What is Duty of Care?

Two people in hi-vis jackets emptying a wheelie bin into the back of a waste collection truck

If you produce, transfer, or dispose of waste, you’re responsible for ensuring that its stored and treated safely. This is all part of your ‘Duty of Care’. But what exactly does this mean and how can you ensure you’re complying?

What is Duty of Care?

Duty of care legislation ensures that all waste that is being disposed of is done so in a way that protects human health and the environment. This Code of Practice is issued under section 34(7) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This law applies to anyone dealing with waste to keep it safe, make sure it’s dealt with responsibly and only given to businesses authorised to take it. If you fail to comply with this, it’s a criminal offence. There are no upper limits on the court’s power to fine so you could be facing hefty fines.

Who does Duty of Care apply to?

Duty of Care legislation applies to anyone that is involved with the waste. If you produce, carry, keep, dispose of, or treat waste, the Code of Practice applies to you. This includes waste producers as well as waste carriers, dealers, and brokers. However, there are some types of waste that are exempt from this. For example, radioactive waste and waste containing animal by-products, such as sewage or sludge.

How can you make sure you’re complying with Duty of Care legislation?

The way you can prove you’re complying with Duty of Care legislation is through Waste Transfer Notes. These are legal documents required for each loaf of non-hazardous waste you move off your premises. They act like an invoice, showing the waste stream and how it has been removed. They will also include the location of the waste and its relevant EWC code. In order to comply, these Waste Transfer Notes must be kept for at least two years. You must also be able to produce them on demand if your environmental regulator or local council demands, or you could face fines.

If you’re producing and removing hazardous waste, you’ll need a Hazardous Waste Consignment Note. These go into more detail about the waste to ensure safety as it contains hazardous properties. Consignment Notes need to be kept for at least three years to show compliance.

Duty of Care documents stacked up with glasses in the background.
A man in hi-vis pressing a button on the back of a waste collection truck

What happens if you don’t comply with Duty of Care legislation?

The Environment Agency and Waste Collection Authorities often conduct random checks to ensure businesses are complying with Duty of Care legislation. If there is any suspicion that any waste has not been transferred to an authorised waste carrier, or there has been illegal treatment storage of disposal of waste, they will likely seek access to the records. Authorities have the power to seize vehicles if they’re used for unlawful waste disposal as well as issuing fixed penalty notices to anyone involved if the waste has been found to be fly tipped.

Who provides a Duty of Care Waste Transfer Note?

Your licensed waste carrier should always provide you the customer with a Duty of Care Waste Transfer Note. We provide our customers with this document annually. This relates to all their waste transfers between the required dates of the year that are scheduled services. It must be signed and kept for three years from the start date. Waste Transfer Notes also must be renewed whenever the description of the waste changes.

How can you check if your waste carrier is licenced to provide this document?

Once companies are registered with the Environmental Agency, businesses will receive a Certificate of Registration under the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011. Most companies will have their licence available to view on their website. Ours is available to view here.

I don’t have regular collections, only ad-hoc jobs; do I still need a Waste Transfer Note?

A duty of care-controlled waste transfer note is also required for each ad-hoc job, completed by your supplier, that is not on your regular schedule. This must state their waste carriers licence number and the waste transfer station where they have disposed of the waste.

Contact us

For help creating a fully compliant and sustainable waste management plan for your business, contact our team of waste experts today.

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