Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Duty of care - Your waste responsibilities

All businesses produce waste and most types of business waste are classed as controlled waste. Controlled waste includes commercial, industrial and household waste.

You have a legal responsibility to ensure that you produce, store, transport and dispose of controlled waste without harming the environment. This is called your duty of care.

This guide explains what you must do to comply with your duty of care for waste. It describes how to segregate and store your waste safely, who can deal with your waste, and the records you must keep.

Waste is hard to define, but is generally anything that you discard, intend to discard or are required to discard. This covers more than just objects and substances you have decided to dispose of. Material being recovered, eg sent for recycling or prepared for reuse, is also waste.

Examples of waste include:

  • used packaging
  • used paper
  • rubble, timber and plasterboard from demolition
  • trade effluent, such as condensate water from compressed-air equipment
  • old pieces of electrical equipment

Once a substance or object has become waste, it will remain waste until it has been fully recovered and no longer poses a potential threat to the environment or human health. When something becomes waste it becomes more tightly regulated.

If you are not sure whether a substance or object is classed as waste, contact your environmental regulator.

Contact your environmental regulator

Business waste and domestic waste

Business waste or trade waste or commercial waste is any material disposed of by any organisation, whether for profit or not and whether public or private.

Domestic waste is waste generated by households.

NetRegs guidance refers to business waste.

What is hazardous/special waste?

Waste that is harmful to human health or the natural environment is known as hazardous waste in Northern Ireland and special waste in Scotland.

Examples of hazardous/special waste include:

  • lead-acid batteries
  • fluorescent light tubes
  • electrical equipment containing hazardous components, such as cathode ray tubes in televisions
  • waste oils
  • solvents
  • discarded chemicals
  • asbestos

Further information

NetRegs: Duty of Care for waste (Scotland) leaflet (PDF - 775KB)

SEPA: About waste

NetRegs: Duty of Care e-learning tools: Scotland and Northern Ireland versions. Sign up to use the free interactive e-learning tools.

As a business, you have a legal responsibility to ensure that you produce, store, transport and dispose of your business waste without harming the environment. This is called your duty of care.

The duty of care has no time limit. You are specifically responsible for your waste from when you produce it until you have transferred it to an authorised person. However your duty does not end when you hand over the waste to the next holder. It extends along the entire chain of management of your waste. If you think that your waste is not being managed correctly you must take action to check and prevent this.

You must:

  • segregate, store and transport your waste appropriately and securely, making sure that you do not cause any pollution or harm to human health
  • check that your waste is transported and handled by people or businesses that are authorised to do so
  • complete waste transfer notes, including a full, accurate description of the waste, to document all waste you transfer, and keep them as a record for at least two years.

If a waste carrier takes your waste away, you need to check that they are authorised to accept it.

NIEA: Registered carriers database

SEPA: Who is registered?

In Northern Ireland, if you ‘normally and regularly’ transport waste as part of your business, you must be registered as a waste carrier with the NIEA. If you transport your own construction or demolition waste you must register as an upper tier waste carrier. If you are not certain whether or not you should be registered NIEA can help you. NIEA provides guidance on what is meant by the term ‘normally and regularly’ in the glossary of the terms of the following Duty of Care code of practice.

NIEA: Duty of Care code of practice

In Scotland if you normally and regularly transport waste produced by your own business, you must register with SEPA as a professional collector or transporter of waste. If you transport your own construction or demolition waste you must usually register as a waste carrier instead. You will soon be able to register online. If you need to register before the online service is available, download the application form.

SEPA: Application form to register as a professional collector or transporter of waste (Adobe PDF - 54KB)

If your business carries out work at private households any waste you produce is classed as business waste and this guidance will apply to this waste. This includes waste you collect when you deliver new items.

If you transport construction or demolition waste, or other people's waste you may need to register as a waste carrier, broker or dealer

Waste carriers, brokers and dealers

If you use contactors who create waste on your site it is good practice to ensure that your contract clarifies who has responsibility for the waste.

