GN6.1: Duty of Care

Guidance Note purpose 

The purpose of this Guidance Note is to provide guidance for asset managers, property managers and facilities managers on the Duty of Care responsibilities relating to waste produced at a property.  

Context 

All waste producers in the UK have a legal duty of care when producing, importing, storing, transporting, treating or disposing of waste.   

The duty of care applies to all commercial and domestic interactions on waste, including those acting as a broker between the waste producers and final waste disposers. 

Importance 

The primary driver for duty of care is to ensure that waste is handled and stored safely, minimising risks to both individuals and the environment. 

There are strong legal, financial and reputational drivers to understanding and meeting the duty of care responsibilities relating to waste generated at a property. 

Legislation 

The duty of care originates in the section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act (1990) and has been updated through subsequent regulations.  In Northern Ireland, duty of care is issued in accordance with Article 5(9) of the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) order 1997.    

The specific requirements and penalties associated with duty of care vary between the constituent countries of the UK.  In England, for example, failure to comply with the regulations can result in unlimited fines at both Magistrate Court and Crown Court level. 

Reputation 

Duty of care has implications beyond waste management within a property’s boundary.  As this can extend to the final destination of waste, it is important that waste producers have robust arrangements in place to ensure that waste is being handled appropriately throughout their supply chain. 

The failure to meet duty of care responsibilities, with associated prosecution or media exposure, can damage reputation with a range of stakeholders. Alongside occupiers, this can involve business partners, including local authorities, developers and investors. 

Responsibilities & Interests

The table below summarises the key activities associated with duty of care, and highlights where asset managers, property managers and facilities managers are likely to have a responsibility or specific interest. 

  • AM - Asset Manager
  • PM - Property Manager
  • FM - Facilities Manager

1. Determine a property’s waste profile  

Stakeholder:

2. Ensure that waste is removed by a licensed operator 

Stakeholder:

3. Ensure the safe and secure containment of waste 

Stakeholder:

4. Document the movement of non-hazardous waste 

Stakeholder:

5. Understand the journey of a property’s waste 

Stakeholder:

6. Accompany hazardous waste movement with Consignment Notes 

Stakeholder:

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How to

Intro

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Although the duty of care is common across all parts of the UK there are some differences which must be observed with additional actions being required and differing documentation requirements.  These are summarised in the table below: 

A property manager will most often be responsible for coordinating Duty of Care responsibilities, with information and support provided by a facilities manager.  The process of considering duty of care responsibilities should take place within a wider waste management framework. 

 

1. Determine a property’s waste profile

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It is important to have a clear understand of the type of waste generated at a property, and any requirements relating to how this is to be managed.  Certain waste types, for example, hazardous waste, will be subject to specific handling arrangements. 

Undertaking a waste audit is a useful way to create a property’s waste profile, and to map out the requirements associated with different waste streams. 

2. Ensure that waste is removed by a licensed operator

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It is important that waste is transferred from a property to an authorised operator.  The operator must be able to provide evidence of their authorisation, such as a copy of their waste carriers' licence. As a further check it is sensible to ask the operator to provide a copy of the Environmental Permit (or proof of its exemption) where they will be taking the waste to. 

It is also useful to check the public register to check any evidence they provide. The Environment Register contains information on: 

  • Waste carrier, broker and dealer registrations. 
  • Environmental permits for waste operations. 
  • Waste exemptions. 

3. Ensure the safe and secure containment of waste

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It is important to put arrangements in place to prevent waste from escaping to the environment.  This can include, for example: 

  • Using containers that labelled clearly and correctly and are suitable for the storage and transportation of the relating waste type.  Containers should prevent waste leaking or spoiling, i.e., preventing its intended treatment.  
  • Limiting access to the waste to only those that are authorised to handle it, including both accidental or intended unauthorised access. For example, rough sleepers may occasionally try to access wheeled bins and it is important to keep them secure to avoid serious injury. 
  • Making sure that vehicles leaving the property are sheeted, and that waste is secured appropriately for transport purposes. 

4. Document the movement of non-hazardous waste

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Waste Transfer Notes the recording of waste collected from a property to be taken to an onward destination for storage, processing or disposal. They must include the following information: 

  • Nature of the business creating the waste SIC (Statutory Industry Code 2007). 
  • Waste type (using the List of Waste six digit code). 
  • The amount of waste collected.  
  • How the waste is contained. 
  • Name address and license number of the business collecting the waste. 
  • The date and place where the collection occurred. 
  • Final destination of the waste. 
  • Details of any waste broker used to facilitate the transfer. 
  • These WTNs must be kept for a minimum of two years. 

There is no standard format for a waste transfer note, although various example templates exist online. It is possible to generate Electronic WTNs through the online edoc portal. 

Season Tickets can be used where the same waste type will be taken by the same waste carrier, and to the same destination, for a period of up to twelve months. The ticket must contain the same information as a Waste Transfer Note and be stored for two years. 

5. Understand the journey of a property’s waste

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Duty of care requires that steps are taken to ensure that, when waste transferred from one party to another, the waste will be managed correctly throughout its journey to disposal or recovery. 

Alongside having evidence that the operator taking waste from a property has appropriate licenses, further checks may be necessary to ascertain that the operator is managing waste generated at the property appropriately.  These checks may include, for example: 

  • Requesting information from the operator about the next destination for the waste, and checking that the subsequent destination is licensed to receive waste. 
  • Undertaking more detailed review of whether waste generated at a property has arrived at the intended next destination as expected. 

6. Accompany hazardous waste movement with Consignment Notes

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Any movement of hazardous waste, referred to as Special Waste in Scotland, must be accompanied by a documented Consignment Note, which must be stored for three years. This should be provided by the waste management contractor on collection. Consignment Notes must include the following information on the materials being collected.   

  • Nature of the business creating the waste Statutory Industry Code 2007. 
  • Nature of process giving rise to the waste. 
  • Waste type (using the List of waste - six digit code). 
  • The amount of waste, the carrier’s details and the final destination of the waste.  
  • The components and concentrations of the waste. 
  • The physical form of the waste. 
  • The wastes hazard code. 
  • How the waste is contained. 

Additionally, where relevant: 

  • The UN Identification number. 
  • Proper shipping name. 
  • UN Class. 
  • Packing group. 
  • Any special handling requirements. 

Common hazardous materials produced in a building include:: 

  • Fluorescent tubes. 
  • Lead acid batteries (in Uninterruptible Power Supplies). 
  • Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). 
  • Solvent based paints. 
  • Building chemicals, degreasers, water treatment chemicals. 

Hazardous wastes must not be disposed of in the General Waste stream, or in skips used for bulky items or fit-out waste. 

Specific requirements and penalties associated the transfer of hazardous waste in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland include:  

  • In Scotland, Consignment Note numbers must be purchased from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency before waste is transferred. 
  • In Wales, sites producing hazardous waste must register with Natural Resources Wales. 
  • In Northern Ireland, prenotification of Hazardous waste transfers must be given and a fee paid for either a Consignment Note (consisting of 6 coloured pages) with a unique pre-printed number or a unique number for entry into their own Consignment Note stationary. 

Related Guidance Notes 

The following Guidance Notes contain related information: 

Additional Resources