Storing and handling oil, chemicals, materials

Spills and spill kits

If you store oil or fuel on site, or if you have a store of chemicals or other materials that could cause pollution in the event of a spill, you should:

  • Have a drainage plan of your site: mark where surface water drains are (they lead straight to rivers or other watercourses) and mark where drains that lead to the public sewers are.
  • Colour code them: Red for foul sewer, blue for surface water.
  • Avoid spills, whether of liquids or powders, by handling materials carefully.
  • Store liquids on impermeable surfaces, on a drip tray, or behind a bund, in a location away from drains.
  • Keep suitable absorbent materials close to your stores – for example there are materials that absorb oils and fuels but not water. Make sure that staff know how to use them.
  • If a spill occurs, make sure that it is contained on site by preventing the escape of liquids and by blocking drains with absorbent pillows if they are at risk.
  • Call the UK wide pollution hotline on 0800 80 70 60


Oil and fuel storage

If you store oil or fuel on your premises you may need to comply with certain regulations controlling its storage. The regulations apply to petrol, diesel, central heating oil, mineral and synthetic oils as well as vegetable and plant oils.

Domestic heating oil: comply with Building regulation controls

Oil storage for a business:

In Northern Ireland: any oil or fuel stored in an above ground container greater than 200 litres is covered by the regulations

In Scotland the regulations apply to all containers.

You will need to make sure that your storage container is in good condition and structurally sound and situated in a safe position where it is unlikely to be damaged. There are also a number of requirements for pipes and fittings and secondary containment. If you intend to store oil on your premises read GPP2: Above ground oil storage tanks



If you package goods for sale or add your own brand to packaging for goods there are certain requirements you must meet.

Your packaging must be designed to use the minimum amount of materials that still ensures safety and hygiene. It also needs to be re-useable, recyclable or have minimum impact on the environment when disposed of.

Read our guidance on packaging if you intend to produce packaged goods.



Most businesses and organisations will use electrical and electronic equipment. When this equipment comes to the end of its useful life it becomes waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

The producer of the equipment is usually responsible for the cost of treatment and recycling. The producer of the EEE will be a member of a compliance scheme which will be responsible for the WEEE. They can tell you about the take-back system available to you.

Read our NetRegs guidance on waste electrical and electronic equipment.


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