If your business is home-based any waste you produce from your business activities is classed as business waste. You must keep it separate from your household waste and complete waste transfer notes when it is collected or disposed of. See the page in this guideline on completing waste transfer notes

The NIEA has produced a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.

NIEA: Duty of Care - a short guide

Further Information

NetRegs: Duty of Care for Waste (Scotland) leaflet (PDF - 775KB)

NetRegs: Duty of Care e-learning tools: Scotland and Northern Ireland versions. Sign up to use the free interactive e-learning tools.

Find your nearest waste site

Contact your environmental regulator

Northern Ireland: The duty of care for waste management code of practice (PDF- 333KB)

NIEA: Construction and Demolition Waste and Recycled Concrete

Scottish Government: Duty of care - a code of practice

SEPA: What is your Duty of Care?

The European Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC requires member states to take steps to develop "recycling societies". This will involve a shift in the way waste is viewed; from being a problem to being a valued resource. This resource centred approach can be summarised in the five steps of the waste hierarchy.

What you must do

In addition to the requirements covered in the other sections of this guideline, businesses in Northern Ireland must:

  • take all reasonable steps to apply the waste hierarchy to the management of waste
  • present glass, metal, plastic, paper, and card (including cardboard) for separate collection
  • take steps to maintain the quality of these dry recyclables presented for recycling, such as avoiding contamination by non target materials.

You may be able to present co-mingled materials so long as the collection, and then the management of the materials, is designed to produce high quality recycling.

NIEA: Duty of Care – A Code of Practice

NIEA: Regulatory Position Statement – Separate Collection of Dry Recyclables

The NIEA has produced a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.

NIEA: Duty of Care - a short guide

Food businesses

A food business is any business that carries out activities related to the processing, distribution, preparation or sale of food. This includes:

  • Restaurants and cafes
  • Shopping and food courts
  • Canteens
  • Hotels
  • Pubs that serve food
  • Shops that serve food
  • Supermarkets
  • Schools and colleges
  • Prisons, nursing homes and hospitals.

If you are a food business then you must be prepared to present food waste for separate collection:

  • by 1 April 2016 for large producers
  • by 1 April 2017 for small producers and Health and Social Care trusts.

You are a large producer if you regularly produce more than 50kg of food waste per week.

You are a small producer if you regularly produce between 5kg and 50kg of food waste per week.

(A 120 litre bin holds approximately 60kg of food waste)

Exempt businesses

Your businesses are exempt from the regulations if:

  • You produce less than 5kg of food waste per week
  • You deal with catering waste that has arisen from international transport. International is a Category 1 Animal By-product and therefore requires specialist management.

(5kg is roughly equivalent to a full domestic kitchen caddy)

There is a prohibition on the landfilling of separately collected food waste from 1 April 2015. The regulations also introduce a duty on businesses to ensure food waste is not deposited in a lateral drain or sewer from 1 April 2017.

Further Information

NIEA: Duty of Care – A Code of Practice

NIEA: Regulatory position statement – Food Waste Guidance

Food Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015

The European Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC requires member states to take steps to develop "recycling societies". This will involve a shift in the way waste is viewed; from being a problem to being a valued resource. This resource centred approach can be summarised in the five steps of the waste hierarchy.

What you must do

In addition to the requirements covered in the other sections of this guideline, businesses in Scotland must:

  • take all reasonable steps to apply the waste hierarchy to the management of waste
  • present glass, metal, plastic, paper, and card (including cardboard) for separate collection
  • take steps to maintain the quality of these dry recyclables presented for recycling, such as avoiding contamination by non target materials.

You may be able to present co-mingled materials so long as the collection, and then the management of the materials, is designed to produce high quality recycling.

