Even once collected organisations are still liable for their waste

Come the spring time, many businesses clear out obsolete files so they can get on with new client work without cupboards and archive storerooms cluttering up. However, did you know you have a legal responsibility to ensure the waste if disposed of appropriately?

A Shropshire Star investigation has found 32,569 reports of waste being dumped illegally to councils across Shropshire, Staffordshire, the Black Country and Birmingham last year – a 16 per cent increase from 2015-16.

However, it’s not only members of the public who are disposing of their household waste in public areas, some unscrupulous waste businesses are collecting and dumping commercial trade waste illegally.

In February 2017 truckloads of trade waste was dumped near Madeley in Staffordshire. Villagers told the The Stoke Sentinel that the waste includes shredded paperwork from councils and the NHS in Cheshire. Whilst most of the paper was shredded one man said “there was council paperwork … and hospital waste”, to see the full report click here.

Shredded waste is illegally dumped near Stoke in Feb-17

Illegally dumped shredded waste near Stoke February 2017 (image from The Sentinel)

In March 2017 the Express and Star reported a farmer near Wolverhampton faced the cost of removing 100 tonnes of commercial waste that was illegally dumped on his land. Shredded paper, cardboard and possibly even medical rubbish had been partly processed and shredded before being left on the private land. The cost of removal was reportedly thousands of pounds. The Environment Agency were reportedly examining if it is linked with other large scale flytipping incidents in the west midlands region (for the full story click here).

Organised criminal gangs who offer to dispose of rubbish at knockdown prices are believed to be behind ‘industrial scale’ dumping seen in recent months. The Shropshire Star reported The Environment Agency said it is investigating some large waste sites in the West Midlands. It cost the region’s councils £1.8m to remove dumped waste last year and a further £580,000 to investigate offences.

The law requires every collector of waste to have waste carriers license? Using a company that doesn’t own a license, it is against the law. It is the waste creator’s responsibility to use a licensed company to dispose of their waste legally or to effectively dispose of the waste themselves. Failure to comply can mean the waste creator is prosecuted.

If you’d like to know what license to look out for, you can view our waste carriers license here.

So, if you’re disposing of waste it is your responsiblility to complete your own due diliggence on any contractor you engage. You must:

  • keep waste to a minimum by doing everything you reasonably can to prevent, reuse, recycle or recover waste (in that order)
  • sort and store waste safely and securely
  • complete a waste transfer note for each load of waste that leaves your premises
  • check if your waste carrier is registered to dispose of waste
  • not allow the waste carrier to dispose of your waste illegally (and report them to Crimestoppers if they do)

If you are diposing of confidential waste your responsibility, as a data cotroller, that the data contained in the waste never poses a security breach. If the data is is lost the data controller is liable.

Contact a member of the team if you would like to discuss the legal disposal of your confidential waste.

For more information view our Guide to Waste Disposal Legislation.