Business legal responsibilities

Your legal responsibilities as a business

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.

Download our Business Recycling Directory (May 2019 plus minor amendment November 2019 – do check accuracy)


All businesses, no matter what size, 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 within the law. ‘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 that are authorised to do so, or delivered to a site licensed to take it.
  • records are kept for at least two years of all waste that is transferred or received

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

Since October 2007 updated Landfill Regulations now mean 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, which may incur additional costs.

The true cost of waste is up to 4.5% of turnover. Avoiding expensive landfill costs by recycling more could save you money.

  • Reduces greenhouse gases, such as methane, which is produced when biodegradable material is landfilled
  • Saves raw materials and energy. Recycling just one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 15 watt low energy efficient bulb (equivalent to a 100 watt normal bulb) for 24 hours
  • Saves raw materials, meaning less virgin resources are used, preserving the environment for future generations

Tips to reduce waste include:

  • Set your printers to automatically print on both sides, reducing paper waste
  • 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.

Strong boxes and packaging material may be of use to people moving house, or someone who does a lot of online selling – why not offer them on an waste exchange website. Furniture and electrical items may be suitable for reuse – why not 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.

There are a number of scrapstores in Somerset, some of which offer free collections of clean, safe, waste materials from businesses that would be suitable for art and craft project. this includes things like paper, card, textiles, foil, leather, wool, foam, plastics – contact them to see if you are producing anything they can make use of.

Where to go for more advice about business waste and recycling.

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

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.

NISP (National Industrial Symbiosis Programme) is an organisation that facilitates resource exchange across the UK.

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.