Scottish Government: Guidance on applying the waste hierarchy (PDF, 753KB)

Food businesses

A food business is any business that carries out activities related to the processing, distribution, preparation or sale of food. Examples include:

  • restaurants and cafes
  • shopping centre food courts
  • canteens
  • hotels
  • pubs that serve food
  • shops that sell food
  • supermarkets
  • schools and colleges
  • prisons, nursing homes and hospitals.

If you are a food business you must be prepared to present food waste for separate collection.

Exempt businesses

Your food businesses are exempt from the regulations only if:

  • your premises are located in a rural area (as defined by the Scottish Government)
  • you produce less than 5kg of food waste per week
  • you deal with catering waste from international transport (Category 1 animal by-products) where existing controls still apply.

You can find out if your business is located in a rural area by searching the list of postcodes published by the Scottish Government.

Scottish Government: Defining rural and non-rural areas to support zero waste policies

The use of macerators to dispose of food waste in the sewer system is now banned, except for domestic premises and food producers in rural areas.

Further information

Regulations introducing these new duties: the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2011, the Waste Management Licensing (Scotland) Regulations 2011 and the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012.

NetRegs: Duty of Care for waste (Scotland) leaflet (PDF - 775KB)

SEPA and Resource Efficient Scotland: Segregating materials for recycling leaflet

Scottish Government: Duty of care - a code of practice

Zero Waste Scotland: The Waste (Scotland) Regulations - Frequently Asked Questions

SEPA: What is your Duty of Care?

SEPA: Encourage your customers to recycle

SEPA: Zero Waste

SEPA: Food waste recycling

SEPA Guidance: Food waste management in Scotland

You must ensure that anyone who handles your waste has the correct permit, registration or exemption.

Your transporter of waste has to be registered with SEPA or NIEA; and anyone who recycles, treats, stores, reprocesses or disposes of your waste must have:

  • either a waste management licence or pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit,
  • or a registered exemption from waste management licensing for your type of waste and what they do with it.

Find your nearest waste site

 

Check your waste carrier is registered

Anyone who collects and transports your waste must be either:

  • a registered carrier of controlled waste
  • exempt from registration as a waste carrier
  • in Scotland, on the register of professional collectors and transporters of waste

This will include your local council's waste collectors of waste.

People who may be authorised to collect your waste include:

  • waste contractors
  • scrap metal merchants
  • recycling businesses
  • your local council
  • skip hire businesses

You must check that your waste carrier is registered or holds an exemption. You need to keep evidence of this so you can prove you have checked if necessary.

Ask to see your waste carrier's certificate of registration or a certified copy of it, which will show when their registration expires. Photocopies do not provide evidence of registration. You can take a photocopy of the certificate for your own records, date it and write on it that you have seen the original. In Scotland, authorised credit card sized copies of the certificate are also acceptable proof of registration.

NIEA: Registered carriers / transporters database

SEPA: Registered waste carriers and brokers

In Scotland, certain types of organisation and carriers of certain waste types, such as animal by-products waste, mines and quarry wastes, and agricultural waste, are exempt from waste carrier registration but still need to go on a register of professional collectors and transporters of waste. They won't have a certificate, but they should still be able to provide proof of registration in the form of a letter confirming their registration.

SEPA: Online applications for registration as professional collector or transporter or waste, and for waste carrier

 

If you transport your own waste

In Northern Ireland if you only transport waste produced by your own business, you do so normally and regularly, and that waste is not construction or demolition waste, you must be registered with the NIEA as Lower Tier Carrier of controlled waste; registration is free. If you transport your business waste but that is construction and demolition waste, you must be registered with the NIEA as Upper Tier.

DAERA NI: Register as a Lower Tier carrier

DAERA NI: Registration of carriers and brokers

In Scotland if you normally and regularly transport waste produced by your own business, you must register with SEPA as a professional collector or transporter of waste. If you transport your own construction or demolition waste you must usually register as a waste carrier instead. Register online.

