Business and commercial waste
You must deal responsibly with any waste your business produces in England. This is known as your ‘duty of care’.
Business waste includes any waste that comes from:
- any commercial activity – including any you run from your home
How long your duty of care lasts
Your duty of care lasts from the moment you produce the waste until you give it to a licensed waste business to deal with.
You’re still responsible to check how that business deals with your waste if you suspect it’s not following the duty of care.
You should report if another business mishandles your waste.
- classify your waste and know if it’s hazardous or non-hazardous so you can deal with it correctly
- register your premises if you produce or store hazardous waste
- usually get a permit to store, treat, transport or dispose of your waste yourself
- store your waste safely and securely
- follow the rules for moving waste off your business premises
- check that any business you use to deal with your waste is licensed, and keep proof of this – eg take a copy of their licence
You have extra responsibilities if you’re dealing with hazardous waste.
There’s more information about the Duty of Care.
You must consider all other options before you dispose of waste.
Consider these 5 steps in order. They’re known as the ‘waste hierarchy’.
- Prevent – eg use fewer and less hazardous materials, and use things for longer.
- Recover – eg anaerobic digestion or incineration for energy recovery.
- Dispose – eg landfill and incineration without energy recovery.
Use the waste hierarchy tool to help your business take these steps.
Usually you need a permit to store, treat or dispose of waste.
You can check if you need to get an environmental permit or registered exemption in England.
Register as a hazardous waste producer
You must register your business premises in England if you produce or store hazardous waste.
You don’t need to register if you produce less than 500kg of waste in any 12 months.
You must sort and keep separate:
- hazardous waste and non-hazardous waste
- different types of hazardous waste
- different types of waste oil
Store your waste
You must store waste safely and securely. To do this:
- store waste in a secure place
- use suitable containers that will stop waste escaping
- label containers clearly with the type of waste they contain
- use covers to stop waste blowing away
- use waterproof covers if rain could cause contaminated run-off or prevent the waste from being reused
- keep liquid hazardous waste in a dedicated area, with a bund or barrier to to stop liquid leaking, eg into a drain
You have extra responsibilities if you’re storing hazardous waste – you must:
- display written instructions for storing and disposing of it
- keep records about it and where it’s located
- carry out a risk assessment, eg to identify what the risks are and how to control them
- regularly check for leaks, deteriorating containers or other potential risks
You may need an environmental permit to store your own or other people’s waste. The permit will confirm any extra rules for storing waste on your site.
There are extra responsibilities for certain types of waste – read thetechnical guidance on waste for more advice about separating and mixing hazardous waste during production, storage, transport, recovery and disposal.
There are rules on how to move waste off your business premises.
- use a licensed waste business to collect, recycle, recover or dispose of your waste in England
- get a licence to transport your own waste in England
- keep to the restrictions if you move waste between countries
You have extra responsibilities depending on whether you’re moving:
Move waste between countries
You can usually only import or export waste to recover it. You won’t usually be able to import or export waste for disposal, eg landfill.
Read the guide on waste imports and exports.
You have different responsibilities depending on whether you’re disposing of:
You have extra responsibilities when you’re dealing with electrical waste if you’re a distributor.
Gypsum and plasterboard
You must keep gypsum and plasterboard separate from other wastes when you send it for disposal. It must not go to landfill mixed with biodegradable waste.
You can only send gypsum and plasterboard to a landfill site with a permit to accept it.
You can contact the environment organisation in your region if you have questions about disposal or other types of waste.