If it’s your waste, it’s your responsibility: Duty of Care

Does anybody know of a business in the current economic climate which is not conscious of cost.  Many businesses are unaware of how significantly waste can impact on their bottom line.

  • Whereas, all businesses should always strive to get the best possible contract from their suppliers, they should also be aware of legal liabilities which may arise if their handling ordisposal of waste does not comply with all relevant legislation.
  • Many businesses rely entirely on their waste contractors to address all their legal obligations and indeed reputable contractors can meet the needs of most businesses.
  • Unfortunately, many businesses have incurred significant cost and damage to their reputation where their waste management practices have not complied with legal requirements.

If you produce, carry, import, keep, treat or dispose of waste you have a legal ‘duty of care’ to make sure your waste is handled safely and only passed to people authorised to receive it.  The following guidelines can help you address your waste management requirements correctly.

You should consider:

  • What type of waste you are producing – are there specific handling disposal issue to be addressed
  • How you are storing the waste – make sure the waste is safely contained or can it leak or blow away
  • Minimise environmental impacts through waste prevention, re-use, recycling and recovery – this can also help save money on disposal costs.
  • Adopt the waste hierarchy – it can have a significant positive impact on th ebottom line for your business.  Prevention is at the top of the priority order, followed by preparing for re-use, recycling, other recovery and disposal, in descending order of  preference.

It is your responsibility to make sure the person who collects your waste is a registered waste carrier and is taking the waste to a legitimate site.

You must:

  • Insist on seeing their certification and documentation and ensure that they are licenced to transport the waste generated on your site and that the receiving site is licenced to accept it (check the EWC codes).
  • Check if they have a valid registration on the public register.
  • Do not use a contractor if you’re not sure they are registered to carry waste.
  • Keep a record of your waste carriers’ details in case they dispose of your waste illegally and it is traced back to you.
  • Get a copy of the waste transfer documentation for both non-hazardous and hazardous waste from the contractor who takes your waste away.  This describes the waste you passed on, where you passed it and to whom you passed it on to .
  • Retain this information for two years to protect yourself from any comeback.  Some environmental licences may require you to retain this information for five years.