All businesses can benefit from effective commercial waste management, regardless of its size. Poor waste management costs businesses more and contributes to the environmental issues including of climate change which is why it’s so important to have address the issue properly.

Commercial waste categories include agriculture, construction, demolition, industry; basically any commercial activities including any that you operate from home.

Dealing responsibly with any waste your business produces in England is required and is referred to as your “duty of care”.

About Duty of Care – Responsibilities
You’ll need to register your premises if you store or produce hazardous waste.
In most cases you’ll have to get a permit to store, treat, transport and/or dispose of the waste yourself.
You are required to store your waste safely and securely

You’ll need to follow the rules for moving waste off your business premises
If you transport your own waste you’ll need to obtain a license
Follow the restrictions if you plan on moving waste between countries
Use a licensed clearance company to collect, recover, recycle or dispose of your waste
Additional responsibility will come into play if you’re transporting hazardous waste

If you deal with hazardous waste you’ll have additional responsibilities including the following:
Classifying your waste and being able to determine whether it’s non-hazardous or hazardous (including oil) so you’ll be able to sort them out correctly. Plasterboard and gypsum must be separated from other wastes when it’s sent for disposal and can’t go into landfills mixed in with biodegradables. The only way plasterboard and gypsum can be accepted at a landfill site with a permit.

Display written instructions regarding storing and disposal (records must be kept about the waste and where it’s being stored).

Identify the risks of storage as well as how to control them
Regularly inspect containers looking for deterioration, leaks and/or other potential risks

Get an environmental permit to mix waste (the permit will clarify the additional requirements for storing your own or another businesses waste on your site)

A company’s duty of care lasts from the time it produces waste until they turn it over to a licenced waste business for disposal, keeping in mind however that it’s still your responsibility to verify how that business handles the waste. If they’re concerned that the commercial waste management company isn’t following the duty of care they’ll need to report it.

Consider the Alternatives
Before you dispose of your waste, consider the alternatives including using fewer hazardous materials, reusing and recycling items as often as possible, recover via incinerate or use anaerobic digestion for energy recovery, dispose of waste via landfill and incineration without energy recovery;’ these alternatives are referred to as the “Waste Hierarchy”.

Do You Need a Licence and Registration?
In most cases, businesses need a permit to store, treat and dispose of waste however at this time they won’t be required to register if they produce less than 500kg of waste in a 12 month period. If the business produces or stores hazardous waste they are required to register their company’s premises in England, apply for an environmental permit or registered exemption in England.

Contact the Environment Agency with any questions you have regarding the disposal of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste and to find out if you need to apply for a registered exemption or environmental permit.