Legislation and Trade Waste
All businesses in the UK have a responsibility to make sure their waste is dealt with properly and safely. That includes having a clear waste management strategy in place and making sure that they use only specially licenced trade waste disposal services. The onus is on all businesses, whether they operate from an office or work from home, to make sure that waste handling is given the due diligence it deserves.
Responsibility of Businesses for Trade Waste
The first responsibility of businesses is not to create so much waste in the first place. We are long past the days when items could be thrown out without a thought and taken to the dump. The emphasis nowadays is on preventing waste from being created, then reusing what can be repurposed, then recycling and then recovering, in that order. For example, generating heat or energy from incineration is one way that we are now beginning to recover something from waste that would normally have gone straight to the dump.
If these guidelines are followed and the right processes put in place, then businesses should be able to cut down on waste that is sent to landfill significantly. It’s something that has reduced the level of waste we have all produced over the last few years.
Use this simple tool to generate your own guide for implementing the waste hierarchy.
Businesses also have a responsibility for storing waste safely and in an appropriate place. Most businesses have a dedicated area for this and use the right waste disposal equipment such as paper and plastic bins that make collection easy. These containers should be clearly labelled and have covers on them that stop waste from blowing away or cross contaminating.
There is, of course, extra legislation relating to hazardous waste. It’s an area where many trades have had to change their operating procedures in recent times.
Business must use a licenced waste carrier to handle all waste transport and failure to do so can lead to fines and criminal prosecutions. For each load of waste that leaves a particular business premises, a waste transfer note needs to be completed and this ‘invoice’ has to be retained for at least two years. This may have to be produced if your local council or environment agency official asks to see it.
The handling of waste varies slightly across different countries who each have their own but similar legislation in place. For more information, check out the link for your country:
- Waste management in England.
- Waste management in Scotland.
- Waste management in Wales.
- Waste management in Northern Ireland.
Registration for Waste Carriers
Any business that is involved in the management of waste is required to register as either a waste carrier, broker or dealer. If you fail to register and still carry out waste management or collection, then you could be liable to a fine of up to £5,000. If you transport waste for yourself then registration is free, for all others it costs £154 for the license.
This waste disposal registration splits into two types: Upper Tier and Lower Tier. You will find out which category your business fits into when you register.
- Upper Tier: for those who carry waste on a professional basis, in other words your business is waste. It also includes construction waste from either building or demolition. This tier applies to waste management companies as well as businesses such as plumbers and builders.
- Lower Tier: This tier covers everything else and includes those businesses that carry their own waste on a regular basis (for example, charities that recycle print cartridges or businesses that do paper pickups for different offices to store in one place).
It does not matter what kind of business you have, if you are involved in the transport of waste on a regular basis you need to be registered. The upper and lower tiers apply to England and Wales. There is no differentiation in Scotland or Northern Ireland though the rest of the trade waste management rules are roughly the same.
You can check whether the waste management company you are using is registered by visiting the Government’s online register for England and Wales or SEPA for Scotland.
Moving Waste Between Counties
You cannot nowadays move waste between counties if it is going to landfill. You can only move it if the waste is going to be reused or recycled in some way.