your responsibilities as a business
What you must do to comply with your Duty of Care:
- You should store and transport your waste safely and securely so it does not cause pollution or cause harm to anyone or the environment
- Waste must be contained in a suitable container, i.e. waste cannot fall out, blow away or escape from the receptacle provided
- You must check that your waste is being transported and handled by people or businesses that are authorised to do so either a local authority or a registered waste carrier
- Waste Transfer Notes have to be completed, to document the transportation of all of your waste and these documents should be kept on file for two years. The NetRegs website provides further information on the types of waste transfer note and completing Waste Transfer Notes
- When a registered waste carrier takes your waste away you should also check to make sure they are taking the waste to a facility permitted by the Environment Agency to accept it
You have a responsibility to:
- Stop anyone storing, disposing of or recovering your waste unless they have an environmental permit (England and Wales), or an exemption. Use the Environment Agency registers to check their permit or exemption to make sure that they are within its conditions
- Package all waste materials appropriately and robustly to stop them escaping from your, or anyone else's, control
- Ensure that your waste is only transferred to a person or business authorised to deal with your particular type of waste
- Ensure that the waste being transferred is accompanied by a waste transfer note including reference to the appropriate six digit code(s) in the European Waste Catalogue (EWC) that will enable anyone receiving it to dispose of it or handle it safely and appropriately
This is only an introduction to the Duty of Care. Further information is available through:
The Duty of Care summary leaflet which provides a summary of the steps you should take, guidance on who is authorised to accept your waste and advice on completing waste transfer notes.
The Duty of Care code of practice which recommends a series of steps which should normally be enough to meet the duty. The code cannot cover every contingency. The legal obligation is to comply with the duty of care itself rather than with the code.
It is illegal and a breach of the 'Duty of Care' to:
- Take business waste to a recycling centre
- Present business waste for collection by a domestic collection service
- Fly tip waste
- Burn waste
European Waste Catalogue (EWC)
The European Waste Catalogue provides a list of codes used to classify wastes. The EWC provides a more precise method of identifying the type of waste by listing waste types according to the process or industries from which they arise. The requirement to refer to the code is contained in the Landfill Regulations 2002. For further guidance about the use of EWC codes, please contact your local Environment Agency office.
Treatment before landfill
Since 30th October 2007 landfills can no longer accept untreated waste. This legislation is intended to encourage more recycling and reduce the impact of the waste that continues to be landfilled. The Your Waste Your Responsibility guidance outlines your responsibilities as a business.
The legal definition of treatment requires three things (the 'three-point test'):
- It must be a physical, thermal, chemical or biological process including sorting
- It must change the characteristics of the waste
- It must do so in order to:
- Reduce its volume, or
- Reduce its hazardous nature, or
- Facilitate its handling, or
- Enhance its recovery
More advice on treatment can be found in the Environment Agency document Treatment of non hazardous waste for landfill.