Duty of Care Regulations 1991

UK businesses produce over 75million tonnes per annum of commercial and industrial waste, and as a waste producer you have certain obligations under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to ensure it is properly controlled and managed.

The Duty of Care Regulations 1991 place a duty upon producers, importers, carriers and disposers of controlled waste to:

  • Prevent unauthorised disposal of waste.
  • Prevent the escape of waste.
  • Provide a written waste transfer note.
  • Provide an accurate written description including the six digit European Waste Catalogue (EWC) code.

Authorised persons for the purposes of the Duty of Care are:

  • Registered waste carriers or those entitled to exemption under Registration of Carriers and Seizure of Vehicle Regulations 1991.
  • Holders of a permit, waste management licence or waste management licence exemption.
  • The waste producer (when transferring their own waste - except construction or demolition waste).

A waste transfer note must be passed between each holder of the waste; this may also include the written waste description, and can be valid for up to one year for regular waste transfers. The transfer note must be kept for a minimum of two years after the transfer and contain the following information:

  • The identity of the waste and the EWC code.
  • The quantity of waste and how the waste is contained.
  • Names, addresses and signatures of the transferor and transferee.
  • Place and date of transfer.

The written description of the waste should be sufficient for the next holder to deal with the waste without breaching the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, namely Section 33 - that deals with unlawful deposit of waste.

European Landfill Directive

From 30th October 2007, under new European-wide legislation, all non-hazardous waste has to be treated before it can be landfilled and the Environment Agency has placed the responsibility for compliance on waste producers.

These regulations are the final stages of the European Landfill Directive and are being implemented to reduce our reliance on landfill as a disposal option and to ensure that landfill has less impact on the environment.

The new regulations define treatment as:

Physical, thermal, chemical or biological processes (including sorting) that change the characteristics of waste in order to reduce its volume or hazardous nature, facilitate its handling or enhance recovery.

In effect, the 'process' of treatment may be as simple as sorting out recyclables – such as paper, plastics, metal or glass.

As a waste producer you will need to decide whether to 'pre-treat' your waste at source or to have it treated by your waste management company. If you are already pre-treating waste then the new legislation will not impact on you. No further measures need to be taken.

If you choose to treat your waste at source, to fulfil your obligations under these regulations you will need to satisfy your waste management company and/or landfill operator that:

  1. All of the waste has been pre-treated.
  2. The treatment has changed the characteristics of the waste to:
    • Reduce the waste's volume.
    • Reduce its hazardous nature.
    • Make waste handling easier.
    • Enhance its recovery potential.

This evidence will form an important part of your Duty of Care documentation. Failure to comply may result in enforcement action, including prosecution by the Environment Agency.

Under the new legislation, landfill operators must ensure that waste has been treated and they have a duty to reject any material if this is not proven. If in doubt the landfill operator will presume the waste has not been treated.

You may consider it appropriate to segregate your waste at source and this is certainly the route we encourage. We will arrange convenient, separate collections and bring the materials to our materials recycling facility for processing.