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Duty of Care Regulations

The Duty of Care Regulations affect all UK Businesses – if you don’t comply, there can be heavy fines.


The Duty of Care Regulations (part of the 1990 Environmental Protection Act 1990) applies to all Controlled Waste. The Regulations require that, subject to various exceptions, anyone who keeps, treats or disposes of Controlled Waste should hold a Waste Management Licence. Controlled Waste should only be transferred to an Authorised Person registered as a Carrier of Controlled Wastes (or one who is registered as exempt) under the Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989. The Regulations state that a Business Owner must take all reasonable steps to keep safe the Waste produced by that Business; if the Waste is given to someone else, they must be authorised to collect, transport, recycle or dispose of it safely; the Regulations also apply to brokers.


Anyone who carries, disposes of, imports, keeps, produces or treats Waste is subject to a Duty of Care and must take all reasonable and applicable measures to:


  • prevent another person illegally treating, keeping, depositing or otherwise disposing of waste
  • prevent the escape of waste
  • ensure that transfer of the waste only occurs to an Authorised Person and that the transfer is accompanied by a written description of the Waste


Producers of Waste are required to take due care to ensure that it is stored correctly and subsequently disposed of in a safe and legal manner. It is the duty of a business to prevent escapes of waste that could cause pollution or be a hazard to people. It must be stored in suitable containers to prevent escape by any means, including adverse weather conditions or vandalism.


If you produce or deal with Waste that has certain hazardous properties, you will also have to comply with the Hazardous (Special) Waste Regulations.


The Regulations do not imply ownership; they apply to Waste; an object becomes waste when the holder (not the owner) discards it. Items collected for repair and subsequent return have not been discarded and are not waste. Objects removed from the items in the course of repair and subsequently discarded become Waste but it is the holder (the person carrying out the repair) who is responsible for disposal.


What To Do?


Waste can only be removed from premises by a recognised Waste Carrier (licensed with the Environment Agency) and a Controlled Waste Transfer Note must be completed to prove that waste bas been disposed of correctly. Transfer Notes should be retained for two years; the Environment Agency has a right to inspect records. The Duty of Care Regulations do not apply to occupiers of domestic property for the household waste produced on that property; licensing requirements do not apply to household waste from a domestic property that is treated, kept or disposed of within the boundary of the property by the occupier.


The Regulations were amended in 2003 to allow Waste Collection Authorities (as well as the Environment Agency) to check whether businesses are completing and retaining their Duty of Care Transfer Notes correctly. A further amendment in 2005 included householders within its remit; it is the householders’ responsibility to ensure that any Waste they pass on goes to a Registered Carrier.




Waste: any substance or object that the holder discards or intends or is required to discard

Controlled Waste: Commercial, Industrial and Household Wastes (including Hazardous/Special Wastes). Domestic waste is normally collected by the Local Council. In England and Wales, householders have a duty to take all reasonable measures to ensure that any Household Waste produced by them on the property is transferred to an authorised person or carrier. This includes skip hire businesses or anyone who takes waste away. In Northern Ireland and Scotland, householders are exempt from the Duty of Care for Household Waste that they produce but does apply if householders want to dispose of waste not from their property – such as Waste from their Workplace, Waste produced by someone else (for example, tradespeople working at their property). Some Wastes must not be treated as household waste; for example, asbestos waste arising from a household may be classified as industrial waste

Hazardous (Special) Waste: At present, Explosives and most Radioactive Wastes are excluded from the Duty of Care Regulations.



To see the outcome of ignoring Environmental Legislation and Regulations, read more at Examples of Fines.

Find more information on the Netregs website.

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