Large bales of commercial waste

Do you need a waste carriers licence?

9 January 2015

As of January 2014, the law changed for the carriage of waste. If you should register for a waste carriers licence but don’t, you could be fined up to £5,000.

It’s long been known that waste can damage the environment and impact human health if it’s not properly managed. In 2014, changes to the law relating to businesses carrying waste aim to further protect the environment and discourage fly-tipping.

The regulations on the carriage of waste mean that anyone transporting waste as part of their normal business (whether it’s their waste or someone else’s) has to register for a Waste Carriers Licence. This includes contractors like carpet fitters carrying old carpet, plumbers carrying old sinks, landscape gardeners carrying shrubs or trees and builders carrying rubble and plaster.

And you don’t have to have produced the waste to need a licence. Being contracted by an individual to demolish an outbuilding and remove the waste still means that you have to register.

There are two tiers of registration, based on your organisation type and the type of waste you deal with.  The lower tier is free and typically covers businesses which transport waste that they have generated from a job that they have done. All other carriers need to register for the upper tier, which costs £154 (VAT exempt) for three years, and then £105 (VAT exempt) for the next three years.

Register for a licence here.

In August 2018, a high profile story was published by a number of news outlets about a roofer who was fined £300 for carrying a plastic bag with empty crisps packets in his van. The story explains that the man was stopped by council workers in Chingford, North East London, and was issued a fine for carrying the bag full of rubbish. The roofer was penalised because he failed to produce a waste carrier licence. The council explained that a licence is required for carrying such waste, and is good practice for tradesmen to have, in case they carry any waste away from any of their operations. The maximum fine is £5,000 if you are required to register for a waste carriers licence but fail to do so.
The law was introduced with the aim to reduce the estimated £36.4m that local authorities in England had to spend on clearing up after fly-tippers in 2012/13, but do the statistics show an impact?


Trends in the number of fly-tipping incidents in England, 2007/08 to 2016/17

In 2014/2015, the government estimated that they spent nearly £50m on cleaning up after flytippers with roughly 900,000 individual incidents being found and 494,000 incidents of fly tipping being dealt with. In the 2016/17 report from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the cost of cleaning up waste from flytipping had risen to £57.7m with 1,002,000 recorded incidents, with only 474,000 of these incidents being enforced.  These findings show that the number of incidents has increased, with the number being dealt with decreasing.

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