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Waste Hierarchy in the UK

The “waste hierarchy” ranks waste management options according to what is best for the environment. It gives top priority to preventing waste in the first place. When waste is created, it gives priority to preparing it for re-use, then recycling, then recovery, and last of all disposal (e.g. landfill.

What does your business or organisation have to do by law?

(a) Does your business or public body (including local authorities on behalf of householders) produce or handle waste? This includes importing, producing, carrying, keeping, treating or disposing of waste; dealers or brokers who have control of waste, and anyone responsible for the transfer of waste.

If yes, you need to take all such measures as are reasonable in the circumstances to apply the waste hierarchy to prevent waste, and to apply the hierarchy as a priority order when you transfer your waste to another person. This duty will also apply to those who operate under waste exemptions from the Environmental Permitting Regime.

You will need to add a declaration on your Duty of Care Waste Transfer Notes and Hazardous Waste Consignment Notes confirming that you have complied with this duty.

Here is some text you can use: ‘I confirm that I have fulfilled my duty to apply the waste hierarchy as required by regulation 12 of the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011.”

In addition, if you produce, import, carry, keep, treat or dispose of waste, or as a broker control such waste, you have a legal duty of care to take all reasonable steps to keep your waste safe. If you give your waste to someone else, you must be sure they are authorised to take it and can deal with it or dispose of it safely.

For further details visit http://www.environmentagency.gov.uk/business/topics/waste/default.aspx

(b) Are you operating a site that requires a permit under the Environmental Permitting Regulations (England and Wales) Regulations 2010? In addition to the duties described at (a) above, a condition in new or revised permits will place a duty on the permit holder to apply the hierarchy. For example you could minimise process loss through improvements to the way your business operates and/or considering recycling options for any waste produced at the site. 7 If you are an existing permit holder, this new condition will apply when your permit comes up for review. For more details, see Environmental Permitting Guidance.

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