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Legal Requirements for Commercial Waste Collections

Duty of Care

The duty of care regulations as set out in s.34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 affect ALL businesses. The regulations impose a legal duty on businesses to take all reasonable steps to make sure that:

  • Your waste is stored, handled, recycled or disposed of safely and legally
  • Your waste is stored, handled, recycled or disposed of only by a licensed waste carrier
  • You record transfers of waste between your business and another business using a waste transfer note

Waste Transfer Note

A Waste Transfer Note (WTN) is a legal document which must accompany any transfer of waste between waste holders, waste carriers and disposal sites. The purpose of a WTN is to allow other people who handle your waste to know what they are dealing with so that they can manage it safely and properly. You must keep all waste transfer notes signed by both you and your carrier for at least two years.

Litter and your Responsibilities as a Business

When a litter problem can be traced to certain types of businesses such as ‘food on the go’ establishments, mobile vendors or market stalls, a local authority can undertake appropriate enforcement action to compel the occupier or owner of the business or retail premises to clear litter and implement measures to prevent the land from becoming defaced again. Failure to comply may mean a Fixed Penalty Notice or costs incurred from completing Works in Default.


Fly-Tipping is a term used to describe the act of illegal dumping of rubbish or the deposit of waste on any land that does not have a license to accept waste. Whether the waste is hazardous or not, the dumping of any waste is illegal and comes with a cost to the offender including a possible 12 months imprisonment and a fine of up to £50,000.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Clean Neighbourhoods and Environmental Act 2005 can be downloaded from OPSI. Guidance on individual sections of the Act can be downloaded from the Department for Environmental Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Website.

With all collections, the trader will be required to complete a contract and waste transfer notice before the service can commence.

Trade Waste Duty Of Care

The law requires that all waste generated by a business or commercial operation is dealt with properly. As a business owner you are responsible for the proper containment and collection of all business waste, in order to comply with your duty of care. (Reference Environmental Protection Act 1990).

Trade waste includes all waste generated by the following kinds of organisations:

  • Any kind of business or profit-making organisation (including trading arms of charities)
  • Shops
  • Offices
  • Colleges
  • Homes for the elderly
  • Hospitals

All of these organisations have a Duty of Care by law to ensure that their waste is properly:

  • stored
  • collected
  • disposed or recycled 

For more information regarding your Duty of Care, please contact Natural Resources Wales.

If your business waste is found to be illegally dumped anywhere, you could be prosecuted and could face a fine of up to £50,000 or twelve months in jail.

Forthcoming legislation under The Environment (Wales) Act 2016 requires businesses to present their waste separately for collection, it also requires waste collectors such as waste management companies to collect specified materials by way of separate collection. You must present your recycling separated and you must not place recycling materials in your general refuse bin.

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