Duty of care - your waste responsibilities

Every business has a legal responsibility for the waste they generate.

You have to ensure that they store, transfer, transport and dispose of your controlled waste without harming the environment. This is called ‘duty of care’.

Below you can find information on storing your waste, choosing a waste contractor, waste, transfer notes, transporting waste and a number of other waste issues you may wish to consider as a waste producer.

This duty is not voluntary. Businesses failing to meet these regulations may be prosecuted.

Storing Your Waste

You must store your waste in a secure place and use suitable containers, in good condition, to prevent your waste escaping. You are responsible for any pollution caused by materials that come from your site.

Transferring Your Waste

Ensure your waste is transferred to an authorised collector such as your local authority or a reputable waste contractor. It is not acceptable to dispose of your waste in a domestic waste bin or public litter bin or use local your recycling centre for waste from your business without the relevant permit.

Please visit the Resource Efficient Scotland website  for a list of all of all the registered waste contractors in your local area. The website also provides advice on how best to reduce business costs through resource efficiency.

Waste Transfer Notes

You are legally required to describe the wastes you produce and intend to transfer for disposal or recovery. This is commonly known as a trade waste agreement or a waste transfer note.

What is a Waste Transfer Note?

  • A Waste Transfer Note (WTN) is a document that must be completed when waste is transferred from one party to another.
  • A Waste Transfer Note ensures there is a clear paper trail from when the waste is produced until it is disposed of.
  • You must keep your waste transfer notes and hazardous waste consignment notes for at least 2 years and be able to produce them on demand to the Environment Agency or local authority.

A sample waste transfer note can be downloaded from the NetRegs website . You'll also find more information on What Needs to be Included on a waste transfer note.

Transporting Your Waste

If carrying your own waste to recycling facilities you should be appropriately registered with SEPA. This registration is free and the simple application form is available on the SEPA website

The Waste Hierarchy

You must apply the waste hierarchy to the management of your waste and promote ‘high quality’ recycling.

The waste Hierarchy sets out five steps for dealing with your waste, ranked according to environmental impact. This guidance is for any business or public body which generates, handles or treats waste.

The different options (in order of preference) are illustrated below:

REDUCE (most preferred)

Lower the amount of waste produced


Use materials repeatedly


Use materials to make new products/compost


Recover other value (e.g. energy/metals) from waste

DISPOSAL (least preferred)

Safe disposal of waste to landfill

Other waste issues to consider

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)

Your business may need to dispose of old waste electrical and electronic equipment, also known as WEEE. It can contain substances such as mercury, lead and cadmium, which can cause significant harm to human health and the environment.

The SEPA website will be help businesses to reduce, re-use and recycle the amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment going to landfill and fully comply with the WEEE Regulations.

Waste Oil

The Water Environment (Oil Storage) (Scotland) Regulations 2006 were issued to improve oil storage and thereby reduce the risk of pollution. ‘Oil’ refers to petrol, diesel, mineral oil, heating oil, lubricating oil, waste oil, vegetable oil or plant oil for more information visit the NetRegs website

Waste oil can cause blockages in drains and sewers. For information on how to prevent blockages visit Scottish Water’s Guidance Leaflets: Preventing pollution and blockages in commercial kitchens

Sanitary Waste

You must handle and dispose of any sanitary waste you produce safely. Sanitary waste includes used nappies, sanitary towels, tampons, incontinence pads, and condoms and you can find more information on the NetRegs website.


You can face penalties if you do not handle your waste appropriately or have the correct documentation proving it has been passed to a person authorised to accept and manage that type of waste. 

You could experience damage to your reputation, disruption to your business, or you could be prosecuted or fined.

Are you doing all you can to meet your legal waste requirements?

Should you require further information or advice regarding your waste or Duty of Care responsibilities, please contact us - details below. 

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Send enquiry to: Duty of Care Waste Team

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