Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

What is the duty of care for waste?

What is the duty of care for waste?

As a business, you have a legal responsibility to ensure that you produce, store, transport and dispose of your business waste without harming the environment. This is called your duty of care.

The duty of care has no time limit. You are specifically responsible for your waste from when you produce it until you have transferred it to an authorised person. However your duty does not end when you hand over the waste to the next holder. It extends along the entire chain of management of your waste. If you think that your waste is not being managed correctly you must take action to check and prevent this.

You must:

  • segregate, store and transport your waste appropriately and securely, making sure that you do not cause any pollution or harm to human health
  • check that your waste is transported and handled by people or businesses that are authorised to do so
  • complete waste transfer notes, including a full, accurate description of the waste, to document all waste you transfer, and keep them as a record for at least two years.

If a waste carrier takes your waste away, you need to check that they are authorised to accept it.

NIEA: Registered carriers database

SEPA: Who is registered?

In Northern Ireland, if you ‘normally and regularly’ transport waste as part of your business, you must be registered as a waste carrier with the NIEA. If you transport your own construction or demolition waste you must register as an upper tier waste carrier. If you are not certain whether or not you should be registered NIEA can help you. NIEA provides guidance on what is meant by the term ‘normally and regularly’ in the glossary of the terms of the following Duty of Care code of practice.

NIEA: Duty of Care code of practice

In Scotland if you normally and regularly transport waste produced by your own business, you must register with SEPA as a professional collector or transporter of waste. If you transport your own construction or demolition waste you must usually register as a waste carrier instead. You will soon be able to register online. If you need to register before the online service is available, download the application form.

SEPA: Application form to register as a professional collector or transporter of waste (Adobe PDF - 54KB)

If your business carries out work at private households any waste you produce is classed as business waste and this guidance will apply to this waste. This includes waste you collect when you deliver new items.

If you transport construction or demolition waste, or other people's waste you may need to register as a waste carrier, broker or dealer

Waste carriers, brokers and dealers

If you use contactors who create waste on your site it is good practice to ensure that your contract clarifies who has responsibility for the waste.

If your business is home-based any waste you produce from your business activities is classed as business waste. You must keep it separate from your household waste and complete waste transfer notes when it is collected or disposed of. See the page in this guideline on completing waste transfer notes

The NIEA has produced a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.

NIEA: Duty of Care - a short guide

NIEA has produced a guide for farmers on how to manage farm waste.

NIEA: Duty of Care for Farmers - responsibilities for agricultural waste

Further Information

NetRegs: Duty of Care for Waste (Scotland) leaflet (PDF - 997KB)

NetRegs: Duty of Care e-learning tools: Scotland and Northern Ireland versions. Sign up to use the free interactive e-learning tools.

Find your nearest waste site

Contact your environmental regulator

Northern Ireland: The duty of care for waste management code of practice 

NIEA: Construction and Demolition Waste and Recycled Concrete

Scottish Government: Duty of care - a code of practice

SEPA: What is your Duty of Care?

In this Guideline

What is waste?

What is the duty of care for waste?

New waste duties for buisnesses in Northern Ireland

New waste duties for businesses in Scotland

Who can deal with your waste

Waste Transfer Notes and how to complete them

European Waste Catalogue (EWC) - waste codes

Waste storage

Controls on specific types of waste

Landfill waste

Carrying out waste management activities yourself

Duty of Care for Waste Legislation

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NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms