Using a private waste collection contractor

Everybody who produces household waste has a duty of care. This duty means you have to take reasonable measures to ensure that you only give your waste to someone who is authorised to take it.

Local authorities, and private contractors who have a waste carriers licence, are authorised to take your waste.

Why does my contractor have to be licensed?

If an unauthorised person takes your waste, it could be fly-tipped. If your waste is found fly-tipped you must be able to provide evidence to the Police or the Local Authority of who you gave it to. If you cannot provide this information, you run the risk of a £5,000 fine and a criminal record.

Advice on using a private contractor

1. Legitimate waste disposal is not cheap. If someone is significantly cheaper than a legitimate, well known, waste carrier you should be suspicious. Always consider getting several quotes for waste disposal. Ensure that you compare prices with a known legitimate waste disposal contractor as many illegal waste carriers take several adverts out in newspapers and directories under different names.

2. Avoid cold calls and promises to take your waste there and then. A large amount of the fly-tipping of business and household waste originates from people who give their waste to “a man in a van” who called unexpectedly. How professional and legitimate can a waste disposal operation be where the carrier doesn’t employ a professional representative, but drives around touting for business?

3. Background checks. Ask for evidence of the Carrier’s business address. If it’s local you may want to check that the address actually exists, rogue traders often give out false or non existent addresses making it very difficult to trace them at a later date. If an address doesn’t check out report this information to the Environment Agency or to our Street Scene Enforcement Team.

4. Mobile telephone numbers. Think carefully before dealing with people whose only method of contact is via a mobile telephone number. A pay-as-you-go mobile phone can be discarded very easily and there is little way of tracing the user.

5. Size doesn’t matter! A large advert in a newspaper or telephone directory is no guarantee that the person you are dealing with is legitimate. No matter how big the advert or bold their statement of reliability is – check them out.

6. Ask questions. You have a Duty of Care to take reasonable steps to prevent someone else dumping your waste unlawfully. Always ask a carrier what exactly is going to happen to your waste and seek evidence that it is going to be disposed of appropriately. Be wary of vague or contradictory answers. To be extra sure, ask to see copies of the permits for the disposal sites. If in doubt contact the Environment Agency for further advice.

7. Demand to see a Waste Carrier’s certificate. Waste Carriers should be registered and have a certificate to prove it. This certification lasts for 3 years, but can be revoked if the carrier is convicted of an offence like fly tipping. You can check whether a company has a waste carrier's licence on the Environment Agency website.

8. Record vehicle registrations. Always record the registration number of a vehicle used to take your waste away. If waste is found fly-tipped and traced back to you, investigators will have more information with which to trace the culprits. The waste carrier may be less likely to illegally dump your waste if he is aware that his vehicle registration and details has been recorded and that he can be traced. A simple description of the vehicle can also be useful to investigators.

9. Paying the bills. Try to avoid cash in hand deals. Demand properly invoiced or receipted transactions. For larger and regular contracts you may wish to seek evidence that the waste was disposed of in a legitimate manner before you pay the bill.

Professional waste carriers are aware of the Duty of Care and should be keen to help you satisfy the requirements. If you are at all suspicious about a carrier and your checks do not satisfy your suspicions do not do business with them and consider reporting them to the Environment Agency. The Duty of Care is an important means of helping to prevent waste crime - if you fail to make reasonable checks on your waste carrier you could be liable to a £5,000 fine.

Contact the Environment Agency for more information.

Updated: 19 August 2014