Most people know that it's important to only use skip hire or waste management firms that have all of the relevant documents to prove they are carrying (and disposing) of your waste legally. Most of us wouldn't be best pleased with a company fly-tipping on our behalf, but other than a guilty conscience there are genuine legal implications for you if your waste is found somewhere it shouldn't be.
A waste carriers licence indicates that a business or an individual is registered to legally carry and dispose of rubbish. It's a document that's licenced by the Environment Agency and every waste disposal company must have one. It must be renewed at least every three years and it's the bare minimum that a company needs to legally make money from waste collection. But what are the actual implications for you if your waste is passed on to an illegal waste carrier?
Let's talk a bit about the duty of care for both individuals and businesses in the UK currently.
Waste disposal for businesses
When it comes to business waste, you have a legal duty to make sure everything is above board when it comes to its storage and disposal. As well as checking that you're using a licenced waste carrier, you must ensure the safe storage of the waste before it's collected Landfill waste and recyclable items also must be separated. Once the collection happens you should get a waste transfer note that details a full description of what's being collected and transferred.
Does your company produce waste that could be classed as hazardous? If so, you must be a registered hazardous waste producer and ensure that you get a consignment note at the point of transfer. If you're unsure what constitutes hazardous waste, check out the government guidelines.
Undertaking these steps may prevent you from being liable for any legal action regarding what happens to your waste.
Domestic waste : your rubbish, your responsibility
That's business owners covered, but what about the average person having some house renovations or clearing out a relative's home? Are they subject to the same rules and regulations? Well, not quite, but there are still some things to be aware of.
For most domestic jobs, a skip will be most the most suitable solution for getting rid of your waste. But did you know you are ultimately responsible for where your rubbish ends up? You must ensure that whoever is collecting the waste is a registered waste carrier. Without this certification, your rubbish could end up being illegally dumped or left at an unauthorised site.
Additionally and more worryingly, you could be liable for it. If the rubbish is traced back to you or your business you could face fines that run into the thousands. This is why it's crucial for everyone to gain an understanding of the importance of waste carriers licences and the price you might pay for hiring someone without one.
It's not just skip hire or waste management specialists who need to be registered waste carriers. Any business that carries waste professionally must also become licenced. This includes those that carry waste as a matter of course in their day to day trading, such as gardeners, carpenters, glaziers, plumbers and electricians.
So it's always worth checking if your skip company or man in a van hire service is fully licenced. Any reputable waste management company will be more than happy to put your mind at rest. Alternatively you can easily do a bit of online research yourself if you have any doubts. Simply search for the business name here or contact the Environment Agency on 03708 506506 and ask for a waste carrier validation check.
* Please note that all advice contained in this article is for general informational purposes only, it is not recommended as a comprehensive guide to your legal responsibilities as a waste producer. Please consult with the Environment Agency or your local council body in the first instance for up-to-date guidance