ARCHIVE: Waste controls and permits duty of care

April 2009: A revised code of practice to the Duty of Care is currently being consulted on. This was produced in conjunction with the Welsh Assembly Government, Environment Agency, Chartered Institute of Wastes Management, Environmental Services Association, Local Government Association and EEF.

The consultation was launched on 30 April and will run for 12 weeks. The documents can be found at the following link: www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/waste-dutyofcare/index.htm

January 2009 – The duty of care and waste carrier/broker registration regimes are currently being reviewed.

See ‘What is the waste controls review?’ below.

  1. Key messages
  2. What is the duty of care?
  3. What are the penalties under the duty of care?
  4. What information are businesses required to keep?
  5. What is the household duty of care?
  6. What are considered to be "reasonable measures" to comply with the duty of care?
  7. What are the penalties for non compliance with the household duty of care?
  8. How do I get rid of my bulky waste?
  9. Who is allowed to carry waste?
  10. How do I know if a waste carrier is registered or not?
  11. How can waste carriers register?
  12. What are the penalties for not registering as a waste carrier?
  13. How is the waste carrier regime enforced?
  14. What is the waste controls review?
  15. Why are the controls on waste being reviewed?
  16. How will the review help businesses and enforcers?
  17. What is the objective of the review?

See also our duty of care summary leaflet and code of practice

1. Key messages

The Government wants to ensure that producers of waste take responsibility for ensuring their waste is managed without harm to human health or to the environment.

An effective duty of care and waste carrier/broker regime (waste controls) can help to ensure waste is dealt with properly leading to a reduction in waste crime and fly-tipping.

The household duty of care regulations are not there to "scare people". The regulations are an extra weapon in the armoury to eliminate fly-tipping. They are all about householders working with their council to combat the blight of fly-tipping and make sure rubbish is dealt with properly and responsibly.

Every year councils spend millions of pounds clearing up household rubbish that is dumped by people posing as legitimate waste carriers.

Councils are not intending to go around fining people – the idea is to encourage them to think carefully about who they give their waste to, and not to simply choose the cheapest option.

If we cut out the waste available to the fly-tippers, we cut out their business.

Do not forget that all household waste can be disposed of at your local tip free of charge. Many local authorities will come and pick up bulkier waste (free or for a small charge).

2. What is the duty of care?

The Duty of Care is set out in section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and associated regulations. It applies to anyone who is the holder of controlled waste.

Persons concerned with controlled waste must ensure that the waste is managed properly, recovered or disposed of safely, does not cause harm to human health or pollution of the environment and is only transferred to someone who is authorised to receive it. The duty applies to any person who produces, imports, carries, keeps, treats or disposes of controlled waste or as a broker has control of such waste.

3. What are the penalties under the duty of care?

Breach of the Duty of Care is an offence, with a penalty of up to £5000 on summary conviction or an unlimited fine on conviction on indictment.

4. What information are businesses required to keep?

Under the Duty of Care Regulations 1991 (the 1991 Regulations), parties transferring waste are required to complete and retain a 'transfer note', containing a written description of that waste. Defra has provided statutory guidance on the completion of the duty of care transfer note in Waste management, the duty of care: a code of practice.

The 1991 Regulations now require waste to be described on the transfer note by reference to the European Waste Catalogue (EWC) and its appropriate code number. These amendments to the 1991 regulations were brought in to meet the landfill Directive’s requirements on monitoring the acceptance and treatment of waste, and will also help to fulfill the UK’s obligation to implement the EWC.

5. What is the household duty of care?

The Waste (Household Waste) Duty of Care (England & Wales) Regulations 2005 introduced a new duty on householders on 21 November 2005. Under this duty, householders are required to take reasonable measures to ensure that household waste produced on their property is passed on to an authorised person. There is not a requirement for the householder to complete and retain a written description of the waste (the ‘transfer note).

This should lead to better waste management and help to reduce illegal waste activity such as fly-tipping.

6. What are considered to be "reasonable measures" to comply with the duty of care?

It will be up to the courts to decide what constitutes reasonable measures, although householders are encouraged to make a simple check with the Environment Agency in order to ascertain if the person that they are passing their waste to is a registered waste carrier.

7. What are the penalties for non-compliance with the household duty of care?

If fly-tipped waste is traced back to a particular household, the householders could be fined up to £5000.

