Your duty of care
The duty of care is a law that says you must take all reasonable steps to keep waste safe.
If you give waste to someone else, you must be sure they are authorised to take it and can transport, recycle or dispose of it safely.
If you break this law, you can be fined an unlimited amount.
Does it affect me?
The duty of care applies to anyone who produces or imports, keeps or stores, transports, treats or disposes of waste.
It also applies if you act as a broker and arrange such actions.
What is waste?
It can be anything you own, or your business produces, and you want to get rid of.
What is controlled waste?
It is commercial, industrial or household waste.
It can be from the office, house, school, university, hospital, residential or nursing home, shop, factory or any other trade or business.
It may be solid or liquid, scrap metal or a scrap car.
It does not have to be hazardous or toxic to be a controlled waste.
What about household waste?
If the waste comes from your own home, the duty of care does not apply to you.
However, if the waste is not from the house you live in - for example if it is waste from your workplace or waste from someone else's house - the duty of care does apply.
How do I know what to do?
The law says you must take all reasonable steps to fulfill the duty and complete some paperwork.
What is reasonable depends on what you do with the waste.
What must I do if I have waste?
When you have waste the law says you must stop it escaping from your control.
You must store it safely and securely.
You must prevent it causing pollution or harming anyone.
Firstly, make it secure and keep it in a suitable container.
Secondly, if you give waste to someone else, check they have authority to take it.
The law says that the person to whom you give your waste must be authorised to take it.
What must I do if I take waste from someone else?
Firstly, you must be sure the law allows you to take it.
Secondly, make sure the person giving you the waste describes it in writing.
You must fill in and sign a transfer note.
You must also keep a copy of the transfer note.
Who has authority to take waste?
Council waste collectors: However, if you are not a householder, you will have to complete some paperwork.
Registered waste carriers: Most carriers of waste have to be registered with the Environment Agency. Check the carrier's certificate of registration or call the Agency. Exempt waste carriers: The main people who are exempt are charities and voluntary organisations. Most exempt carriers need to register their exemption with the Environment Agency. If someone tells you they are exempt, ask them why. You can also check with the Agency.
Holders of waste management licenses: Some licenses are valid only for certain kinds of waste or certain activities. Ask to see the license and check that it covers your kind of waste.
What paperwork should I fill in?
When waste is passed from one person to another the person taking the waste must have a written description of it.
A transfer note must also be filled in and signed by both persons involved in the transfer.
Repeated transfers of the same kind of waste between the same parties can be covered by one transfer note for up to one year, for example, for the regular collection of waste from the same location.
The transfer note must include the following information:
What the waste is and how much there is.
What sort of container it is in.
The time and date the waste was transferred.
Where the transfer took place.
The names and addresses of both persons involved in the transfer.
Whether the person transferring the waste is the importer or the producer of the waste.
Details of which category of authorised person each one is.
If the waste is passed to someone for authorized transport purposes, you must say which of those purposes applies.
The registered waste carrier's certificate number and the Environment Agency that issued it.
The reasons for any exemption from the requirement to register or have a licence.
The name and address of any broker involved in the transfer of waste.
Must I keep records?
Both persons involved in the transfer must keep copies of the transfer notes for two years.
They may have to prove in court where waste came from and what they did with it.
A copy of the transfer note must also be made available to the Environment Agency if they ask to see it.
For more information contact:
The Environment Agency
Telephone: 01454 624 400
Fax: 01454 624 409