Commercial waste advice

Commercial waste is any waste produced by a business on its premises. This may consist of waste paper, employee’s food waste and other waste produced as a result of the service you provide.

Commercial waste may also be referred to as business waste or trade waste.

Every business has a legal duty to be responsible when storing and disposing of their waste.

Business responsibilities are set out under Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. It states that you must:

  • only allow an authorised person to dispose of your waste
  • keep a written record of the waste taken by the waste disposal company – these waste transfer notes must be kept for at least two years
  • must not take commercial waste home to be disposed of

Businesses that produce any hazardous waste type must store it securely and separately from other waste types. You must only transfer hazardous waste to a person authorised to collect and dispose of it safely.  

How to dispose of your commercial waste?

Disposing of your own waste

Businesses can pay to dispose of waste by transferring it to a commercial waste recycling centre. Once accepted, they will be provided with a Waste Transfer Notes (receipt) for the waste. Waste Transfer Notes must be kept for a 2-year period.

Businesses should be aware that to transport any amount of waste, a Waste Carriers License issued by the Environment Agency is required, and it is an offence to carry waste without a license.

Waste removal contractors

Businesses can enter into a contract with a registered waste removal company to collect their commercial waste. Contracts can cover various sized refuse and recycling bins or sack collections and can be as frequent as the business requires. As part of the contract, businesses must consider that:

  • Commercial waste must fit within the branded bin or refuse sack provided by your licensed waste removal contractor.
  • Your bin/container must not overflow; rubbish must not overhang, and be stacked on top of or beside the bin/container.
  • Your presented waste should not cause a problem, obstruction, or be harmful to the local amenity.
  • The bin/container should not be placed or stored on the Public Highway other than the time(s) and day(s) specified for collection.
  • If your waste removal contractor fails to collect the waste, it is your responsibility to remove it (i.e. remove the sacks or push the bin back onto your property) from the Public Highway until the waste contractor can return.
  • Failure to comply with the above may result in a Fixed Penalty Notice being issued, or Court proceedings.

Check the company’s Waste Carriers License on the Environment Agency’s public register.

Reading Borough Council has a trade team that can collect commercial waste. This is separate to the standard household waste collection service.

Duty of care waste transfer notice

Reading Borough Council are authorised under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to request evidence from businesses on how their commercial waste is disposed of. Businesses should be able to supply this when required, and it is recommended that contracts or Waste Transfer Notes are kept on the premises.

Should a business not be able to produce this when requested, a Notice may be served to supply the required documents within 7 days. Should a valid contract or Waste Transfer Notes not be held, or the documents not be provided in accordance with the Notice, a £300 Fixed Penalty Notice may be issued.

Section 47 notice

If commercial waste removal arrangements are found to be inadequate, we will serve a Section 47 Notice. A Section 47 notice is a legal notice issued under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. They are issued to businesses who fail to comply with their commercial waste duty of care. The Notice sets out instructions on how to store, dispose and present commercial waste for collection. The Notice will specify the number and type of waste containers required, along with the recommended frequency of waste collections needed to resolve the issue. A section 47 notice can be served on a business if:

  • waste is not suitably contained or secured
  • waste is passed to unauthorised persons
  • waste receptacles are stored and/or presented in the wrong location

If this notice is not adhered to a fixed penalty notice may be issued.

Our Recycling and Enforcement Team offer advice on how best to dispose of business waste in your area.

Commercial waste advice enquiry form

Last updated on 15/02/2024