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

You must ensure that you store, transfer, transport and dispose of your business waste without harming the environment. This is called ‘duty of care’.

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

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

Storing Your Waste

You must store your business 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 waste contractor. It is not acceptable to dispose of your business waste in a domestic waste bin or public litter bin or use your local recycling centre.

Check whoever collects your waste is registered with SEPA and your waste is going to an authorised facility.


Recycling regulations require all businesses to separate recyclable materials from the rest of their waste for collection.

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. The 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

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

Useful Links

Contact the Duty of Care Waste Team