Business Waste Laws: A Quick Guide to Compliance

by | Jul 29, 2019

Are you familiar with business waste laws? If you run a business, certain business waste regulations apply to you no matter where your business is based. The duty of care on business waste is governed by the Environmental Protection Act and the UK’s policies are in line with EU practise on reducing the reliance on landfill for environmental purposes.

Why is business waste regulated?

The aim of the UK’s business waste laws is simple: to protect human health and to protect the environment.

Who do business waste laws apply to?

Essentially, anybody who generates, stores, works with, and disposes of waste is bound by the duty of care. This applies to both public and private sector businesses. Even if your business outsources its waste to a waste management company, the burden rests on the business owner to ensure that this waste is being dealt with responsibly. This is why it is important to work with a reputable, reliable waste management company.

The areas of compliance

The regulations govern the following areas of your business waste:

  • The correct sorting and storage of your business waste
  • Your waste carrier
  • Correct business waste disposal

Business waste compliance quick tips

  • Sort: Separate your waste into different categories and store this in clearly labelled containers.
  • Store: Do not allow for contamination between different types of waste.
  • Ensure the container you are using is suitable for the task and doesn’t allow for leaking, seeping, overflowing, or any form of escaped waste.
  • Transport: Whether you dispose of your waste yourself or through a waste management company, a waste transfer license will be necessary. The onus rests on the business owner to ensure that any waste management company they work with is licensed.
  • Treatment: European regulation requires non-hazardous waste to be treated prior to disposal. This is environmentally-motivated and aims to promote recycling.
  • Dispose: The landfill or recycling facility used for disposal of business waste must be licensed to dispose of the waste.

Waste transfer notes: what you need to know

Every time waste is removed from your business premises, a waste transfer note needs to be filled out. A waste transfer note contains the following information:

  • The waste type and quantity
  • How it is contained
  • The place and date of collection and disposal.

For the record, you need to keep your waste transfer notes for two years.

Landfill considerations: a business imperative

These days, the more business waste you keep out of landfill, the better this is for your profits. The EU Landfill Directive sets a Union-wide standard for landfills and landfill-use – including the establishment and operation of landfills, the waste which will be accepted for landfill, and the targets for diverting waste from landfill.

Hazardous waste: know the risks of non-compliance

What is hazardous waste?

Hazardous waste is waste which can be harmful to health and the environment. Many businesses overlook the fact that they generate hazardous waste in conducting their daily business including batteries, computer monitors, fridges, TV sets, aerosols, fluorescent light tubes, paints, solvents, and oil.

No mixing

Hazardous and non-hazardous waste strictly may not be disposed of together in landfills. Whenever hazardous and non-hazardous waste is mixed without a permit, it will be classified as hazardous waste.

Hazardous waste must be pre-treated before it goes to landfill. You may not treat your own hazardous waste unless you are authorised to do so.

Hazardous waste disposal tips:

  • Hazardous waste may be stored for up to 12 months without a permit or waste management license. However, the amount of hazardous waste you may store at any one time is restricted.
  • It also needs to be stored safely and correctly.
  • Hazardous waste requires a consignment note for transportation.
  • Only dispose of hazardous waste at authorised sites
  • Make every effort to reduce and recycle your hazardous waste before sending it for disposal.
  • Work with a registered or exempt waste carrier.
  • Only dispose of hazardous waste at a site authorised to dispose of it.
  • Hazardous waste may only be accepted at a landfill site if it meets the prescribed criteria and it has the necessary permit to accept the waste.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment

Certain businesses in the UK are subject to the UK Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations. These businesses are generally sellers and importers of electrical and electronic equipment in the UK.

Contact Smarter Business today to find out more about your waste responsibilities.

Packaging waste

The Packaging Waste Regulations are in force in an attempt to reduce the quantity of packaging waste generated by Britain’s businesses each year. Largely plastic and cardboard, the regulations around packaging materials urge business owners to be responsible for their environmental obligations. These regulations require qualifying businesses to register with the Environment Agency, document their packaging waste, pay for recovery and recycling.

Pre-treatment for non-hazardous waste

Non-hazardous waste must be pre-treated before going to landfill through a chemical, physical, thermal, or biological process. This reduces the waste volume and allows it to be safely handled, recovered, and – where possible – recycled.

The moral, environmental, and legal argument for recycling

The UK Waste Regulations require businesses to separate their recyclable materials (paper, glass, and plastic) from general waste. Again, this is to reduce the impact on landfill sites and for the sake of the environment. Government waste policy is predicated on a system of waste hierarchy intended to urge consumers to consider prevention, re-use, and recycling before disposal.

Over the years, recycling has become simpler and simpler and, in levying landfills, waste management has become a point of strategy for businesses.

What are the penalties for non-compliance with business waste laws?

Failure to comply with the waste duty of care requirements results in severe penalties including a fine of up to £50 000 or five years’ imprisonment. These include leaving your bins outside of collection time, waste transfer note infractions, and fly-tipping (the dumping of waste anywhere without a permit to receive it).

How Smarter Business can help your business with its waste management

Your business waste management can be a simple strategic point for your business and a quick way to save on its essential services. Smarter Business works with businesses of all sizes to devise bespoke waste management plans suited to every business’s unique needs. Contact us today to find out more about our specialist waste services:

  • Business waste removal
  • Emergency waste removal
  • Commercial recycling services
  • Dry-mix recycling
  • Single stream recycling
  • Food waste management

Find out more about business waste laws on GOV.UK.

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