Duty of care for waste
Anybody who produces waste must by law take responsibility for ensuring it is managed and disposed of correctly. Duty-of-care requirements for households and businesses are laid out in the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
The regulations state that you must ensure that your waste is managed in a manner that does not cause harm to human health or pollution of the environment. They apply to any person who produces, imports, carries, keeps, treats or disposes of controlled waste, or as a broker has control of such waste.
Residents are required to ensure that:
- all waste is placed into the receptacles to facilitate collection
- waste is contained within the correct receptacles (waste will not be collected unless it's contained within the correct receptacle - read what to put in each bin for more information)
- waste receptacles should not be stored on the public highway (pavement, road or alleyway)
- waste receptacles should be put out no earlier than 6pm the day before collection and by 7am on collection day; they should then be removed from the pavement by midnight on the day of collection
- any waste that does not fit into the receptacles must either be taken to a local recycling centre or transferred to a licensed waste carrier at the householder's expense
Until June 2015, a person who failed without reasonable excuse to comply with a notice served by the council in regards to household waste bins, committed a criminal offence for which the council could issue a fixed penalty or prosecute. Examples of circumstances included bins left out after collection days, bins not put out, fly tipping next to bins, and overfull bins.
From June 2015, the Deregulation Act 2015 replaced the criminal offence with a civil penalty. This new legal provision removes enforcement on the basis of the nature of the waste presented, and some of the lower level offences - such as failing to put out waste in a certain way for collection, or leaving bins out after collection day - have been completely removed from the enforcement powers.
All businesses produce waste and each one has a legal responsibility to ensure that any waste produced, stored, transported or disposed of is done so without harming the environment. Businesses are responsible for the waste from when it is produced until it has been transferred to an authorised waste carrier.
Businesses must ensure that:
- waste is stored securely so it does not escape (either by falling out or blowing away), or is not removed from the waste receptacle without authorisation
- waste is transported by the council or an authorised private contractor - read more about trade waste
- a waste transfer note (a written description of the waste) is completed for every transfer of waste or for a specified period and kept on record for at least two years
- a waste transfer note or waste information e.g. invoice or contract, has to be produced upon request, either by a local authority or the Environment Agency
Transferring waste to an unregistered company or person, or failing to provide a waste transfer note is an offence. Being unable to provide a waste transfer notice or waste information is an offence and could lead to a fixed penalty notice.Those found guilty on conviction are also subject to a fine up to £5,000.
Waste carriers must be registered with the Environment Agency. Carrying waste without authorisation is an offence: the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 empowers authorities to issue fixed penalty notices for failure to produce carriers registration documentation. Those found guilty on conviction are subject to a fine of up to £5,000.
- Register or renew as a waste carrier on the Environment Agency webpage