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Commercial waste - what all businesses need to know

If you operate a business, you have a responsibility to ensure your waste is handled correctly.

Your legal obligations and duty of care

The Environmental Protection Act 1990, Section 34 requires businesses to ensure that their waste is disposed of in an appropriate and legal manner and that any organisation that they pass waste to is authorised to accept, transport, recycle or dispose of it safely.

You must have taken all reasonable measures to apply the waste hierarchy (opens in a new window).

Waste produced at your premises should be collected by a registered waste carrier, who will provide you with a waste transfer note. If your waste carrier has not provided you with a waste transfer note they may not be registered and may be disposing of your waste illegally.

Waste transfer notes - why you need them

A waste transfer note is a receipt, which shows details of the waste that has been collected from your property. Transfer notes must be kept for up to two years, as your local council or another authorised agency may require you to produce them.

Your waste transfer note must include:

  • a declaration that you have applied the waste management hierarchy to the waste you produce. This means you must consider reducing, reusing then recycling before deciding to dispose of waste
  • the type of waste produced including the European waste code
  • the Standard Industry Classification (SIC) code for your business. Please use this excel document (excel, 1Mb) (opens in a new window) to find the SIC code that applies to your business.

If your business does not have waste transfer documentation then you are liable for prosecution and could be fined up to £5000. The council also has the power to issue a fixed penalty notice of £300 to any business that does not hold this documentation.

Registered waste carriers are companies who are licensed to transport and dispose of waste. If you are concerned about a waste collector's authorisation, visit the Environment Agency's public register.

Business rates

Business rates have nothing to do with waste collection, treatment or disposal. These rates are collected by your local district or borough council on behalf of central government and the amount charged is based on the rateable value of the premises occupied.


You cannot take the waste your business produces to a recycling centre or put it in your bin at home.


Household recycling centres are for household waste only - commercial waste is not permitted at these sites. If you dispose of commercial waste here or in a household domestic bin you are breaking the law and will not be provided with the waste transfer documentation you are legally required to have.

Got a question? Contact us


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