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Duty of care for business waste

Introduction

If business waste is not properly managed, it can endanger the environment and human health.

If your company generates waste, you have a legal obligation to dispose of it safely.

Following these standards will assist your company in dealing with garbage more sustainably while avoiding enforcement action.

Waste-generating businesses are obligated by law to:

  • Store garbage in a safe and secure location;

  • Accurately define your waste;

  • Segregate any hazardous or special waste;

  • Utilize registered waste transporters, and

  • Retain records for at least two years.

This article defines waste and will assist you in understanding your legal responsibilities when storing, transferring, recovering, or disposing of business waste.

 

Is my company generating waste?

If you own a business, you almost certainly generate waste. Any material or object that your company discards, wants to discard, or is obligated to throw away is considered waste.

 

What is the definition of waste?

A material is considered waste if it is:

  • Left behind, undesirable, or a strain on your business, such as construction rubble;

  • No longer fit for its original function, out-of-date, damaged, or unfit for use;

  • Combined with another waste item, implying that the entire mixture is waste;

  • Intentionally and illegally abandoned or dumped, as in fly-tipping;

  • An object or substance discarded inadvertently, unwittingly, or involuntarily;

  • Animal by-products, for example, are required by law to be discarded.

Once a material or thing has been designated as waste, it will stay so until it no longer poses a risk to the environment or human health.

 

What are my waste disposal options?

Getting rid of waste does not imply discarding it. There are several methods available, ranging from disposal to recycling and recovery, to put your company’s waste to good use. You may even be able to repurpose corporate waste to increase revenues.

Material that is being recovered, for example, sent for recycling or readied for reuse, is classified as waste until it is converted back into a usable product or meets prescribed End of Waste standards.

Hazardous waste is defined as waste that is hazardous to human health or the natural environment. When dealing with hazardous waste, your company is subject to additional requirements.

If waste is not handled or stored appropriately, it has the potential to harm the environment.

As a producer and holder of business waste, you must take precautions to protect it from:

  • Waste container corrosion or wear

  • Unintentional spilling or leaking, or run-off from garbage exposed to rains

  • Accidents or weather causing controlled trash to break open and spill

  • Waste dropping or flying away while being kept or carried

  • Odor emissions caused by improper storage or degradation of organic waste stored beyond the permitted storage length

  • Waste scavenging by animals or humans

 

How can I safely store company waste?

To prevent waste theft, vandalism, or scavenging, employ security procedures at locations where your business waste is stored.

You should take extra precautions to safeguard some forms of garbage, such as:

  • Debris that are appealing to scavengers, such as building and demolition materials and scrap metal;

  • Waste liquids that can pollute the environment if containers are damaged, such as the usage of bunds to store waste oil drums;

  • High-risk waste, for example, certain types of clinical waste;

  • Regularly inspect your business rubbish to ensure that it has not been disturbed or tampered with.

You are liable for any pollution created by materials from your site.

 

Choosing the correct waste container

All waste items must be stored safely and securely in appropriate containers such as skips, intermediate bulk containers, or drums. Maintain the garbage containers in proper working order.

Make sure you clearly mark containers with their contents so that the proper garbage is stored in them and future holders know what they contain. When reusing containers, always be careful to remove any existing labels.

Make certain that garbage cannot blow away. If you keep rubbish in skips or similar containers, make sure they are covered or netted. If rain will hinder reuse or create contaminated run-off, store waste under cover.

 

Duty of care when transporting commercial waste

Your responsibility for commercial garbage does not end when it leaves your premises or is turned over to a waste carrier. Depending on the type of trash, it may extend further down the waste chain. Getting the trash transportation procedure correctly can save your company money and help the environment.