It’s easy to forget about waste management. If your business’ byproducts and leftovers are being disposed of – brilliant, right? That’s all there is to it.

Wrong. Disposing of your waste through guesswork and hoping for the best is asking for trouble. It’s like playing Russian Roulette in reverse; five bullets, one empty chamber, and your business’ head at the end of the barrel.

Bullet 1: duty of care

Many businesses don’t think they’re responsible for their waste, especially if they’re outsourcing their waste management to a treatment facility. It’s easy to say “oh, we’re all right, we have people to deal with that” and route everything through a waste transfer site so you don?t get the blame if things go wrong.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. It’s an offence to deposit controlled waste outside the terms of a permit; it’s also an offence to knowingly cause or knowingly permit controlled waste to be deposited. As the original producer of the waste, you have a duty of care to see that it’s properly classified, stored, handled and – if no other option presents itself – disposed of.

Bullet 2: ignorance

“We didn’t know. We trusted our contractors. We thought they were professionals.” Let’s be frank: would you turn a blind eye on any other part of your business. Do you care about where your materials come from, how your recruitment agency vets your staff, how the couriers treat your goods? Of course you do. So why not care about your waste? If you use a treatment facility, follow the van; see where it goes and what happens to the contents.

Besides, ignorance doesn’t wash with the Environment Agency. Your waste is still your problem even if someone else is currently handling it: you have a duty to report your waste managers if you suspect they?re not following the rules. Stay informed about the running of your business – even the mucky bits.

Bullet 3: paperwork

The first thing you have to do is classify your waste: hazardous or non-hazardous? The regulations are different for each one. Find out what you have to do, and do it; take nothing for granted and leave nothing to chance.

Non-hazardous waste is fairly easy to wrangle: all you need is a waste transfer note, signed by yourself and your waste handling firm, for each load of waste that leaves your premises. Keep those for two years and you’re safe. Alternatively, you can transport your own waste and register as a carrier in your own right.

The importance of paperwork:
Check what you need to keep, and how long for.

Hazardous waste is trickier. If you produce more than 500 kg you have to register as a producer; even if you don?t, you have to separate and store what you produce separately from the non-hazardous stuff; you have to check that your handlers are licenced and your sites permitted; and you have to fill out a consignment note, in triplicate, for each load of waste and keep the notes for three years.

Bullet 4: reluctance

Too many businesses refrain from doing the obvious thing with their waste management – asking for help. The Environment Agency’s rules and penalties make it seem like an enforcer, something to be afraid of, and so people avoid its attention. This is the worst thing to do. Bite the bullet, make yourself known, and ask, “am I doing it right?” The same goes for waste management firms like Mayglothling: people are often so concerned about looking ignorant that they miss the best solution, which is, ask someone who does this for a living.

Bullet 5: lack of a plan

When the sanitary and hygiene waste hits the fan and you have an emergency on your hands, what’s the best thing to do? Grab the disaster folder (the one with all the drainage plans, storage tank sizes and contents, chemical names, emergency response contractors – details and a contact for the Environment Agency so you can keep it all above board) – or run around looking for all those details because you don?t have a disaster folder? (If you don’t, don’t worry – we can help you assemble one.)

And the empty chamber.. That one in six chance you have to not put a bullet through your figurative head? That’s us. If you’re in any doubt at all about your waste, contact us and we’ll show you how to do things the safe way.