Commercial Waste - Your Questions Answered
Waste that comes from businesses and shops is commercial waste. All businesses, large or small, have a duty of care to ensure that their waste is disposed of properly. This duty is imposed by of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and is in place to ensure that any waste your business produces does not cause pollution of the environment.
Any waste that comes from businesses and shops is commercial waste. This includes for example, an office litter bin, delivery boxes from shops or canteen waste. Depending upon the nature of your business, you may also produce industrial or agricultural waste. The Council is under no obligation to collect industrial or agricultural waste.
If you are unsure of what classification your waste will fall under please contact:
- Epping Forest District Council by telephone on 01992 56408
- Environment Agency by telephone on 08708 506506
For more information on your Duty of Care, go to the Environment Agency website - Duty of Care.
As a business you cannot just put waste out for your local district council to collect. The district council’s household refuse and recycling collections are only for domestic waste. Also, businesses are not permitted to dispose of business waste at any of Essex County Council’s Recycling Centres for Household Waste - again these are only for household waste. If you try to dispose of commercial waste via these means you are acting illegally and may be prosecuted.
What this means for you and your business?
If you produce waste from your business you must take all reasonable steps to keep this waste safe. If you give it to someone else you must be sure that they are authorised to take it and can transport it, process and / or dispose of it safely and legally.
The carrier must give you, or you must give the carrier, a Waste Transfer Note indicating the nature of the waste, quantity and how it will be disposed of. If you do not follow these steps then you are breaking the law and you may be liable to prosecution.
When you dispose of waste from your business, you must:
- Keep all waste under your control - you must store it using an appropriate container for the type of waste you produce.
- Check that anyone taking your waste has the necessary authority to do so - they should be a Registered Waste Carrier. Telephone the Environment Agency on 08708 506506 for details of Registered Waste Carriers.
- Ensure that the waste, its quantity and its disposal route are fully described in writing - you or the carrier should complete a Waste Transfer Note which you can get from the Environment Agency website - Duty of Care
- Keep records proving that a licensed waste carrier collected your waste
Epping Forest District Council and the Environment Agency can demand to see Waste Transfer Notes at short notice. If you cannot produce them, even if you had some and they are lost, you will be in breach of your Duty of Care and could be prosecuted. You must keep copies of your transfer notes for a minimum of two years.
The cost of this service
The cost of collecting commercial waste is not included in the business rates you pay. You will need to pay to have your waste collected and disposed of by a licensed waste carrier.
Can I burn waste?
It is recommended that you do not burn any waste, as you are likely to be in breach of the law regarding waste management licensing and the keeping, treating and disposing of waste from your premises. In certain, restricted circumstances, you may be able to register an exemption with the Environment Agency to burn some waste, but you would still be subject to controls to prevent nuisance from smoke and air pollution.
For more information concerning applying for an exemption, go to the gov.uk website.
For more information regarding smoke nuisance and air pollution from bonfires, go to the Environmental Health - Bonfires page.
Remember - it is a criminal offence to:
- Use a waste collector who is not registered with the Environment Agency.
- Transfer commercial waste without a Waste Transfer Note.
- Fail to keep Waste Transfer Notes for at least two years.
- Fail to contain or store your waste to prevent its escape.
Some offences may result in prosecution through Magistrates Court, with fines up to £50,000 or prison sentences of up to 2 years, or in some cases fixed penalty fines may be issued.