Duty Of Care
Duty of Care – Section 34 of the EPA90 Act imposes a
duty of care on those concerned with the controlled waste. This applies
to those who produce, import, carry, treat or dispose of controlled
waste. The legal definition of waste is 'any substance or object
which the producer or the person in possession of it discards or intends or
is required to discard'. Waste is therefore anything you own, or your
business produces, which you want to get rid of. It can be household,
commercial or industrial waste. Certain wastes are not included
within the definition; these are agricultural wastes, wastes from mines and
quarries and certain radioactive wastes.
regulations cover the disposal, carrying or receiving of special
wastes. Guidance is available on what constitutes a special waste but
in general it covers hazardous and toxic wastes, for example acids,
industrial solvents, pharmaceutical compounds, waste oils and wood
Do They Apply to You?
Duty of Care – Duty of Care provisions apply to all
manufacturing and processing companies. Duty of Care means that a
company producing waste is responsible for its proper and safe disposal,
even after it has been passed to another party, in other words you are
responsible for your waste from Cradle to Grave. Breach of the
duty of care is an offence, with a penalty and unlimited fine if convicted.
In a recent survey of local SMEs, many indicated that they did not monitor the
quantity or composition of any of their waste streams and did not know what
happened to their waste once it is removed by the contractors. This
indicates that many companies are not aware of their responsibilities under
the Duty of Care provisions and risk falling foul of the legislation.
The environment Agency pursue
offences and advise on legal and environmentally sound management of
waste. If, for example, waste is being burnt on your premises, then
you could be deemed to be mishandling waste and causing an offence.
In addition the smoke produced could mean that you are contravening the Clean Air Act 1993.
Special Waste – If you use chemicals or products
which have hazard symbols or safety data sheets, it is very likely that you
fall within the controls of these regulations. Examples of the
hazardous properties of
special waste include explosive, oxidising, flammable,
carcinogenic, toxic, infectious and corrosive.
What do You Need to
Duty of Care – As a waste producer, you have the
responsibility to ensure that it is managed properly and recovered or
disposed of safely. To help do this, the Department of
the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have
issued a code of practice. It is advisable to obtain a copy of the
code if you are in any doubt as to your obligations. The Duty of Care
First, it is important that you have a
description of your waste. This need only be in general terms but must be
enough to allow safe handling.
Two, it is vital that you handle and
store your waste properly to avoid polluting the environment.
Three, when transferring a waste, a
transfer note is needed. This is a requirement of the Environmental
Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991. This note should state
the quantity of waste transferred (e.g. weight), how it has been packed
and, if relevant, the type of container it has been placed in. The
transfer note should also mention any special problems relating to the
waste to avoid miss-management. It is your duty to keep a copy of the
transfer note for a minimum period of 5 years.
Four, Waste may be only handed on to
persons authorised to handle it. It is the duty of the waste producer
to check that the person receiving the waste is authorised.
Waste carries are registered with the Environment Agency and should have a
certificate of registration. Ask for and keep a copy of their licence
and contact the Environment Agency to check if the license is still valid.
Five, your duty of care does not end here, you have to
check what happens to your waste once it has been collected. Enquire
from the contractor as to the destination of waste, what will it go through
and where will it be disposed of and visit the disposal site to satisfy
yourself and the regulator of the safe disposal of your waste.
Special Waste – The Duty of Care also applies to
special waste but additional measures are necessary. The first action
you should take is to obtain relevant information sheets and guidance on
the particular waste you are handling. It is up to you to decide
whether you fall within the regulations. Those who fall within these
controls have to follow a set of procedures. These include
pre-notifying the authorities
(the EA) before the special waste is moved, which is done by
filling in a consignment note. A full description of the waste should
also be available. A fee will be charged in relation to most
consignments. If you do not comply with the regulations, you could
suffer a fine of up to £5,000 and/or two years in prison.
How Can We Help?
Duty of Care – The main source of advice is the Environment
Agency in your region. The code of practice referred to above,
'Waste Management The Duty of Care, A Code of Practice', can be obtained
from the HMSO Publications Centre whose details can be found on the
Environment Agency's web site. It is important to realise that
compliance with Duty of Care provisions is closely linked to knowing what
wastes are provided, how much is produced and how it is disposed of.
Depending on the size of the company and the processes carried out this
information is not too difficult to gather. It is advisable to carry
out a waste/environmental audit to collect information and identify
possible waste minimisation opportunities. This in turn could reduce
waste streams, thereby reducing disposal costs.
If you are interested in
a waste assessment exercise or an environmental review, we will be glad to
help you. This service is free of charge to eligible companies.
To find out, just fill in the response form and we will get in touch with
you as soon as we can. Alternatively, write or contact us.
Special Waste - These regulations are also enforced
by the Environment Agency which will be able to provide guidance and