But what about Duty of Care & Producers Responsibility?
It is all over the news about fly tipping. Lets be fair, it is a disgrace and nobody wants it. But is this the most common waste offence?
So that got me thinking about other areas where the law, when it comes to waste, is potentially being broken, & why…
Well having worked in the industry for 20 years, 10 of which were in a Total Waste Management (TWM) team for a large service provider. It was a given almost, that large producers would be legal and compliant, some watertight, some sailing close to the wind. But all legal. After all, the clients I dealt with produced thousands of tonnes, had a compliance team, a Health Safety / Environment manager etc. Not to mention audits after audit, audits to audit the audits! So, they knew, to an extent what was needed.
So anyway, audit comes around and the customers are asked the basics. Who manages your waste? Well its x, y, or z. Or maybe all three! So, you get asked for a waste carriers license, and maybe then, to see waste transfer notes for the waste & recycling being moved.
Now we know there is so much more to it, but lets look at the basic legal requirement.
You must ensure a business or person, is licensed to carry your waste before you transfer it to them. And that the waste is being disposed of correctly i.e. a permitted, or, registered exempt facility.
Q – But who does this apply too? Those big businesses above? Yep…
Q – What about the shop on the corner, with a bin the size of the one I’ve got at home? Surely not? Erm yes, them too.
But there must be some process that triggers something to control this, and support these businesses? It can’t be that easy to break the law, that is effectively policed by the Environment Agency (EA) , to ensure we don’t cause harm to people and / or the environment.
So I spoke to the EA who confirmed what I thought. Not only was this happening, 90% of breaches were from small, to medium size businesses. Now, you don’t need to be Columbo to see why!
Now, lets put this into perspective. The corner shop is statistically 11,543% less likely (yes I made that up like most stats) to cause a catastrophic issue to the environment, than, a large manufacture of chemical products. And, there are only so many EA Agents out there helping to find breaches and trigger subsequent fines. But, they do encourage whistle blowing and they will investigate if reported.
It sounds harsh, especially as its not obvious enough for people. We need to help, educate, make people aware. Keep it simple.
I studied business many years ago. I studied accountancy, even law, to make sure we managed people & contracts correctly. But never, did I ever, get told to mind the waste regulations. And why not, maybe it is a dirty little secret. It is no where near as sexy as marketing strategies. And lets not forget, the government make sure we know how to pay our taxes don’t they? That’s first on the list.
So anyway, I feel I need to do my bit. So here come the links.
1. To check if a company is registered to carry waste, or to see if a site has exemptions, or a permit, you can check via the following link:
2. All waste & recycling transfers will also need a waste transfer note, signed by the transferor to the transferee (NOTE : Most waste collection businesses will produce this for you, and you sign as the producer, but it is still your responsibility to ensure its correct, and you must retain your copy for 2 years. If the waste is regular, and details don’t change, annual notes can be produced (That is a lot less paperwork to keep safe after all).
3. General support. This is a document the EA have produced for all producers.