Waste management and duty of care

A skip operator in Essex has recently been fined almost £25,000 over waste management. The fine resulted from the skip operator’s failure to check the identity and legitimacy of the waste haulier who was taking the waste away. The waste was subsequently found dumped in four different locations in the county and The Environment Agency was unable to trace the waste haulier.

Although the skip operator thought he was acting lawfully he was prosecuted for not fulfilling his Duty of Care obligations. The case highlights the vulnerability of smaller organisations who may not be aware of the Duty of Care obligations to which they are subject and with which they are required to comply.

The Environment Agency, the statutory regulator of waste management issues in England, has a Code of Practice an understanding of which can assist businesses in fulfilling their regulatory obligations. In addition, it is worth noting that there are a number of key steps that waste producers can take in order to fulfil their legal responsibilities in ensuring that their waste is transferred and disposed of lawfully. These steps include:

  • Checking the identity of the person who is ultimately disposing of your waste and that they are licensed to do so. You can check this on the Environment Agency Public Register;
  • Keeping your waste safely stored;
  • Preventing your waste from causing pollution or environmental harm;
  • Preventing your waste material from harming anyone;
  • Preparing a transfer note if your waste is being transferred to a third party for reuse or disposal.

If you are a waste producer or are involved in any part of the waste management cycle and have questions or concerns regarding the extent of, or compliance with, your statutory obligations, please contact environmental law specialist, Jane Haviland.

Jane Haviland is a solicitor specialising in environmental law in the Business Services Team at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.

Suffolk Environmental Law Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email bg@barkergotelee.co.uk