The differences between household and commercial waste collections

If you’re new to running a business, you may have been surprised to learn that waste produced by your business cannot be dealt with in the same way that your household waste is. But why is this?

We take a look at the different ways that household and commercial waste is dealt with.

Household waste

Household waste is defined as “Solid waste comprising of rubbish (such as bottles, cans, clothing, compost, disposables, food packaging, food scraps, newspapers and magazines, and garden trimmings) that originates from private homes, and is also referred to as domestic or residential waste.

Dealing with your household waste is relatively simple. Local councils have a legal duty under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to collect your household waste, with the cost being incorporated into your yearly council tax charges. The council will (usually) provide you with two bins, one general waste and one for recycled waste. They are initially provided free of charge and are collected on a set schedule. You may also have a paid-for garden waste bin if required, and you will have free access to local waste and recycling centres. In addition to normal waste collections, your local council may also offer special collection services for bulky household goods which can be recycled or reused.

Local councils will advise you of your collection schedule, usually once a week or fortnight, and they may also provide a rough guide as to what material can go into your recycling bin. This will cover mixed recyclable objects. After this, it is your responsibility to sort waste as you see fit, although if you’re unlucky your council may be strict about the items that go into each bin, or if you put your bin out too early they may impose fines.

Business waste

Commercial or business waste, on the other hand, is defined as any waste produced from a commercial operation including waste from food, packaging, documents, works or repairs, alterations, construction, improvements or demolition.

Unlike household waste, your local council will not automatically collect your business waste for you. In fact, dealing with commercial waste is a lot more complicated to manage. It is law in the UK for business owners to take responsibility and manage their waste effectively.

For health and safety reasons your business waste must be stored in a way that does not obstruct employees or visitors to your premises, and it must be stored in suitable containers, especially if this waste is classed as hazardous waste (click here for tips about handling hazardous waste).

Business are also required by law to enter into a contract with a licenced waste carrier to collect and dispose of their waste, you will also need proof of this agreement when challenged. This is where the waste transfer note or Duty of Care documents are needed. The Duty of Care is the code of practice which describes practical guidance on how to meet your waste duty of care requirements. It is as part of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (section 34(7)). Failure to comply with the duty of care is an offence with no upper limit on the courts’ power to fine.

Importantly these requirements also need to be met if businesses are operated from the owner’s home. If you use part of your home to run your business, then any waste from that part is business waste. Sadly, there are examples of home/business owners being fined for accidentally disposing of their business waste in the wrong bin, for example, one unlucky small business owner was fined £600 for putting just one cardboard box in a household recycling bin! (Read more here)

Your business waste is also subject to excess weight limits, depending on the service you chose, you will need to adhere to limits or else face additional charges from your waste carrier. So, it’s important that when you begin your new contract with a waste provider that you choose the right collection schedule (once, twice or even three collections a week if you are generating a lot of waste), and you chose the right sized bin for your needs. Different sized containers are available, and we usually find that opting for a slightly large bin or more regular service can be more cost-effective than receiving the odd excess weight charge.

And that’s where we come in!

At CheaperWaste we want to take the “worry of waste” by providing simple, cost-effective waste management services to small businesses, contact us today for a free, no-obligation quote, and we’ll help you to deal with your business waste effectively.

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