Kathryn Gilbertson

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Lorna Carter

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Taking more responsibility for your construction waste

Construction / 16 April 2021

The Environment Agency is urging construction firms to take responsibility for their waste to limit the disruption to the environment, including a focus on knowing where your rubbish is taken.  Whilst many of the medium and large contractors already have a firm grip on this, there may be others including domestic builders who do not, potentially due to cost concerns or simply being unscrupulous. Either way, it is important to understand your duties and know what is happening within your supply chain to avoid reputational damage.

It is critical that waste is not mishandled due to the hazardous materials that may be present in some construction waste such as asbestos, lead, etc.  A significant proportion of construction waste can be recycled and reused, where this is not possible than different waste streams must be disposed of at licensed waste disposal sites.

Over the past year, the Environment Agency has taken action against those illegally collecting and dumping significant waste originating from builders. The Environment Agency continues to focus on waste disposal and is now calling on all construction and demolition sites that produce, transport, treat or dispose of waste to fulfil their duty of care. Common issues relating to construction waste include:

—   Skip businesses collecting waste, charging for their services but illegally dumping it.

—  Career criminals burning and burying waste – we wrote about waste crime earlier this year.

—  Injuries to employees/ third parties during collection and disposal of waste.

Malcolm Lythgo, Head of Waste Regulation at the Environment Agency has warned that they will‘ take action against people who don’t follow their duty of care and so harm people and the environment.’  He is also strongly urging ‘…all builders to do the right thing and take full responsibility for their waste to limit the disruption to the environment as much as possible. You should know who is taking your waste and where it is going.’

What are your legal duties?
Builders have a legal responsibility to ensure they send their site waste via compliant waste collectors to a licensed landfill site or recycling facility. Getting it wrong could cost you a fine of up to £50,000. You must use a registered waste carrier to collect, recycle or dispose of your waste. You should also accurately describe your waste. This will involve training your staff to correctly complete and retain the waste transfer notes.

Our highly experienced Regulatory and Construction teams can help guide you through your legal duties when it comes to waste management as well as having a positive impact on the environment. If you would like to know more, please get in touch.


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This update is for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek legal advice before relying on its content. This update relates to the prevailing circumstances at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments. If you have general queries about our updates, please email: mailinglists@greenwoodsgrm.co.uk

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