Business legal responsibilities

It is the responsibility of businesses to ensure that the waste they produce is correctly disposed of. The business should make sure, using the Environment Agency website, that any contractor used is correctly licensed to handle that waste.

Your duty of care

All businesses producing any waste should have a trade waste agreement with a registered waste carrier or take their refuse to a site licensed to accept trade waste. They have a duty to ensure that any waste produced is handled safely and legally. ‘Duty of Care’ applies to anyone who produces, imports, transports, stores, treats or disposes of waste from business or industry.

Businesses must ensure that:

  • All waste is stored and disposed of responsibly
  • Waste is only handled or dealt with by people or businesses authorised to do so, or delivered to a site licensed to take it
  • Records are kept for at least two years of all waste transferred or received

For more information on Duty of Care and your responsibilities see the Right Waste, Right Place website.

Waste pre-treatment

Since October 2007, Landfill Regulations set down that no commercial waste can be disposed of at landfill unless it can be demonstrated to have undergone a treatment process. The simplest way to provide this treatment is to separate waste for reuse or recycling. This can be done at source by the business, or by your waste collection service provider.

Reduce and reuse “waste”

Tips to reduce waste include:

  • Set your printers to automatically print on both sides, and reuse scrap paper for notepads
  • Use re-usable mugs rather than plastic or paper cups
  • Refill printer cartridges
  • Sign up to the mailing preference service to reduce unwanted mail
  • Reuse boxes, envelopes and packaging material

Once you have reduced your waste as much as possible, think about who may be able to reuse it. Boxes and packing material may be of use to people moving house, or someone who sells online – offer them on a waste exchange website. Furniture and electrical items may be suitable for reuse – offer them to a local charity shop or furniture reuse group. There are also organisations in Somerset that refurbish computer equipment for charities and people on low incomes. Scrap stores may offer free collections of clean, safe, waste materials suitable for art and craft projects, including paper, card, textiles, foil, leather, wool, foam, plastics – contact them to see if you are producing anything they can make use of.

WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) has a wealth of waste and recycling information.

The Environment Agency is the regulatory body ensuring the protection of the environment. They have information on legislation and which companies have the relevant waste licences.  GOV.UK provides practical advice for businesses on a wide range of topics, including waste management and recycling.

Right Waste, right Place gives advice about Duty of Care legislation.

Recycle More is a one-stop recycling information centre where you can find information on recycling in the workplace. The site also provides information about where to find dedicated drop off sites for business waste electrical and electronic equipment.

SW MAS (South West Manufacturing Advisory Service) offer free, independent support to manufacturers advising on a wide range of cost saving methods from eco-design to production process mapping.