SEPA: Online applications for registration as professional collector or transporter or waste, and for waste carrier

 

Further information

NetRegs: Duty of Care for waste (Scotland) leaflet (PDF - 775KB)

NIEA: Registered carriers - database

SEPA: Registered waste carriers and brokers - database

NIEA: Waste duty of care – a code of practice

NIEA: Waste duty of care - a short guide

Scottish Government: Duty of care - a code of practice

Find your nearest waste site

If you transport your own waste or other businesses’ waste, you must make sure that the site you take the waste to is authorised to accept it. You must make sure it has the necessary licence or registered exemption and that it is authorised to receive your particular waste types. Take a copy of the permit and keep it for your records. You should repeat these checks regularly, as registrations and authorisations can change, expire or be revoked.

It is good practice to do this even if a registered carrier transports your waste for you. Checking that your waste is going to be taken to an authorised site is a good way to show that you have taken reasonable steps to prevent your waste from being handled or disposed of illegally.

You could also carry out site visits and undertake audits to help you to ensure that your waste is handled correctly from when it leaves your premises to the final point of recovery or disposal. See the page in this guideline on who can deal with your waste?

If you make arrangements with more than one business to deal with your waste, you must make sure each has the correct authorisation. For example, if you have separate contracts with a waste carrier and a waste processor, you must check the carrier is registered and the waste processor has the necessary licence or exemption to accept your waste.

Further information

Find your nearest waste site

NetRegs: Duty of Care for waste (Scotland) leaflet (PDF - 775KB)

A waste transfer note (WTN) is a document that details the transfer of waste from one person to another. You must ensure every load of waste you receive or pass to others is covered by a WTN. The only exception is when you receive household waste directly from the householder who produced it, but you will need a WTN when you pass that waste to someone else.

WTNs ensure that there is a clear audit trail from when the waste is produced until it is disposed of. You must keep copies of all your WTNs for at least two years and must be able to produce them on demand to your environmental regulator or local council, or you could be fined.

You must check that anyone you pass your waste to holds the relevant registration, permit or exemption for the type of waste you pass to them. See the page in this guideline on who can deal with your waste?

There is no standard WTN and many waste carriers produce their own versions.

You can now make use of the national e-doc (electronic duty of care) scheme which is a free, online alternative to paper based waste transfer notes.

e-doc: Electronic Duty of Care

SEPA: Example of a WTN (PDF, 65K)

NIEA: Example of a WTN

What a WTN should contain

A WTN must be completed and signed by both the person handing over the waste and the person receiving it. It must contain enough information about the waste for it to be handled safely and either recovered or disposed of legally. If you do not give enough information and your waste is mismanaged as a result, you could be prosecuted.

The WTN must include:

  • a description of the waste
  • any processes the waste has been through
  • how the waste is contained or packaged
  • the quantity of the waste
  • the place, date and time of transfer
  • the name and address of both parties
  • details of the permit, licence or exemption of the person receiving the waste
  • the appropriate European Waste Catalogue (EWC) code for your waste
  • the Standard Industry Code (SIC) of your business

In Northern Ireland you will also have to include a statement that you have applied the waste hierarchy.

Find your codes

You can find the SIC code that applies to your business on the Companies House website.

Companies House: Guide to SIC 2007

EWC codes, also known as list of wastes codes, classify waste materials by what they are and how they are produced. Read the guidance on EWC codes.

Hazardous Waste - Consolidated List of Waste (see Appendix A)

EWC Codes Waste Thesaurus: SEPA guidance for coding waste An alphabetical list of waste types with their corresponding EWC codes.

You should never rely on waste carriers or waste management contractors to describe your waste for you. As the producer, you are most able to describe your waste accurately. It is not acceptable to use non-specific terms such as 'general waste'.

You need to complete separate paperwork for hazardous/special waste - see our guideline on hazardous/special waste.

Use a waste transfer note season ticket

For repeat transfers you can use a season ticket. This is a single WTN that can cover multiple transfers over a period of up to 12 months. You can agree to use a season ticket if all of the following stay the same:

  • the parties involved in the transfer - the waste producer and the waste carrier or waste disposal business
  • the description of the waste being transferred
  • the place where the waste is transferred from one person to the other

If any of these conditions change, you will need a new WTN.

For more information on checking the journey of waste after it leaves your premises, see our guideline on waste carriers and brokers

Further information

NIEA: Duty of Care – A Code of Practice

Scottish Government: Duty of care - a code of practice

NetRegs: Duty of Care e-learning tools: Scotland and Northern Ireland versions. Sign up to use the free interactive e-learning tools.

The NIEA has produced a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.

NIEA: Duty of Care - a short guide

 

European Waste Catalogue (EWC) - for coding waste

The European Waste Catalogue (EWC) List of Wastes is a standardised way of describing waste. The EWC is used when completing:

  • waste data returns,
  • waste transfer notes, and
  • hazardous/special waste consignment notes.

What is the EWC?

The EWC is a list of waste types which categorises wastes based on a combination of what they are, and the process or activity that produces them.

The EWC is divided into 20 chapters. Waste types are assigned a six-digit code:

  • The first two digits are the chapter
  • The next two are the sub-chapter
  • the last two are the specific to the waste type

Hazardous/special wastes are identified using an asterisk (*).

Why use EWC codes?

The use of EWC codes to describe waste is a legal requirement of the Duty of Care for waste which requires the holder of waste to take all reasonable steps to ensure that waste is described in a way that permits its safe handling and management.

Find the EWC code for my waste type

SEPA has produced an alphabetical list of waste types with their relevant EWC codes. The Waste Thesaurus: SEPA guidance for coding waste is a useful tool to identify the correct EWC code for your waste type.

If you can’t find a code for your waste check the Guidance on classification and assessment of waste.

 

Useful information

SEPA: Guidance on using the European Waste Catalogue (EWC) to code waste

DAERA: Waste returns guidance document

NetRegs: Duty of Care for waste (Scotland) leaflet (PDF - 775KB)

All waste has the potential to pollute the environment if you do not handle or store it properly.

You may store your own waste while you wait for it to be removed from your site.

To store other people's waste, you may need a waste management licence or a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit.

Waste management licences

PPC permits

If your waste is going to be reused or recycled, you can register an exemption to store various amounts of non-hazardous waste securely, depending on the waste type.

Waste exemptions

You should give instructions to all employees and contractors working at your premises on how to handle and dispose of each type of waste you produce. Check regularly that your employees and contractors are following these instructions.

 

Use suitable waste containers

You must store all waste materials safely and securely in suitable, well maintained containers.

Label containers clearly with their contents so that the correct waste is stored in them and future holders will know what they contain. If you reuse containers, make sure that you remove any old labels.

Ensure that waste cannot blow away. If you store waste in skips or other similar containers, ensure that they are covered or netted. Store waste under cover, if exposure to the elements will prevent it from being reused, or cause contaminated run-off.

 

Separate waste

You must separate hazardous/special waste from other types of waste and keep different types of hazardous/special waste separately. You should separate materials that are incompatible, such as chemicals that may react together if they leak.

There are new legal requirements for businesses:

  • you must apply the waste hierarchy to all waste (reduce, re-use, recycle, recover, disposal)
  • you must segregate dry recyclables for separate collection: metal, plastic, glass, paper and card (including cardboard)
  • in Scotland, except in rural areas, if you are a food business generating more than 5kg of food waste per week, you must segregate your food waste from other waste, for separate collection.
  • in Northern Ireland if you are a food business generating more than 50 kg of food waste per week, you must make sure you have separate collection of that waste; from 1 April 2017 this will apply to the food businesses generating more than 5kg of food waste per week. There is a prohibition on the landfilling of separately collected food waste from 1 April 2015
  • a ban on the mixing of separated recyclable materials and a ban on sending separated recyclable materials to landfill or incineration.

