Household waste duty of care
Environmental Protection Act 1990
Some people pose as legitimate waste carriers and then fly-tip rubbish that they have been paid to take away. Section 34(2A) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 requires occupiers of a domestic property to take all reasonable measures to ensure that waste produced on their property is only transferred to an authorised person.
A very similar legal duty applies to businesses and other organisations that produce or handle waste, but they must also make and keep written records.
An authorised person includes:
the local authority that provides your normal waste collection service
someone who has a valid registration as a carrier, broker or dealer of waste
an operator of a waste site with an appropriate environmental permit or registered exemption
A waste carrier taking waste from customers must be an 'upper tier' carrier. Each carrier should have a registration number starting CBDU, followed by a set of numbers.
Reasonable measures are:
ask if the person or company taking the waste away is a registered carrier
ask to see copy of their registration certificate (but do no not accept photocopies)
make a note of the registration number or take a copy or photograph of it
take a note of the name of the collector and details of the vehicle used
ask for a receipt (which should have all the details of the business on)
check their details with the Environment Agency on 08708 50 65 06 and ask for an instant Waste Carrier Validation Check, or check online at the Environment Agency's website
If you are transporting your own household waste for disposal, you can use the Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs), having first checked that they can accept that type of waste. If you take your waste to a site run by a private business, in order to meet your duty of care you must:
check that they have a permit or exemption, issued by, or registered with, the Environment Agency
make a note of the site's permit or exemption registration number or take a copy or photograph of it
It is a criminal offence not to take all reasonable measures available to you to meet your duty of care. You could face prosecution in the magistrates' court or The Crown Court, and, on conviction, an unlimited fine.
If waste is generated within your home or garden, but as a result of a business activity (for example garden waste generated by a landscape gardener or building waste as a result of removing a fitted kitchen) it is defined as, and therefore subject to regulation as, in the case of the gardener, commercial waste, or in the case of the builder, industrial waste.
The tradesperson is responsible for the waste they produce including its transport and disposal. They must comply with their own duty of care obligations in relation to that waste, and the cost of its disposal should be included in what they charge for the work. If you, however, later arrange the transfer of the waste from your home, you must comply with the duty to transfer it only to an authorised person (non-household waste is to be treated as household waste for the purposes of your duty of care).
If you are employing a tradesperson (e.g. builder, landscape gardener, carpet fitter) to carry out work on your property, you should check:
- that the tradesperson will dispose of the waste generated, and
- if another person comes to take the waste, it is a good idea to make a record of their details, such as vehicle used.
The tradesperson must by law exchange a waste transfer note with the carrier.
The Household Waste and Recycling Centres cannot accept waste produced by tradespersons.
Do not leave waste or scrap metal on the street, verge or edge of your property for anyone to take away. If you do this you won’t know who takes it, what they'll do with it, or whether they're legally allowed to transport it. A scrap metal dealer must by law keep records, including the name and address of the previous owner of the metal.
You may be given a fixed penalty notice if you breach this duty of care. While there is no obligation to pay this, if you choose to do so within 14 days, you would not be prosecuted for the offence. You may also provide evidence to the Council that prosecution is not appropriate, for example, by demonstrating you did meet your duty of care and identifying the person who took your waste.
We are required to report on the number of fixed penalty notices issued for the household waste duty of care offence (these have been available since January 2019). The fixed penalty is currently £200, payable within 14 days.
Did you know?
Your waste is your responsibility.
Giving waste to the wrong person
may result in you being fined.