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Waste Regulations – Duty of care

Duty of care

Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 impose a legal duty of care on anyone – from producers to carriers and disposers of waste, to ensure that:

  • Waste is not illegally disposed of or dealt with without a license or in breach of a license or in a way that causes pollution or harm
  • Waste does not escape from a person’s control
  • Waste is transferred only to an authorised person such as a local authority, a registered carrier or a licensed disposer

Waste carriers or brokers

Under the 'Duty of Care' legislation, all businesses, no matter how small that carry waste on the public highway, or arrange the transport of waste by others, must be registered with the Environment Agency. Further details about the Duty of Care, the requirement to register, or to check whether any business is registered, can be obtained from the Environment Agency website for Waste Carriers or Brokers.

Duty of care for businesses

Under the Duty of Care Regulations 1991, anyone transferring waste is required to complete and retain a transfer note containing a written description of that waste. The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has provided statutory guidance on the completion of the duty of care transfer note in waste management, the duty of care: a code of practice

What are the penalties?

Breach of the duty of care is an offence, with penalties of upto £5000 upon summary conviction or an unlimited fine upon conviction on indictment.

Duty of care for housholders

The waste (Household Waste) Duty of Care (England & Wales) Regulations 2005 which came into force on 21 November 2005 places a new duty of care on householders to take reasonable measures to ensure that their household waste produced on their property is transferred only to an authorised person. This could affect you if, for example, you have hired builders, gardeners or scrap metal merchants who take materials away from your house. If these materials get fly-tipped, you can now be held responsible and are liable to get fined.

How can I make sure my waste is disposed of correctly?

If you've hired contractors such as builders, tradesmen, landscape gardeners, house clearers or scrap metal merchants etc, who are removing waste items from your property, these people will normally need a waste carrier registration.

Ask your contractor if they're a registered waste carrier and ask for their waste carrier number. If your contractor is not registered, you should refuse their services and request they seek advice from the Environment Agency.

How do I know if a carrier is registered or not?

Anyone removing waste from your household should be licensed with the Environment Agency. This can be checked by contacting them on 08708 506 506 and requesting an instant waste carrier validation check or by checking online through their website on their waste carrier register

What are the penalties?

If fly-tipped waste is traced back to your property you can be fined up to £5,000 in a Magistrates Court.

Further information regarding Duty of Care can be obtained from the following websites:

If you wish to report the escape of waste from commercial or industrial premises or someone collecting household waste who does not have authorisation, please contact the Public Protection Department's Pollution Control Team.

Last Updated: 03/04/2017
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