Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Storing and handling food and drink

Store food, handle food and reduce risk to the environment

You must never allow food or food ingredients to enter watercourses or surface water drains, as they can cause water pollution. Naturally occurring bacteria in the water use the food to multiply and at the same time they remove oxygen from the water. Without oxygen the fish and small insects in the watercourses cannot survive.

What you must do

If you cause or allow surface water or groundwater pollution you may be committing an offence and may be prosecuted and fined or imprisoned.

If you store oil,such as vegetable oil on your premises you may need to comply with the oil storage regulations. Even if these regulations do not apply to your business, you should consider meeting their requirements as they are designed to prevent pollution.

Oil storage

Good practice

Store all liquids, such as milk, fruit juice and molasses, where you can contain any spills. This should be in an impermeable bund, or secondary containment system (SCS). The SCS should contain at least 110% of the largest tank, or 25% of the total volume of the liquid that you are likely to store, whichever is the greater.

Inspect your SCS regularly and remove any rainwater. If the water is contaminated you may need to deal with it as hazardous/special waste.

Hazardous / special waste

To prevent damage, use collision barriers if storage areas are close to traffic routes.

Connect the drains from delivery areas to the foul drainage system (sewers), as contamination is very likely in these areas. Use rollover bunds, ramps or stepped access to isolate delivery areas from the surface water system.

Where possible locate delivery areas under cover to prevent run-off becoming contaminated with material from spills.

To reduce the risk of spills, supervise deliveries of raw materials to your site.

If possible, run pipelines above ground and protect them from collision damage. If you install a pipeline below ground, you should:

  • place it in a leakproof, protective sleeve or duct
  • put inspection chambers at joints as these are where leaks are most likely to occur
  • inspect and test the pipeline regularly.

You must not connect pipeline ducts to the surface water system. This could cause pollution.

Have a pollution incident response procedure for dealing with spills. Ensure your staff understand the procedure and know how to follow it.

Report pollution incidents to the incident hotline as soon as they happen on 0800 80 70 60.

Pollution incident response planning

Keep spill kits near to where you might need them with clear instructions for their use. Make sure your < staff know where they are and how to use them.

They can contain:

  • absorbent materials, eg sand
  • containment equipment, eg booms
  • pumps and suction equipment
  • pipe blockers
  • drain mats.

Make an inventory of all the equipment and materials you have on site. These should be suitable for the type and quantity of fuel, oil and chemicals you store and use.

Train all staff in what to do in the event of a spill and how to use any spill equipment.

Report pollution incidents immediately to the emergency hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

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