SEPA and the NIEA have produced guidance on the new regulations.

SEPA: The zero waste regulations

NIEA: Regulatory Position Statement – Separate Collection of Dry Recyclables

NIEA: Regulatory position statement – Food Waste Guidance

It is good practice to separate all different recyclable waste types. This can increase the value of your waste to the waste contractor and save you money in disposal costs.

The NIEA has produced a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.

NIEA: Duty of Care - a short guide

 

Contain liquid wastes

You must prevent liquid wastes and pollutants from escaping into drains, watercourses, waterways or surrounding ground. Store wastes on impermeable surfaces within a secondary containment system. Ideally this should be a bund which is large enough to hold the leaked contents of the storage containers.

Preventing water pollution

Storing chemicals

 

Protect waste from vandalism

Ensure that your storage facilities are secure against vandalism, theft and accidental damage. You are responsible for any pollution caused by materials that come from your site.

 

Further information

NetRegs: Duty of Care for waste (Scotland) leaflet (PDF - 775KB)

Find your nearest waste site

Contact your environmental regulator

There are specific legal requirements you must comply with if you are recovering or disposing of the following objects and materials:

Hazardous/special waste - if you produce, handle, transport, recover or dispose of wastes that could cause harm to human health or the environment, you must comply with more legal requirements than non-hazardous waste.

Hazardous/special waste

Liquid waste - if you discharge liquid waste including fats, oils and greases, chemicals and detergents to sewers, you must have a trade effluent consent.

Trade effluent – discharges to sewer

Packaging waste - if your business makes, fills, sells or handles packaging or packaging materials, you should keep the amount of packaging you use to a minimum, design your packaging so that it is easy to reuse and recycle, and minimise the amount of waste you have to dispose of. You must also comply with rules on packaging if you handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging each year and your company has a turnover of more than £2 million.

Packaging

Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) - if you produce, import, distribute or use electrical and electronic equipment, or store, treat or dispose of other people's waste electrical and electronic equipment, you must comply with rules on WEEE. Some WEEE may be classed as hazardous/special waste.

Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)

Batteries - if you produce or import industrial, automotive or portable batteries and accumulators (rechargeable batteries) or supply more than 32 kilograms of portable batteries per year to end users, you will be affected by rules on the disposal of batteries. Some waste batteries can be classed as hazardous/special waste.

Batteries

End-of-life vehicles - if you send a waste motor vehicle to be dismantled or disposed of, you must ensure that you send it to an authorised treatment facility. You should receive a certificate of destruction that allows you to deregister the vehicle with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

End-of-life vehicles (ELVs)

Construction waste - if you are planning a construction project, it is good practice to have a site waste management plan (SWMP)..

Site waste management plans – a simple guide

NIEA: Construction and Demolition Waste and Recycled Concrete

Animal by-products and food waste - animal by-products are entire animal bodies, parts of animals, products of animal origin, catering waste or other products obtained from animals that are not fit or intended for human consumption. There are strict controls on the ways animal by-products can be collected, transported, stored, handled, processed and recovered or disposed of.

Animal by-products

Radioactive waste - if you keep or use radioactive substances, or accumulate or dispose of radioactive waste materials, you may need a certificate of registration or authorisation from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Radioactive substances and wastes

Food waste - In Scotland, except in rural areas, if you process, prepare or sell food and produce more than 5kg of food waste a week, you will be required to separate that food waste from the rest of the waste you produce for separate collection. Except for domestic premises and food waste producers in rural areas, it is forbidden to use macerators to dispose of food waste in the sewer system.

Food waste – In Northern Ireland, if your business produces more than 50kg of food waste per week, you are required to have separate collection of that waste. From the 1st April 2017 this requirement will apply also to businesses producing more than 5kg and up to 50 kg of food waste per week.. There is no requirement for food businesses which produce less than 5kg of food waste, to collect it separately. From the 1 April 2017 food waste must not be deposited in a lateral drain or public sewer. The legislation does not apply to householders.

