Environmental regulations and your responsibilities
Commercial waste: Legal requirements
Businesses are fully responsible for ensuring that they manage their waste responsibly and comply with the law.
Find out about Wandsworth's local time-banding regulations that restrict when and how businesses can present waste awaiting collection on the pavement in town centres and on main roads.
Every establishment or business that produces waste has the responsibility to manage it properly. Right Waste, Right Place will help you comply with the law.
National legal requirements
The Waste Duty of Care
The Waste Duty of Care is designed to ensure the safe management of waste in order to protect human health and the environment. It applies to you if you import, produce, carry, keep, treat, control or dispose of controlled waste (including household, industrial and commercial waste).
The Waste Hierarchy ranks waste management options in order of their likely environmental impacts, with waste prevention at the top followed by re-use, recycling, other (e.g. energy) recovery and lastly disposal (e.g. landfill). Businesses must manage their waste up this hierarchy unless not doing so produces better environmental outcomes.
Get detailed Guidance on applying the Waste Hierarchy.
Environmental Permits and exemptions
Businesses may need a permit to store, treat or dispose of waste. Check whether your business needs an environmental permit or registered exemption.
Sorting and storing waste
Businesses must store their waste safely and securely. They must also keep hazardous waste separate from non-hazardous waste and must not mix different types of hazardous waste or waste oils. Businesses that collect waste must provide separate collections for paper, glass, metals and plastics if practicable and necessary to achieve high quality recycling.
Get more information on sorting and storing commercial waste.
Disposing of waste
Businesses that dispose of waste in landfill must ensure that it has been pre-treated, for example by extracting recyclable materials from it. Get detailed guidance from the Environment Agency.
Electrical waste: Businesses that distribute electrical goods must provide a way for their customers to dispose of old household electrical and electronic equipment when they sell them a new version of the same item. Find out more about retailer and distributer responsibilities for electrical waste.
Waste batteries: Businesses that sell over 32kg of portable batteries a year must provide a take-back service to the public free of charge. Find out more about producer responsibility for waste batteries.
Packaging waste: Businesses with a turnover of more than £2m a year which handle over 50 tonnes of packaging a year must recover and recycle minimum quantities of packaging waste. They can do this directly or join a compliance scheme to discharge the responsibility on their behalf. Get further details from the Environment Agency.
Fridges and freezers: Businesses must only use Environment Agency-approved disposal facilities which remove all ozone-depleting substances that may be present in the cooling system or insulating foam. Get more information about disposing of commercial waste.
Gypsum and plasterboard: This must be kept separate from other wastes when sent for disposal. If disposed of in landfill, the site must be permitted to accept it.
End of Life Vehicles: If your business stores or treats End of Life Vehicles (ELVs) it must meet minimum technical standards.
Waste Tyres: It is illegal to dispose of tyres to landfill, regardless of whether they are whole or shredded.
Construction projects and site waste management plans (SWMPs)
SWMPs are no longer a legal requirement for construction projects worth over £300,000, but having one will help to ensure that any construction waste is managed effectively and efficiently. Get more information from BRE Smartwaste.
If you need further information or advice about national requirements for managing your commercial waste, contact the Environment Agency:
Telephone: 03708 506 506
Minicom: 03702 422 549
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm