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Duty of Care 

You are responsible for any waste you produce, transport or process and have a duty of care to ensure that waste in your possession causes no harm. 

Duty of care legislation provides protection for the environment and human health from waste materials.

There is a code of practice you should follow issued under section 34(7) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in relation to the duty of care set out in Section 34(1) of that Act.

This code of practice applies to you if you produce, import, transport, store, treat, dispose of or, as a dealer or broker, have control of, certain waste in England or Wales.

Failure to comply with the duty of care is an offence with no upper limit on the courts’ power to fine.

If your waste activities are authorised or registered in Scotland or Northern Ireland but you deal with waste in England or Wales, you need to follow the England and Wales code of practice. If you operate across borders, you need to follow Scotland’s and Northern Ireland’s codes of practice alongside the England and Wales one.

The duty of care applies to a waste holder, that is anyone who produces, imports, transports, stores processes, treats or disposes of controlled waste. It also applies to brokers or dealers that has control over the controlled waste.

Waste holders are a: 

waste producer – any person whose activities produce waste. This includes private sector businesses such as shops, offices, factories and tradespersons (e.g. electricians, builders, glaziers and plumbers) and public sector services such as schools, hospitals and prisons, as well as charities and voluntary and community groups. It also includes permitted operations or exempt facilities that produce waste as part of their activities. If you carry out a waste operation that changes the nature or composition of the waste, you are regarded as a producer of the waste. Waste producers play a key role under the duty of care requirements as they are in the best position to identify the nature and characteristics of the waste

waste carrier – any person, who normally and regularly collects, carries or transports waste in the course of any business or with a view to profit, including those that produce and transport their own waste e.g. builders and landscape gardeners

waste dealer – any person, business or organisation that buys waste with the aim of subsequently selling it, including in circumstances where the dealer does not take physical possession of the waste

waste broker – any person, business or organisation that arranges waste transportation and management of waste on behalf of another party, such as organisations contracting out waste collection services e.g. local authorities, supermarkets and producer responsibility compliance schemes

waste manager – any person involved in the collection, transport, recovery or disposal of controlled waste, including the supervision of these operations, the after-care of disposal sites and actions taken as a dealer or broker

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