The Duty of Care is set out in section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and associated regulations. It applies to anyone who is the holder of waste, including local authorities, businesses and waste management companies.
Persons concerned with waste must ensure that the waste is managed properly, recovered or disposed of safely, does not cause harm to human health or pollution of the environment and is only transferred to someone who is authorised to receive it. The duty applies to any person who produces, imports, carries, keeps, treats or disposes of controlled waste or as a broker has control of such waste.
Breach of the Duty of Care is an offence, with a penalty, conviction or an unlimited fine on conviction on indictment.
Under the Duty of Care Regulations 1991 (‘the 1991 Regulations’), parties transferring waste are required to complete and retain a ‘transfer note’, containing a written description of that waste. Records must be kept for a minimum of 2 years
The 1991 Regulations require waste to be described on the transfer note by reference to the European Waste Catalogue (EWC) and its appropriate code number. These amendments to the 1991 regulations were brought in to meet the Landfill Directive’s requirements on monitoring the
acceptance and treatment of waste, and will also help to fulfill the UK’s obligation to implement the EWC.
You cannot contract the Duty of Care for your waste away to someone else. Management will be held responsible for all the acts or omissions by staff and employees so you cannot shift your DoC on to either your contractors, or your staff. When your waste is in someone else’s hands, your DoC is shared BUT as the producer of the waste you always have a responsibility. Well constructed, unambiguous contracts with the people who handle your waste are therefore vital and will allow you to act immediately to put matters right should you discover or suspect any breach of your own or your contractors DoC.