Dealing with your business waste

Your duty of care

Your duty of care for waste means that you have a legal responsibility to make sure that your businesses waste is stored, transported and recycled or disposed of in a way that does not harm the environment.

Duty of care does not stop when your waste is taken away, you must ensure it is managed properly. Illegal activity should be reported to SPEA's 24 hour hotline 0800 80 70 60. 

You must

  • Store your waste securely so it does not cause litter or attract vermin. Label your bins clearly so waste goes in the right place.
  • Segregate key recyclables for separate collection from your other waste. These are paper, cardboard, metal, glass and plastic. Ask your waste contractor for help.
  • Food businesses must segregate food waste for separate collection, unless you are in a rural area or you produce less than 5kg of food waste per week.
  • Check whoever collects your waste is registered with SEPA and it is going to an authorised facility.
  • Separate hazardous waste* from other types of waste, store it securely and use a consignment note when disposing of it. If in doubt, ask your waste contractor for help.
  • Ensure waste tyres are collected by legitimate operators - be suspicious of people offering unrealistically cheap collection services. This may be a sign that the waste is not being legally managed. 

* Hazardous waste includes waste chemicals, flourescent lights, used solvents, asbestos and waste oil.

Waste transfer notes

You must use Waste Transfer Notes (WTN) to describe your waste. If you have a regular collection this may be incorporated into your contract or payment invoice. 

WTNs ensure that there is a clear audit trail for managing waste legally. You must keep copies of all your WTNs for at least two years and be able to produce them if required by SEPA or council enforcement officers. 

The WTN must include:

  • A description of the waste
  • Details of the registered waste carrier including registration number
  • The quantity of the waste
  • The place, date and time of transfer
  • The name and address of both parties
  • Licence or permit details for the facility receiving the waste
  • The appropriate European Waste Catalogue (EWC) code for your waste
  • The Standard Industry Code (SIC) of your business


Contact the Business Waste and Recycling team

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