However, the ultimate aim is not to fine people, but to ensure that they use registered waste carriers.

8. How do I get rid of my bulky waste?

Many councils offer a collection service (free or for a small charge) to come and collect your bulkier waste.

Otherwise, householders are encouraged to use a registered waste carrier, which can find through the Environment Agency hotline or website as above.

9. Who is allowed to carry waste?

The Waste Framework Directive requires that establishments and undertakings who collect or transport waste on a professional basis or which arrange for the disposal or recovery of waste (dealers or brokers) to be registered. This is implemented in domestic legislation by the Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989. Persons who carry waste as part of their business are required to be registered with the Environment Agency.

Persons authorised to carry waste for the purposes of the duty of care also include:

  • a waste collection authority
  • any person who is the holder of a waste management licence
  • any person that section 33(1) EPA 1990 doesn’t apply to by virtue of the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 issued under section 33(3)
  • any person who is not required to be registered as a waste carrier
  • a waste disposal authority in Scotland
10. How do I know if a carrier is registered or not?

Anyone removing waste from your household should be licensed with the Environment Agency to do so.

This can be checked with the EA by phoning 08708 506506 and requesting an instant Waste Carrier Validation Check.

Alternatively you can now check online through the EA’s new waste carrier register on the Environment Agency's website. Registered waste carriers can be located by postcode on the website.

11. How can waste carriers register?

Waste carriers must be registered with the Environment Agency. At present this registration costs £149 for three years initial registration and £99 for renewal thereafter.

12. What are the penalties for not registering as a waste carrier?

Carrying waste without a relevant authorisation is an offence. Those found guilty on summary conviction are subject to a fine not exceeding £5000 (level 5 on the standard scale). Transferring waste to an unregistered company or person is also an offence. Those found guilty on summary conviction are also subject to a fine up to £5000 (level 5 on the standard scale).

13. How is the waste carrier regime enforced?

The Environment Agency is responsible for registering waste carriers. However, local authorities and the Environment Agency have powers to check waste carriers and request production of relevant documentation.

Under powers in the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 authorities can issue fixed penalty notices for failure to produce carriers registration documentation.

14. What is the waste controls review?

The duty of care and waste carrier registration systems are currently being reviewed. A first consultation exercise closed on 6 March 2007 and a summary of responses was published in June 2007:

Consultation documents

  • The Duty of Care (PDF, 130 KB)
  • The Registration of Waste Carriers (PDF, 200 KB)
  • The Registration and control of Waste Brokers (PDF, 120 KB)
  • Summary of Responses (PDF, 160 KB)

These responses informed a second consultation which was launched on 13 June 2008 and ended on 17 September 2008. This second consultation included new draft regulations and an impact assessment of the costs and benefits to government and business.

Following the results of this consultation, it is planned that new regulations will come into force in October 2009.

15. Why are the controls on waste being reviewed?

The review has been set up in response to suggestions by key industry stakeholders that the system is not working effectively for them and from the Regulator that the regime is not effectively delivering the policy objectives of ensuring waste is safely and legally transferred.

The review will result in the update of the duty of care and waste carrier regimes, including existing regulations & related guidance with a view to simplifying the regulation to the end user. Development of policy with key stakeholders and broader consultation will culminate in a set of consolidated amendment Regulations.

16. How will the review help businesses and enforcers?

The Government intends to reduce admin burdens and improve consistency between enforcement bodies. The review should also modernise the regulation in accordance with better regulation principles, introducing a risk based approach, applying an appropriate level of regulation at appropriate levels within the system..

17. What is the objective of the review?

This work should make a significant contribution to preventing illegal waste activities and make savings for regulators by promoting compliance amongst waste producers. It should enable the regulators to use the duty of care and waste carrier regimes as a useful tool in the investigation of other environmental crime, e.g. illegal waste activities, or fly tipping.

Summary leaflet and code of practice

NB The Environment Agency Enquiry Line phone number given on page 3 of the above leaflet is now incorrect. The correct phone number is 08708 506 506.

  • Waste management, a duty of care: code of practice (PDF 240 KB)
    Practical guidance for everyone who is under the duty is in "Waste Management, The Duty of Care, A Code of Practice", ISBN 0-11-753210-X, published by HMSO in March 1996. For further details, contact HMSO bookshops or telephone 0870 600 5522.

Page last modified: 4 August 2009
Page published: 5 February 2003