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Valpak's Blog brings to you thought provoking articles, from key members of staff, on a wide range of environmental topics.

Cutting through the complexities of waste paperwork: what’s in a process?

Stephanie Haines
Feb 11, 2016

Since the removal of the Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations, the concept of Duty of Care, although embedded in a vast amount of waste legislation since, has become vague, misunderstood and potentially even forgotten – particularly within SME companies.

What are your duties as a waste producer?

In simple terms, Duty of Care for waste producing businesses comes down to the ability to answer with confidence, and demonstrate your means of meeting, the following three core questions:

    1. Do you have traceability for how and where your waste is being treated and recovered, or disposed?
    2. Is your waste paperwork up-to-date, and fully auditable?
    3. How do you ensure that you stay up-to-date with changing waste legislation?

As a producer, your compliance obligations don’t end with supplying data for what you have placed on the market, or contracting with a reliable waste service provider to take your waste away. The concept of ‘Duty of Care’ is a producer responsibility, enforceable by law. Fines levied by enforcement bodies for waste crimes in 2015 totalled in excess of £450,000 and additional powers and budgets are expected to assist in catching more perpetrators in 2016. Already this year, a firm was prosecuted £33,000 for exceeding the limits of their environmental permit and failing to meet their Duty of Care.

Anti-waste crime campaigns have a number of high profile backers this year, including the industry-led ‘Right Waste Right Place' campaign which will launch next month, and has the support of both CIWM and The ESA. We can expect a renewed focus on Duty of Care responsibilities and a greater media focus on offenders in 2016.

At Valpak, we understand that managing risk is paramount to the protection of your brand reputation. With a changing legislative environment and escalating waste costs, having sufficient processes for tracking, filing and staying ahead are paramount.

Ignorance isn’t an excuse, but ‘due diligence’ is a permissible defence

Demonstrating ‘due diligence’ requires an auditable document control procedure and a robust management process. Gaining ISO14001 certification is one way of working towards this, but you must ensure you have an internal process of systematic checks. The process that you employ doesn’t need to be complicated, just fit-for-purpose.

Put simply, due diligence for your waste is:

  • Knowing what environmental legislation affects your business. Have a process for staying up-to-date, responding to legislative changes promptly, and build a legal register specifically for your business. If you dismiss a regulation as not applying to your business, keep a record of your justification
  • Keeping organised and auditable files of third party licences and permits such as: waste transfer notes, consignment notes, waste carrier licences and facility permits for all third party contractors. Ensure these are up-to-date and easily accessible – for example store the files by date, site arising, and waste material so they can located quickly and easily on request
  • Maintaining up-to-date records of your own permits, licences and auditing activities, for example in relation to environmental permits, hazardous waste premises registration (up until April 2016), or any waste storage exemptions, and keeping track of the permissible limits for these. Undertake regular audits of your own site and third party provider sites, keeping records of your observations.

Still sound complicated?

Valpak are running a number of free workshops – find your nearest here

Would you prefer to follow an established management process which guides you step by step through your waste compliance requirements so you can easily identify and correct any gaps? Take a look at Valpak’s newest service which combines compliance assistance and waste management support in one, easy to follow, software package that puts you back in the driving seat. See our interactive online demonstration for more information.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this weblog represent those of the individual authors and not those of Valpak Limited or any other organisation.