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Disposing of Business waste – what are the rules?

Every business will produce trade waste of some kind, and it’s essential to understand the rules and responsibilities around safe disposal.

Below, we summarise what you need to do and how to ensure your company is fully compliant with the UK business waste regulations.

If in any doubt as to your obligations or whether you need specialist services to manage your business waste safely, please contact the Clearway team for professional guidance.

Understanding Commercial Waste Duties of Care

The legislation around trade waste is set out by the Environmental Protection Act 1990. All businesses of any kind must contain any waste products safely and dispose of them properly.

That requirement is called your Duty of Care. Types of waste covered include anything produced as rubbish or waste material from a commercial business, including by-products.

Examples incorporate:

  • Scrap computers, electrical equipment and furniture.
  • Used oils of any kind, including for cooking or manufacturing.
  • Packaging, post and general waste.
  • The rubbish produced from food and drinks packaging.
  • Cigarette butts and smoking waste, flammable waste.
  • Recyclable materials, such as paper, plastic and cardboard.
  • Anything else your enterprise produces as waste material.
  • Every UK business is expected to comply with these rules. That includes offices, production companies, and stay at home businesses, including those working from home or offering home-based services such as childcare.

Breaching Business Waste Disposal Legislation

Failing to take responsibility for the safe disposal of business waste can have serious consequences.

It can sometimes be challenging to differentiate between residential and commercial rubbish if you work from home, but should you be found to breach the Code of Practice, it may lead to prosecution.

Offences can be:

  • Disposing of business waste in domestic bins.
  • Throwing away trade waste at a household recycling centre.
  • Any other disposal method not following best practice.

Penalties can range from a fixed notice fine to potential imprisonment for the most severe offences, so it is vital to get this right. Current penalty charges are:

Fines of £300 or up to £5,000 prosecution penalties for breaching your business Duty of Care.
Penalties of £400 on a fixed fine basis, or prosecution with unlimited penalties and up to five years in prison for illegally depositing business waste.
£110 fixed penalty notice or prosecution with fines up to £1,000 for failing to comply with a notice (e.g. having an appropriate waste disposal facility or collection bins on-site).

There are two main ways to manage your business waste responsibilities. You can either appoint a contractor to handle this on your behalf or put systems in place to control your business waste disposal yourself.

The challenge is that you must prove that you have disposed of business waste legally, so keeping records and documentation is crucial if you opt to deal with your trade rubbish disposal.

The Essential Trade Waste Disposal Paperwork

To evidence that you have removed business waste appropriately, you will need a Duty of Care Waste Transfer Note document. This document is required every time you make a disposal.

The paperwork shows:

  • What sort of waste you disposed of.
  • Where it was tipped, and on what date.
  • The weight of the waste materials.

Businesses must keep these notes, which provide coverage for both the company and its owners under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

There are template copies of Waste Transfer Notes available online, which demonstrate the level of detail required. For example, you will need to record:

  • Details of the names and addresses of the person transferring the waste and the transferee.
  • Environmental permit numbers for the registered waste disposal site – usually a landfill operator or recycling plant.
  • Your Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code ensuring the waste disposal can be traced to the relevant sector or business type.
  • Information about the nature of the waste, how you contained it, the volume of rubbish, and any Waste Regulations codes that apply.

For many businesses, appointing a contractor to manage the safe removal, transport and disposal of waste is far more cost-effective than paying separate disposal fees for each load of rubbish.

It is also more convenient, ensuring that a licensed waste carrier such as the Clearway team provides all the paperwork and documentation you need to prove that your legal responsibilities have been met.

Choosing a Waste Disposal Contractor

There are a few crucial elements to check for whenever selecting a contractor to manage your business waste disposal. They must adhere to licensing standards and have the requisite systems in place to produce the mandatory paperwork:

Commercial waste removal providers must be licensed by the Environment Agency and be authorised to carry and dispose of business waste.
They must produce Duty of Care Waste Transfer Notes for each disposal to act like your paper trail.

Using an unlicensed carrier can lead to penalties and prosecution, as it is the business that carries the Duty of Care to ensure their business waste is dealt with properly.

Therefore, it is highly advisable to seek guidance from an experienced commercial waste removal team such as Clearway to ensure you have complete confidence in your business waste contractor.

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