Keep waste to a minimum by doing everything you reasonably can to prevent, reuse, recycle or recover waste (in that order).
Sort and store waste safely and securely.
Complete a waste transfer note for each load of waste that leaves your premises.
Check if your waste carrier is registered to dispose of waste.
Not allow the waste carrier to dispose of your waste illegally (and report them to crimestoppers if they do).
You have extra responsibilities if you're dealing with hazardous waste.
Business waste includes any waste that comes from:
- any commercial activity – including any you run from your home
How long your duty of care lasts
Your duty of care lasts from the moment you produce the waste until you give it to a licensed waste business to deal with.
You’re still responsible to check how that business deals with your waste if you suspect it’s not following the duty of care.
You should report if another business mishandles your waste.
- classify your waste and know if it’s hazardous or non-hazardous so you can deal with it correctly
- register your premises if you produce or store hazardous waste
- usually get a permit to store, treat, transport or dispose of your waste yourself
- store your waste safely and securely
- follow the rules for moving waste off your business premises
- check that any business you use to deal with your waste is licensed, and keep proof of this – eg take a copy of their licence
You have extra responsibilities if you’re dealing with hazardous waste.
You must consider all other options before you dispose of waste.
Consider these 5 steps in order. They’re known as the ‘waste hierarchy’.
Prevent – eg use fewer and less hazardous materials, and use things for longer.
Recover – eg anaerobic digestion or incineration for energy recovery.
Dispose – eg landfill and incineration without energy recovery.
Classifying Different Types of Waste
You must describe any waste your business produces before you send it for recycling and disposal.
Classifying your waste will help you:
- decide how to handle it
- complete the paperwork you must give waste contractors so they can manage your waste - this is part of your ‘duty of care’
You may need to meet additional requirements if you want to dispose of hazardous waste.
What to include in your description
Your description must include:
- the waste classification code, also referred to as LoW (List of Waste) or EWC (European Waste Catalogue) code - you can find codes in the technical guidance on waste
- whether it’s hazardous
- the type of premises or business where the waste was produced
- the name of the substance or substances
- the process that produced the waste
- a chemical and physical analysis
- any special problems, requirements or knowledge related to the waste
You must consider all the waste your business produces.
Check the technical guidance on waste
- it also includes information about waste classification, hazardous waste and waste sampling.
You must not use landfill waste acceptance criteria (WAC) results for waste classification purposes.
How to find out if your waste is hazardous
In most cases you can check the waste code or codes associated with your type of waste - it’ll have an asterisk if it’s hazardous.
Some wastes may have both hazardous and non-hazardous entries, eg where one refers to the containing hazardous substances.
In these cases, you must determine the waste’s composition and assess if it has hazardous properties or components before you can classify it - check the manufacturers’ product safety data sheets for this information.
Many products include orange and black danger symbols or red and white hazard pictograms to indicate they’re hazardous - check the technical guidance on waste for more information.
Some products (eg cosmetics and medicines) aren’t normally labeled with hazard symbols - check the product’s safety data sheet.
It’s illegal to mix a hazardous waste with either non-hazardous or another hazardous waste.
Check how to mix and store hazardous waste in the technical guidance on waste
You will usually need more than one code if you store more than one type of non-hazardous waste in your container.
If you need more help
You can seek advice from a specialist waste contractor if you’re not sure whether it’s hazardous or not.
For more information, contact the Environment Agency.
Licenses and Registration
You must sort and keep separate:
- hazardous waste and non-hazardous waste
- different types of non-hazardous waste
- different types of hazardous waste
- different types of waste oil
Store your waste
You must store waste safely and securely. To do this:
- store waste in a secure place
- use suitable containers that will stop waste escaping
- label containers clearly with the type of waste they contain
- use covers to stop waste blowing away
- use waterproof covers if rain could cause contaminated run-off or prevent the waste from being reused
- keep liquid hazardous waste in a dedicated area, with a bund or barrier to to stop liquid leaking, eg into a drain
You have extra responsibilities if you’re storing hazardous waste – you must:
- display written instructions for storing and disposing of it
- keep records about it and where it’s located
- carry out a risk assessment, eg to identify what the risks are and how to control them
- regularly check for leaks, deteriorating containers or other potential risks
You may need an environmental permit to store your own or other people’s waste. The permit will confirm any extra rules for storing waste on your site.
There are extra responsibilities for certain types of waste – read the technical guidance on waste for more advice about separating and mixing hazardous waste during production, storage, transport, recovery and disposal.
There are rules on how to move waste off your business premises.
- use a licensed waste business to collect, recycle, recover or dispose of your waste in England
- get a licence to transport your own waste in England
- keep to the restrictions if you move waste between countries
You have extra responsibilities depending on whether you’re moving:
- hazardous waste
- non-hazardous waste
Waste collectors must set up separate collections of waste for:
- paper and cardboard
Move waste between countries
You can usually only import or export waste to recover it. You won’t usually be able to import or export waste for disposal, eg landfill.
You have different responsibilities depending on whether you’re disposing of:
- hazardous waste
- non-hazardous waste
You have extra responsibilities when you’re dealing with electrical waste if you’re a distributor.
Gypsum and plasterboard
You must keep gypsum and plasterboard separate from other wastes when you send it for disposal. It must not go to landfill mixed with biodegradable waste.
You can only send gypsum and plasterboard to a landfill site with a permit to accept it.