Waste Removal – Who is Liable?

We all produce waste and we all have to take certain responsibilities for it, it is not just the responsibility of someone who moves it around for us or who manages or disposes of it on our behalf.

Waste management legislation clearly places certain legal responsibilities on the producer of waste, so it is important that you understand these liabilities. Guidance on this is given in “Waste Management: The Duty of Care – A Code of Practice”. This defines a producer as:

  • the person who made the substance become waste e.g. by breaking or contaminating it
  • the person who decided that a substance was unwanted and therefore waste

Therefore, for example, where construction work is taking place, the waste producer is the person actually doing the work that produces the waste, not the person who issued the contract or gave instructions for the work to be carried out. Though you can of course, specify within a contract, just how you want waste to be managed.

By appointing a contractor who is licensed by the local authority, you are ensuring a degree of safety. Failure to use a local authority licensed contractor may render yourself liable to prosecution, so it seldom pays to use unlicensed traders.

Licensed waste collectors have efficient recycling methods, separating different materials to help reduce landfill. Disposal of waste generates costs for waste companies which is why ‘rogue traders’ avoid such costs by fly-tipping. When fly-tipped waste is examined, it is often possible to trace the origin by items of waste bearing serial numbers, containing delivery notes, bearing addresses on boxes or paperwork etc. so there is more than just the cost to the local authority to consider when arranging a collection company.