Duty of care for business waste

Does my business produce waste?


If you run a business you will almost certainly produce waste. Waste is any substance or object that your business discards, intends to discard or is required to discard.

What is the definition of waste?

A material is likely to be waste if it is:

  • left over, unwanted or a burden on your business eg building rubble
  • no longer able to be used for its original purpose, out-of-date, damaged or unsuitable for use
  • mixed with another waste material, which means the whole mixture is waste
  • deliberately and illegally abandoned or dumped eg fly-tipping
  • an accidentally, unknowingly or involuntarily discarded material or substance
  • required to be discarded by law eg animal by-product materials

Once a substance or object is classed as waste, it will remain waste until it no longer poses a potential threat to the environment or human health.

What are my options for discarding waste?

Discarding waste does not mean just getting rid of it. There are a range of options from disposal to recycling and recovery which can put your business waste materials back into good use. You may even be able to reuse your business waste to boost profits.

Material being recovered, eg sent for recycling or prepared for reuse, is classed as waste until it is made into a useable product again or meets defined End of Waste conditions.

If you are not sure whether a substance or object is classed as waste you can:

Waste that is harmful to human health or the natural environment is known as hazardous waste. There are additional obligations on your business when dealing with hazardous waste.