Duty of Care for Waste

If you run a business or operate any other activity then the Duty of Care applies to you. You have the responsibility to ensure that you produce, store, transport and dispose of your waste without harming the environment.

You must:

  • segregate, store and transport your waste appropriately and securely, making sure that you do not cause any pollution or harm to human health. Plan where and how you will deal with waste in your organisation.
  • check that your waste is transported and handled only by people or businesses that are authorised to do so
  • complete waste transfer notes and keep them as a record for at least two years, or arrange for a “season ticket” for regular collections of the same type of waste from your premises.

In Northern Ireland and Scotland you have a duty to present glass, metal, plastic, paper, and card (including cardboard) for separate collection. Speak to whoever collects your waste and find out how they organise this.

If you are a food business, i.e. you carry out activities related to processing, distribution, preparation or sale of food, and you produce more than 5kg of food waste per week (about one kitchen caddy full) then you must present food waste for separate collection.

In Scotland if you operate in a Rural Area, as defined by the Scottish Government, you do not have to present food waste for separate collection.

Northern Ireland:


READ THE NETREGS GUIDANCENetRegs: Duty of Care - your waste responsibilities

Waste minimisation

You should try and minimise the waste generated by your activities. It can be very useful to measure the types of waste you produce by carrying out a waste audit.

This will allow you to identify where waste is coming from in your organisation, and then you can take steps to reduce these waste streams. As well as paying for waste disposal, you are usually paying for the materials that you are disposing of. Reducing waste at source can cut your operational costs.

You can get help to reduce waste, including food waste, construction waste and general waste: In Scotland from Resource Efficient Scotland and In Northern Ireland from WRAPNI.

READ THE NETREGS GUIDANCE: Reduce, reuse recycle your business waste

Managing hazardous/special waste

All businesses and projects will produce some waste with hazardous properties. In Scotland this is known as special waste, in Northern Ireland as hazardous waste.

Examples include:

  • Low energy bulbs/fluorescent tubes
  • Brake fluid
  • Certain types of battery
  • Used oils
  • Solvents
  • Pesticides

You must keep waste with hazardous properties separate from other waste, and usually separate from other types of hazardous/special waste. You can store a certain amount of hazardous/special waste on your site for a maximum of 12 months before it is removed. You must also:

  • ensure that it is stored safely and securely to prevent pollution.
  • ensure that it is packaged and labelled correctly
  • keep liquid hazardous/special waste in a dedicated area, with a bund or barrier to contain spills and leaks

Keep a list of all the types of hazardous/special waste you store on site.

When you want to have it removed, make sure all hazardous/special waste is:

  • transported by a registered or exempt waste carrier
  • accompanied by a consignment note
  • sent to a waste facility that holds a suitable pollution prevention and control permit, waste management licence or a registered exemption that authorises them to take that type of waste.
  • SEPA: Special waste
  • DAERA: Hazardous waste

READ THE NETREGS GUIDANCE: NetRegs: Hazardous/special waste

Return to the menu of the First steps - guidance for new starts, projects and charities environmental topic