Are you aware that any business that produces, handles or disposes of controlled waste has a statutory obligation to ensure it is managed correctly under the Duty of Care Code of Practice. ‘Controlled waste’ is effectively all waste that arises from business premises. This includes waste that is collected for recycling as well as waste that is disposed of to landfill or incineration.

What is required?

The Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 replaced the Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991 and apply the Duty of Care requirements brought in by the Environmental Protection Act 1990. They require that:

  • Waste is stored correctly i.e. it must be properly contained
  • It is only collected by registered waste carriers (unless being moved by the waste producer’s own vehicles)
  • All collections are covered by a valid Transfer note that includes a written description of the waste to enable anyone handling it to do so safely and appropriately
  • Records of transfers of waste are kept for at least two years
  • Waste is only taken to an authorised facility that has the necessary waste management licensing - ignorance of the disposal site is no defense if your waste is found fly tipped.

Defra revised the Code of Practice in March 2016 to a much smaller document. The previous Code of Practice is no longer in force but gives a more complete explanation of some issues which are not clearly explained in the new document.

Scotland has published a Duty of Care Code of Practice which clearly states the expectations for separate collections of recyclables and is a much more comprehensive document than the England and Wales Code of Practice.

The NIEA has revised Guidance introduced in 2012, which is also much more comprehensive.

Waste Transfer notes

Every transfer of waste between two parties must be covered by the appropriate documentation. For non-hazardous waste, this is generally a Waste Transfer Note (WTN) and for hazardous waste, a Consignment Note.

Waste transfer documents are a legal requirement that must contain certain information including a signature from both parties between whom the waste is being transferred. From 28th September 2011, a transfer note must conform to the new requirements laid down by the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011. The EA provides a downloadable template, but this does not have to be used. Any form can be used so long as it contains the relevant legal information.

The Waste Regulations (England and Wales) 2014 permits the use of alternative documentation to the Waste Transfer Note such as invoices or even email. But the legal requirements for what must be included remain the same.

It must include the following:

  • A brief written description of the waste being transferred.
  • The correct EWC code for the waste.
  • An indication of how the waste is contained. Eg. Is it loose, in a sack, skip or drum?
  • A SIC 2007 code.
  • A tick box to state that the waste hierarchy has been considered.
  • Identify the amount of waste being passed on, for example the number of sacks or other containers, the volume of waste or its weight.
  • List your name and identify that you are the producer of the waste.
  • List the name of the person you are passing the waste to and their status, for example a registered waste carrier, including their registration number.
  • Give the address where you passed the waste to the other person as well as the date and time that you gave him the waste.
  • Be signed by both parties and be kept for at least two years.

For repeated transfers, where the description of the waste and all the circumstances remain the same, a ‘season ticket’ can be used to cover all transfers i.e. one note which can last up to 12 months.

It is illegal to collect - or have collected - commercial or industrial non-hazardous waste without a valid WTN in place. Normally, the waste collection company would generate the transfer note, but it is the transferor’s legal responsibility to ensure that the EWC code is correct.

The WTN should include both a brief written description and a European Waste Catalogue (EWC) code, often known as the List of Wastes (LOW) code. This description and code are extremely important:

  • They ensure that the person to whom the waste is being transferred understands the handling requirements.
  • The EWC code determines whether a site can receive the waste as all sites operating under an Environmental Permit or an Exemption are restricted to certain EWC codes.

The WTN now requires the following declaration:

"By signing in Section D below I confirm that I have fulfilled my duty to apply the waste hierarchy as required by Regulation 12 of the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011"

This requirement applies to the transferor who must therefore now ensure that they dispose of their waste as high up the hierarchy as possible. This prioritises prevention first and landfill disposal last. In practice, the expectation is that a business should at least be recycling where possible.

Further information can be found on the EA website.

Electronic Duty of Care (edoc)

The EA launched a new paperless Waste Transfer Note system called edoc at the end of January 2014. This allows parties to the WTN to complete and record them online saving time and useless bits of paper.