Defra consults on Waste Duty of Care Code of Practice

Defra consults on Waste Duty of Care Code of Practice

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) is calling on members of the waste industry to respond to a consultation on its revised Waste Duty of Care Code of Practice.

First published in 1996 to give ‘simple, clear and practical guidance on what those who import, produce, carry, keep, treat or dispose of controlled waste have to do to fulfil their legal duty of care obligations’, the code of practice applies to anyone who is a holder of household, industrial and commercial waste.

It is now being revised in England and Wales to reflect a number of legislative changes relating to duty of care. These include:

  • requirements for waste holders to take ‘all reasonable measures’ to apply the European Commission’s waste hierarchy ‘as a priority order’ when waste is transferred to another person, and declaring that this duty as been complied with on waste transfer information or hazardous waste consignment notes;
  • requirements for waste handers to characterise landfill waste in accordance with the Landfill Directive and the pursuant European Council Decision 2003/33/EC, which established criteria and procedures for the acceptance of waste at landfills, so that waste management operators fully understand the nature of wastes they are receiving;
  • the ability of those who transfer and handle waste to record waste transfer information on alternative documents such as invoices, orders or receipts or electronically, for example through the electronic duty of care system (edoc); and
  • requirements for waste producers (e.g. householders) to have their waste handled by an authorised person.

However, Defra has highlighted that it is just the code of practice that is being updated, and that there are no plans to amend the duty of care itself. As such, it states that the revised guidance will have no new impact on businesses.

Instead, it says it hopes the revised code will:

  • explain the legislative requirements of the duty of care, and make clear who and what they apply to;
  • provide guidance so that each user understands how to demonstrate compliance with the duty of care and prevent unauthorised or harmful deposit, treatment, or disposal of waste;
  • provide a ‘single and consistent’ point of reference for all waste holders (instead of for each type of waste holder) to avoid duplication of material; and
  • signpost other legislative requirements that apply to the management of waste and must be complied with alongside the duty of care in particular circumstances.

The consultation on the revised Waste Duty of Care Code of Practice runs until 21 September 2015.

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