For small business owners managing waste being produced is part of doing the business. It is important from responsible environmental policy perspective as well as from regulatory viewpoint. Having an effective waste management policy should not only be an essential component of how the company performs its tasks and projects, but also serve as a legal safeguard. Legislation is very tight regarding how companies dispose of their waste, and the penalties for failing to dispose of waste appropriately can be heavy. In this post we aim to provide general guidelines for effective waste management with small businesses in mind, with special focus on those that generate clinical detritus.
Your responsibilities with waste
Rubbish, scrap, leftovers, and off-cuts – whatever it’s called, it all comes under the definition of ‘waste’. Once items and materials have no further use to the company it is then their legal obligation – their duty of care – to ensure that it is appropriately disposed of. This includes clinical, commercial, construction, demolition and industrial waste.
It is your responsibility to ensure that this waste is stored appropriately until being handed over to a licensed waste disposal company. Liability is then placed into the hands of this company, but you are obliged to inform the authorities if you have cause to be believed that they are mismanaging your waste. Businesses in Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland should check their local authorities for any sub-clauses to these rules.
Effectively managing duty of care
The term is ambiguous because it needs to cover a vast range of potential issues with waste removal. As an operator, you will be expected to sort, securely store, adhere to transportation rules and have the appropriate permits for anything deemed hazardous. Not only this but you are obliged to make sure that the waste removal agency has up to date permits, and it’s advisable to keep copies of these.
When is waste really waste?
When there is no further use for it. This means that the materials have no further potential use, and then it is time to decide where the waste needs to go.
Ideally the materially will be recyclable in which case they need to be taken to a recovery plant. If not then they may be suitable for incineration or other power generation systems. Failing this it’s off to the landfill.