You must not send certain wastes to landfill including:

  • liquid waste - known as 'trade effluent' - see our guideline: Trade effluent – managing liquid wastes
  • used tyres
  • healthcare wastes - such as infectious clinical wastes from hospitals, medical premises or veterinary establishments
  • wastes with dangerous characteristics - including explosive, corrosive, flammable or oxidising.

You can only dispose of low-level radioactive waste in landfill. If you are not sure whether a substance or object is classed as low-level radioactive, contact your environmental regulator.

Contact your environmental regulator

You must check that any landfill site receiving your waste has a pollution prevention and control permit and is allowed to receive your type of waste.

Treating waste for landfill

Treating waste reduces the impact it has on the environment and encourages recovery and recycling. Treatment is a physical, thermal (eg incineration), chemical or biological (eg composting) process, which changes the characteristics of the waste.

All waste must be treated before you send it to landfill, except:

  • inert waste that cannot be treated
  • any other waste for which treatment would not reduce its quantity or its hazard to human health and the environment.

You can either treat waste yourself, or ensure that a later holder of the waste will treat it before it is sent to landfill.

SEPA: Guide to the prior treatment of waste for landfill

Reducing your landfill costs

The most effective way of reducing the cost of sending waste to landfill is to reduce the amount of waste you produce.

Reduce, re-use and recycle your business waste

Further information

NetRegs: Duty of Care for waste (Scotland) leaflet (PDF - 775KB)

Find your nearest waste site

NIEA: Duty of Care – A Code of Practice

Scottish Government: Duty of care - a code of practice

As a waste collector or manager you must take all reasonable steps to apply the waste hierarchy as a priority order to the management of your waste and promote 'high quality' recycling.

Since 1 January 2014 in Scotland, and since 1 January 2015 in Northern Ireland, it is the duty of waste producers to take all reasonable steps to present at least the following key dry recyclables for separate collection:

  • metals
  • glass
  • plastics
  • paper, and
  • card (including cardboard)

It is the duty of waste collectors to collect and transport these waste streams separately from other wastes.

If you offer a co-mingled collection to your customers, you must ensure that collection, transport and separation results in wastes which are of comparable quality to separately collected wastes and can be managed in a way that promotes the 'high quality' outcomes set out in the waste hierarchy guidance.

You may need a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit, waste management licence or exemption from waste management licensing from your environmental regulator to carry out some waste management activities.

If you only store waste that you produce, and it is removed from your site regularly, you shouldn't need a permit or licence. However, if your business carries out other waste management activities, you are likely to need one. This includes activities such as treating or storing other people's waste, or operating a landfill site or incineration plant.

Exemptions from waste management licensing

You can register an exemption for certain types of waste management activity. This means that as long as you comply with the terms of the exemption you will not need a permit or licence. These waste management activities are considered to pose a low risk of harm to the environment and to human health. Examples include:

  • cleaning waste textiles
  • treating waste at its place of production
  • burning plant material on open land at its place of production
  • spreading waste on land
  • storing waste electrical and electronic equipment before recovery elsewhere.

Even if your waste management activities qualify for an exemption, you normally still need to register them with NIEA or SEPA. You should speak to your environmental regulator before you carry out any waste management activities.

Contact your environmental regulator

Transporting waste

If you transport your own or other people's waste, or you act as a waste broker or dealer, you must comply with legal controls. See the page in this guideline on who can deal with your waste.

Recovery of chemicals

If you recover chemical substances from waste, you may be affected by the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation. REACH aims to protect people and the environment by placing responsibilities on businesses that manufacture, import or recover chemical substances.

Waste is excluded from the provisions of REACH. However, REACH will apply as soon as the waste ceases to be legally defined as waste - for example, when the waste is processed to recover the chemicals contained within it.

