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Duty of CareWaste 


General Duty of Care (EPA 1990)

Everyone who produces, imports, keeps, stores, transports, treats or disposes of waste must take all reasonable steps to ensure that waste is managed properly. This duty of care is provided under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA). It also applies to anyone who acts as a broker and has control of waste. A breach of the duty of care could lead to a penalty of up to £5,000 if convicted in the Magistrates Court or an unlimited fine if convicted in the Crown Court.

Household Duty of Care

Householders must ensure that household waste is properly disposed of. Household waste is defined in section 75(5) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and includes waste from domestic properties, caravans and residential homes. The householder duty of care is provided by Section 34(2A) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (inserted by the Household Waste Duty of Care Regulations 2005). A breach of the household duty of care would also attract penalties up to £5,000 on conviction in the Magistrates Court or an unlimited fine if convicted in the Crown Court.

Steps to take to fulfil the duty of care


General Duty of Care

If you have waste:

  • Ensure that the person who takes control of your waste is licensed to do so.
  • You must take steps to prevent it from escaping from your control.
  • Store it safely and securely
  • Prevent it from causing environmental pollution or harming anyone
  • Describe the waste in writing and prepare a transfer note if you intend to pass the waste on to someone else.

If you collect waste from others:

  • You must be authorised under the law to collect and receive waste
  • Get a description of the collected waste in writing.
  • Complete and retain a transfer note

Household Duty of Care

If you are a householder, you are required to take reasonable steps to check that people removing waste from your premises are authorised to do so.

Reasonable steps to take:

  • Ask the waste carrier to provide you with their full address and telephone number
  • Ask to see their waste carrier licence issued by the Environment Agency
  • Contact the Environment Agency directly on 08708 506 506 and ask for a free instant Waste Carrier Validation Check, alternatively you can check online on the Environment Agency website.

Legislation

Environmental Protection Act 1990

Waste (Household Waste) Duty of Care (England & Wales) Regulations 2005

The Waste (Household Waste Duty of Care) (Wales) Regulations 2006

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005

 

 

Waste Offences


The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) and other relevant UK laws (see our Law Search page) regulate how waste should be managed. These laws establish a number of waste offences, punishable by a fine or prison term. 

EPA 1990 offences

Under S.33 of the EPA 1990 (amended in 1995), it is an offence to: 

  • Deposit or knowingly cause or knowingly permit to be deposited (controlled) waste in or on land unless in accordance with the terms of a waste management licence
  • Treat, keep or dispose of controlled waste in land or by means of any mobile plant unless in accordance with the terms of a waste management licence
  • Treat, keep or dispose of controlled waste that could cause environmental pollution or harm human health. (This offence applies even in situations where a waste management licence is not required.)

If convicted in the Magistrates court, the maximum punishment for these offences is 12 months imprisonment and /or a fine of £50,000. In the Crown court, it could run to a 5 year jail term or an unlimited fine.

Please note that the above offences relate more to businesses (particularly those involved in waste management) than to domestic households.


Fly tipping

Householders do not require a licence for their waste. However, it is an offence for householders to dispose of waste in a way that is harmful to the environment or human health. The legislation is primarily targeted at fly-tipping and other illegal waste transfer that cost local authorities millions of pounds to clear up.

Local councils now have more powers to penalise illegal fly tipping. Fixed penalty notices can be issued or a person can be prosecuted for an offence, and face imprisonment and/or a fine.

Early waste disposal

Under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, local authorities have the powers to issue fixed penalties on households who fail to put out their rubbish at the proper time for collection. Some local authorities treat waste put out at the wrong time as fly-tipping.

To avoid fixed penalty fines of up to £100, please check your waste collection dates. (Contact your local authority for more information.) See also the section on litter.

Please Note: This section provides an overview of waste offences and cannot be relied on as legal advice. If you are in doubt as to whether you are acting within the law, please seek legal advice. If you suspect someone has committed a waste offence such as fly tipping, call the Environment Agency (England and Wales) of SEPA (Scotland).


Legislation

Environmental Protection Act 1990

EPA 1990 section 33

The Waste (Household Waste Duty of Care) (England and Wales) Regulations 2005

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005

 

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