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Duty of Care and the Law - What You Must Know
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Waste Management Services
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Introduction to Our Waste Management Services
What is waste?
Waste is any substance or object that you intend to or are required to disregard, including waste from households, waste from industry and healthcare, as well as hazardous wastes.
What is meant by hazardous waste?
Hazardous waste is any material that poses a threat to human health or the environment, either now or over time. Hazardous waste examples:
- Automotive oils
- Paints and inks
- Electrical equipment containing hazardous components, for example tubes in televisions
- Healthcare wastes (clinical, pharmaceutical and dental wastes)
- Fluorescent light tubes
- Anti freeze
Waste Management and the Law
In England and Wales, the way your business manages waste is governed by tough regulations that affect the way you run your business and manage the waste created by it. It is vital that you follow the latest rules on waste disposal to remain within the law. If your business holds or stores 500 Kilograms of waste or more in a year, you must register with the Environment Agency as a hazardous waste producer. By complying with this waste legislation, you avoid the risk of legal enforcement and can also lead to cost savings. These legal waste requirements have been introduced to ensure that company employees are kept safe and the environment is protected.
Duty of Care Obligations
The legislation provides stringent guidelines that must be followed by companies if they are involved in the production, storage, transportation, treatment and disposal of hazardous waste. Failure to follow these guidelines can result in heavy financial penalties being imposed on non-compliant companies.
Compliance with Duty of Care procedures can be broken down into 5 key areas:
- Store the waste safely and securely.
- Ensure that your waste carrier is fully licensed to handle your waste.
- If you produce more than 500Kg of waste in a year, you must ensure that you register with the Environment agency.
- Maintain a comprehensive audit trail – it is your duty to keep a log of waste transfer notes to document all the waste you transfer.
- These Waste Transfer Notes (basically records of all the waste you transfer) must be kept for at least 2 years.
More detailed information can be found on the Environment Agency website, where the full implications of the compliance issues and your duties can be found.
The Environment Agency requires that producers of waste must provide an audit of their waste before it can be legally collected by a licensed waste carrier. The information gathered will include details relating to the quantity of waste, references to European Waste Catalogue code (EWC), the packaging and the substances present in the waste. Providing this information as part of the pre-acceptance audit will enable your contractor to decide whether they can safely dispose of the waste and will help you to meet your duty of care obligations.
What type of organisations should carry out pre-acceptance procedures?
In the main, these include businesses that handle certain types of hazardous waste and include (but not exclusively limited to):
- Care homes that provide medical or nursing care
- GP surgeries and health centres
- Veterinary practices
- Dental surgeries
- Community pharmacies
- Ambulance Trusts
- Research laboratories
- Pharmaceutical manufacturers
- Other medical practices
Who needs to prepare the information?
Your company, as the waste producer, will need to prepare the audit for your organisation. You could:
- Collect the information yourself but you do need to ensure that you understand the requirements that are required before you carry out the audit, and be able to provide the necessary appropriate information to your waste contractor. This determines whether the waste can be accepted at a waste disposal site, in line with its environmental permit.
- Employ an external specialist to collect the information on your behalf and produce an audit.
- Consult with your waste contractor, as they may be able to offer this as a service for a small charge, or assist you with guidance.
Is this compulsory?
Yes, if your waste is sent to an alternative treatment plant or clinical waste incinerator for disposal you must provide your contractor with pre-acceptance information.
What happens if the company fails to carry this out?
Failure to comply is a breach of your duty of care, which can lead to the Environment Agency taking enforcement action against you. In addition, the operator of the treatment plant, waste incinerator or IPPC transfer stations may be unable to accept your waste onto their site. In addition it may mean that your waste contractor is unable to collect your waste as a result.
What’s the next step for me?
Contact our waste disposal team by phone on 01207 505 275 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or if you feel confident enough to carry this out yourself, go to the Environment Agency Website. The NWR Hygiene Group team will be able to guide you through the intricacies of Waste Management and help you to develop ‘Best Practice Policies’ which is a crucial part of Hazardous Waste Management.