What is the ‘duty of care’?

Duty of care requirements set out what waste producers must do to protect the environment from as much harm as possible. They apply across the UK, although there are some slight regional differences in what needs to be done created by the way the devolved administrations have chosen to implement the laws.

If you produce, store, move, treat or dispose of waste as part of your business, you must comply with the duty of care requirements.

What are the requirements?

Broadly speaking, you must:

  • Know what type of waste you have control of. Is is hazardous or non-hazardous?
  • Know how to describe your waste. Not just it’s physical description – for example waste bark, cork and wood – but also the correct List of Wastes code(s) – 030101 for waste bark and cork from wood processing and 030301 for waste bark and wood from paper pulp processing.
  • Know the SIC 2007 code of the process that produced the waste. As you can see in the example above, the way the waste was created can affect the codification.

All three of these these things are needed for the waste transfer or consignment note – you can read more about these on the waste types page.

In addition, you must understand:

  • how to store your waste ‘safely and securely’. As a minimum, you must keep it protected from the weather and from rodent, human and other interference. Depending on the waste type, you may need to keep it in a special container that prevents spills or stops it from catching fire;
  • where your waste is going and what happens to it. Even after it has left your site, waste you produce is your responsibility and you can be fined if it is not disposed of correctly;
  • whether or not you need to register as a hazardous waste producer. If you produce 500kgs or more of hazardous waste on any site in a twelve month period, the answer is yes;
  • whether or not you need to register an exemption, or obtain an environmental permit. This must be considered on a site by site basis as it depends on what the waste materials are, how much of them you produce or store, how long you keep them for and what you do with them on your site.