Project to raise duty of care compliance launches

A new campaign aims to raise businesses awareness about the duty of care legislation for waste, after research found that 56 per cent of UK businesses are not complying with it.

The ‘Right Waste, Right Place’ campaign, launched today (12 April) by the Environmental Services Association (ESA) with support from the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), the Environment Agency (EA) and other organisations, is primarily aimed at informing smaller businesses about the law and their obligations, as ESA research suggests that 94 per cent of non-compliant organisations are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The launch forms part of CIWM’s year-long campaign against waste crime. The first phase, led by the ESA, received £95,000 from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) through the Environment Agency (EA), and today’s launch involved an interactive website going live.

The ESA has found that the lack of compliance has contributed to the growing problem of waste crime, particularly with regard to fly-tipping, as the number of recorded incidents rose to 900,000 in England during 2014/15. This represented an 11 per cent increase from the previous year, and cost local authorities at least £50 million in cleanup costs.

Commercial waste was found to be the second largest component of fly-tipping, and had risen by 18 per cent over the year, according to the ESA research.

Most non-compliant organisations are ‘simply not informed’

Sam Corp, Head of Regulation at the ESA, commented: “The number of organisations actively involved with this project, representing a broad range of sectors, shows just how serious an issue duty of care compliance is.

“Very few organisations want to actively flout the law, but most are simply not informed about what they have to do. Unfortunately being uninformed is no protection from the law, and we believe that more companies will find themselves exposed to prosecution unless they take the right steps to comply.”

The ESA claims that 90 per cent of non-compliant businesses, when informed about their obligation under duty of care, expressed an aspiration to comply.

Steve Lee, CEO of CIWM said: “The waste duty of care is a fundamental tool in responsible waste management and prevention of waste crime.

“Despite its presence at the heart of this industry for more than a quarter of a century, it is still poorly understood and poorly used by many businesses, and this project aims to fill an information and advice gap complementary to the new Duty of Care Code of Practices, released by Defra last month.

“Armed with simple advice CIWM believes businesses of all sizes and kinds can work better with their waste managers to control their costs, protect people and the environment and avoid prosecution for failure to control wastes.”

The interactive website that has been developed as a part of the campaign, which was ‘designed to be easy to use, convenient and pragmatic’. According to the ESA, the website will ‘contain essential information to help establishments and businesses comply’, as well as acting ‘as a simple portal to a wide range of other information and services for those with more sector-specific enquiries’.

The campaign will also use a number of initiatives to help increase awareness, many of which will utilise social media to reflect the way a lot of smaller businesses now source information.

In addition to CIWM and the EA, the campaign is supported by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Build UK, The National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Veolia, Travis Perkins, URoC, SUEZ and The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC).

More information can be found at the interactive ‘Right Waste, Right Place’ campaign website.