Trade Waste and Recycling

Commercial Waste and the Law

The Council can provide a range of waste and recycling collection services for your business including:

  • Various size wheeled bins tailored to your individual needs.
  • Recycling service for mixed, cardboard, glass, plastic (not soft plastic), cartons, foil and paper.
  • Pre paid sacks for customers with no rear entrance or space for container.
  • Extra collections available (chargeable).
  • Bin hire and Duty of Care certificate included in the six monthly cost.

If you would like to request a quote for commercial waste collection please call 01923 776611 or e mail  You may however use any other registered waste carrier.

Recycle Bins - Flats.jpg

Are you disposing of yours legally?

If you operate any form of business, you have a legal responsibility under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and other related legislation to safely contain and legally dispose of any waste produced from your business.

If you don’t, you can be taken to court as you are committing offences. Please note that your business rates do not include the cost of your business waste disposal.

The law also applies to anyone working from home such as garden clearances, packing, delivering, crèche or child minding, small businesses, offices, hairdressers, sun bed shops, second hand shops to name but a few. In fact it applies to all rubbish generated by anyone although there are a few exceptions for householders disposing of their own household waste (not anyone else’s).

Examples of waste

Anything whatsoever that is no longer required such as old mail, cleaning products, food eaten on your premises, cardboard, plastics, sweepings, damaged goods that cannot be returned, etc. This waste is known as commercial waste or business waste. The real name is ‘Controlled Waste’.

Disposal of waste

Option 1

Dispose of your own waste.

You must be able to provide documents called ‘Waste Transfer Notes’ or provide some form of receipts showing:-

  • Where you disposed of the waste (tip location)
  • How much of it there was (weight)
  • And when it was tipped (date) and what waste was tipped (type)
  • You may be able to take it to one of the Council’s Transfer Stations however; you are advised to contact them prior to visit to confirm this. You will be charged.

Option 2

Have someone else collect and dispose of it for you

  • They must be ‘licensed waste carriers’
  • You must have filled in a form commonly known as a ‘Duty of Care’ with your chosen contractor. You can check with the Environment Agency that your contractor is licensed. Alternatively you can contact Three Rivers District Council to arrange a Trade Waste Agreement.

You are committing offences and can be prosecuted if you give your waste to anyone who is not licensed to carry and dispose of controlled waste.

Does the ‘Duty of Care’ apply to me?

It applies to anyone who produces, stores, transports, treats and disposes of waste. This is detailed in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 Section 34. It means that you are responsible for storing and containing your waste to ensure it does not cause a nuisance to anyone or anything.

Electronic Duty Of Care

We are changing from paper to electronic Duty of Care.  

Waste Transfer Note.

You also have a responsibility to ensure that your waste is disposed of by an appropriate person or company who will provide documents to show this. This document is known as a Transfer Note. It is the record of waste 'transferring' from the person producing the waste to the carrier who will then collect and dispose of it correctly.

‘But my business does not produce any waste’

Many premises have small quantities of refuse and although it might not be much from one premise all of them together make a substantial amount which the council has to pay to dispose of and we are obliged to cover our costs.

Here is an example of what trade waste includes:

  • Post you get
  • Food your staff eats or drinks on the business premises
  • Damaged or scrapped items
  • Floor sweepings
  • Cleaning materials
  • Any other general waste

This is all classed as business or commercial waste, it is an offence to take it home and place it in your domestic bin, or take it to a household waste recycling centre or to dispose of it any other way except in accordance with the Duty of Care.

You will have to prove to the courts that you do not produce any waste whatsoever. You can recycle a lot of commercial waste but it still needs to be legally documented with your chosen contractor.

What do I need to do?

Make sure any waste you produce is safely stored in a suitable container. If waste is put in a bin or a skip, it needs to be closed and covered so the waste cannot escape or be interfered with. If it is put in your chosen contractor’s trade bins or bags, keep them contained and do not put them out until the time of your collection. Whoever collects your waste, make sure they have the authority to do so.

They must be registered with the Environment Agency.

If it’s a one off or non-regular collection, a waste transfer note must be completed.


If you are found to be disposing of your waste illegally you will be prosecuted. The maximum penalty is a fine of £50,000 and up to 12 months imprisonment in the Magistrates Court, 5 years imprisonment and unlimited fine at the Crown Court.

Please note: If your business is involved in human/animal health care or related research the types of waste you produce are clinical waste and needs to be disposed of differently.

Most Important

When someone finds YOUR waste fly tipped—can you prove that YOU haven’t dumped it there and that you have complied with all the requirements detailed above? If you can’t, YOU may be liable to a fine up to £50,000 and up to 5 years imprisonment.

Failure to produce authority (waste transfer notes) can result in a Fixed Penalty Notice of £300.00.

We are here to help prevent you committing offences

The main misconception is that once the trade waste has been put out by a business for collection, as far as some are concerned, the waste is no longer their problem. This is completely incorrect and all producers of waste have a legal responsibility and duty for their waste until it is collected by a legal waste carrier. Often bin lids are left wide open or unlocked, bins are damaged, and waste is left on the floor because the contractor failed to collect it. This is still your waste and you are liable for it. You must (by law) prevent the escape of waste by either yourselves or someone going through your waste, which is a common problem. You must ensure your bin is secured at all times. You must ensure you have the sufficient number of collections by your contractor to remove all of your waste and avoid it spilling out or to avoid your bin being overfilled.

Sufficient sizes of bins and collections.

We are empowered to inspect your current waste contract and arrangements to ensure you have proper storage, sufficient space for your waste and the correct amount of collections. More importantly, we will check your current waste removal practices to ensure that you are legally dealing with your trade waste. For further information on this and any other environmental legislation, visit or

What we are doing.

The Enforcement Team will be visiting or writing to businesses with the Three Rivers District Council area to inspect your waste arrangements under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. If you do not have proof of legal waste disposal/storage for your business waste, please act now before it is too late. The minimum our team can do if you are found without a legal means of waste disposal is to serve a legal notice upon you requiring you to do so or you may be prosecuted and fined up to £50,000 and up to 5 years imprisonment. Please be aware we can also require sight of documents relating to your waste disposal going back 2 years. We want to work with you to ensure your waste arrangements are legal. If you require further information regarding your trade waste please contact the Enforcement Team on 01923 776611 or visit DEFRA 

Why are we doing this?

We are taking firm but fair enforcement action on those that are causing a detriment to the environment. Our actions range from tackling litter offences up to more serious offences of illegal deposits of waste. We can’t do this without your help and commitment. It is in all our interest to ensure we have a clean, safe and attractive District for all. Living and working in an attractive area encourages economic growth and financial investment from which all of us can benefit. If we can help and you need further information on anything mentioned above, please contact the Environmental Enforcement team on 01923 776611.

If you think someone is acting illegally regarding waste contact the Environment Agency or our enforcement team as above.

Your Business, Your Rubbish (pdf)

Rubbish, Waste and RecyclingTrade Refuse and Recycling