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In the contemporary business landscape, the question of corporate legal responsibility to recycle extends beyond profitability and operational efficiency. As sustainability becomes a focal point for businesses worldwide, the issue of recycling takes centre stage. 

In this article, we explore the obligations that businesses have to dispose of commercial waste responsibly, the impact it has on the environment, and the legal ramifications of failing to adhere to the UK government’s policies.

Read on to ensure your business is compliant and protected.

Unisan's Recycling Bin Stations


What Counts as Business Waste?

Before we dive into your legal responsibilities as a business owner, it’s crucial to recognise what constitutes business waste. Under UK law, “any waste that comes from a commercial activity is business waste”. This includes waste generated from construction, demolition, industry, and agriculture activities. Note that the government also specifies if you use part of your home to run your business then any waste from that part is business waste.


Legal Framework

The United Kingdom has made significant strides in establishing a comprehensive legal framework to address environmental issues, including recycling. Namely, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 outlines the duty of care businesses have towards waste management. According to this legislation, businesses are required to ensure that their waste is appropriately handled, treated, and disposed of.

The website outlines the responsibilities that businesses have when disposing of commercial waste.


Keeping Waste to a Minimum

One of the key responsibilities business owners have is to follow the waste hierarchy, a system that prioritises waste management strategies based on their environmental impact (see image below.)

This means keeping waste to a minimum by doing everything you reasonably can to prevent, reuse, recycle or recover waste (in that order). 


Sorting & Storing Waste Safely & Securely

This involves storing waste in a secure location, utilising suitable containers to prevent leakage, clearly labelling containers to indicate the type of waste, and employing covers to prevent waste from escaping or being carried away by the wind. In cases where hazardous waste is involved, businesses carry additional responsibilities.

The guidance also highlights the need to store different types of waste separately. This separation is essential to prevent contamination, facilitate easier reuse of materials, and ensure accurate completion of the waste transfer note.

The easiest and most efficient way to sort and collect your waste internally in line with government guidance is with appropriate recycling stations. For example, Unisort Aspire Recycling Stations are a stylish, customisable solution, perfect for offices, break out spaces, canteens, meeting spaces etc. The recycling stations are clearly labelled, with a variety of finishes (including fully branded options) tailored to suit your workplace’s needs.

Aspire Recycling Stations come fully equipped with the Mini liner solution, keeping waste separate and uncontaminated while saving plastic and reducing carbon footprint. 

Need to protect waste from the elements and prevent it from being carried away by the wind? Our outdoor recycling bins & solutions have endured rigorous testing to ensure they withstand heavy usage and UK weather conditions!! Whilst making recycling easy and engaging for users when on the move.


Other Key Obligations

In addition to reducing and properly sorting waste, businesses must complete a waste transfer note for each load of waste that leaves their premises. These must be printed, signed and kept for at least 2 years ready to show enforcement officers from your local council or the Environment Agency if asked. 

Finally, you must make sure that your waste carrier is compliant with the law. They must be registered to dispose of waste, and you must not allow the waste carrier to dispose of your waste illegally. If they do the latter, you must report them to Crimestoppers.


In conclusion, the legal responsibility for businesses to recycle is unequivocal within the UK’s regulatory framework. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 and associated guidelines establish a clear duty of care for businesses regarding waste management. By adhering to the waste hierarchy, minimising waste, and employing secure recycling solutions, businesses not only ensure compliance but also contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious business landscape.

Ready to Take the Next Step in Responsible Waste Management? Explore Our Range of Recycling and Waste Solutions Today!

At Unisan, we understand the importance of sustainable business practices. Ensure your compliance with the UK’s waste management regulations while contributing to a greener future. Explore our innovative recycling and waste solutions.