Your waste and the law - duty of care

Your duty of care

Anyone who -

  • produces
  • imports
  • keeps
  • stores
  • transports
  • treats
  • disposes of waste

is under a legal obligation to take all reasonable steps to ensure wastes are managed and disposed of. They must be done in accordance with the law.

This duty of care is imposed on waste holders under section 34 Environmental Protection Act 1990. It requires steps to be taken, regardless about who may act as a dealer or broker in waste. These persons are to follow the legal obligations imposed on them.

It may be an offence for any person not to follow the obligations imposed on them under this duty of care.


Every business, no matter how big or small, produces waste.

Waste can take a variety of forms and can range from -

  • paperwork
  • food and drink packaging
  • scrap metal 
  • hair
  • wood 
  • cleaning or maintenance of business premises
  • construction and demolition waste 
  • clinical and hazardous waste such as chemicals and asbestos

This duty of care imposes these requirements on waste holders relating to any form of business -

  • securely store and prevent the escape of your waste
  • take steps to prevent any other persons from disposing of your waste illegally
  • only transfer your wastes to an authorised person, also known as a registered waste carrier. Or to a person for authorised transport purposes
  • keep documents of waste transfer notes for the last 2 years. These must be produced to us or Environment Agency on request

Business rates do not include charges for the collection and disposal of wastes from any business. Practical guidance on how to meet your duty of care requirements.


If any business fails to comply with the legal duties imposed (duty of care) this may result in - 

  • fixed penalty
  • prosecution and a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine

Household duty of care

Householders must ensure reasonable measures are taken when discarding of any waste produced on their property.

Householders must take measures to ensure that waste on their property is transferred to an authorised person. This is under the Waste Household Waste Duty of Care (England and Wales) Regulations 2005. The introduction of this legislation was to reduce the risk of fly-tipping. It is to ensure householders work with us to combat this illegal activity.

The safest way to follow this duty, is to use the services provided by us to recycle and dispose of your waste.

Household waste disposed other than through the services provided by us, must only take place to an authorised person. Or this can be taken to a person for authorised transport purposes.

It is an offence not to follow this household duty of care, and this can result in a fixed penalty or prosecution.