Further information

NetRegs: Duty of Care for waste (Scotland) leaflet (PDF - 775KB)

REACH regulations

If you are involved in commercial waste management read our guidance for Waste businesses

This page provides links to the full text of key pieces of environmental legislation relating to your duty of care for your business waste. The websites hosting the legislation may list amendments separately.

If you are setting up an environmental management system (EMS) for your business, you can use this list to start compiling your legal register. Your legal adviser or environmental consultant will be able to tell you if other environmental legislation applies to your specific business.

Environmental management systems and environmental reports

 

Northern Ireland Duty of Care legislation

Controlled Waste Duty of Care (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014 SR 117. Amends the Controlled Waste and Duty of Care Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013 in that they provide clarification in relation to the classification of a number of items contained in the tables to the schedule, including the sources of household, industrial and commercial waste and the nature of waste and activities producing waste.

Controlled Waste and Duty of Care Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013 SR 255. Revoke and replace the Controlled Waste Regulations (NI) 2002. Clarifies classification of wastes as ‘household’, ‘commercial’, or ‘industrial’; identifies which of these wastes incur a charge for collection and disposal. Introduce more stringent controls under the waste Duty of Care system.

Controlled Waste (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2003/404. Amends SR 2002/248 to include animal by-products.

Controlled Waste (Duty of Care) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2002/271. Creates a duty of care for controlled waste that requires all producers, carriers and managers of waste to keep records and use waste transfer notes.

Controlled Waste (Registration of Carriers and Seizure of Vehicles) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 1999/362. Describes the system for registering carriers of controlled waste and for seizing vehicles used for the illegal disposal of waste.

Food Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015 SR14. Provide for the separate collection of food waste. They place a duty on food businesses producing in excess of 5kg of food waste per week to present food waste for separate collection and place a duty on businesses to ensure food waste is not deposited in a lateral drain or sewer. Place a duty on those who transport food waste to collect and transport such waste separately from other waste.

Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order SI 1997/2778. Sets out the waste management regime covering waste carrier registration and identifying and remedying contaminated land.

 

Scotland Duty of Care legislation

Environmental Protection Act 1990. Defines the legal framework for duty of care for waste, contaminated land and statutory nuisance.

The Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) (Scotland) Regulations 2014 SSI 4

Requires a transfer note to be signed by the transferor and transferee of waste, specifies information to be included and requires copies to be kept for two years. Includes the use of SIC codes. Enables the use of electronic waste transfer notes. These regulations revoke the Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991

Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2011 SSI 226.

Enables the partial suspension, revocation, transfer and surrender of site licences, and allows licences held by the same person to be consolidated if they cover the same site or more than one mobile plant.

Waste Management Licensing (Scotland) Regulations 2011 SSI 228. Adds new exemptions. Consolidates the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 and amendments. Removes need for licence holders to have a certificate of technical competence. Requires businesses carrying their own waste to register as Professional Collectors and Transporters of Waste.

The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012. The regulations introduce a number of important new requirements including the segregation of materials such as glass, metal, plastics, paper and card for recycling. It also introduces the requirement for food businesses to present food waste for collection and a ban on sending segregated materials for incineration or to landfill. Waste contractors must provide services that enable high quality recycling.

The Waste (Recyclate Quality) (Scotland) Regulations 2015 SSI 101

Requires the holder of a Waste Management Licence to comply with the Materials Recovery Code. Also a PPC permit for the running of a waste recovery facility must contain a requirement to comply with the Materials Recovery Code.

 

Further Information

Current and future legislation

Environmental management systems and environmental reports

Hazardous/special waste

Waste management licences

PPC permits

Contact your environmental regulator

Whats new on NetRegs

  • Waste – Duty of Care Roles and Responsibilities

    The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has published a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.

    https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/waste-duty-care-responsibilities

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  • Download our NEW leaflet today: Duty of Care for waste

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    Duty of Care for waste (Scotland) leaflet (PDF - 775KB)

     

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