Environment is a big topic but in the context of business regulation we are primarily concerned with 3 key topics:

  • Waste – Management, disposal and recycling compliance
  • Pollution – Permits and avoidance and compliance
  • Nuisance – Arising from businesses receiving complaints through excessive noise, bright artificial light, vermin, litter, dust, smoke and odour

In addition to the business guidance we cover nuisance in the customer section of the website – where we seek to ensure citizens are aware of relevant regulation, circumstances and procedures where they may encounter nuisance. We would encourage all businesses to read this section in Customer in order to ensure they are not creating a nuisance or likely to be the subject of a complaint.

Note that this is not to encourage people to make complaints, rather to ensure that people are aware of what to do when a complaint is appropriate. 

Dealing with waste:

Once a substance or object has become waste, it will remain waste until it has been fully recovered and no longer poses a potential threat to the environment or human health. As a business, you have a legal responsibility to ensure that you produce, store, transport and dispose of your business waste without harming the environment

As a business you need to ensure that you meet any relevant duty of care that includes helping your customers to dispose of materials or packaging they purchase from you, that will become waste in time

Some important factors to consider are:

  • Store waste securely in clearly labelled containers, ensuring vandalism or weather cannot disperse the waste. If you are storing waste for others you may need an environmental permit
  • Ensure your waste is transported and handled by people or businesses that are authorised to do so. Ensure you complete waste transfer notes to document and describe all waste you transfer, and keep them as a record for at least 2 years
  • If your business carries out work at private households, any waste you produce is classed as business waste and you must treat it as such. This includes waste you collect when you deliver new items
  • If you use contractors who create waste on your site, it is good practice to check that your contractor is registered to take responsibility for the waste
  • A home based business must separate household and business waste, and keep appropriate business records as described above
  • Guidance on waste classification and hazardous waste noting that the imperatives of recycling apply equally to business as  household waste

Protection from pollution:

Protection from pollution to air, land and water is a key objective of authorities, and the care of the environment is also a duty for citizens and businesses. Many business activities are carefully regulated to ensure that they do not cause short or long-term damage to our environment.

Many businesses have realised that acting in a socially and environmentally responsible way is more than just a legal duty. It can affect your bottom line and the long-term success of your business

Some important factors to consider are:

  • Certain industrial processes require permits to operate. You can check if you need these permits and access guidance here
  • Ensure you read and fully understand conditions attached to any permit as failure to comply can lead to prosecution, Authorities may refuse permits where there is a poor track record of compliance
  • Monitor and actively reduce any air emissions/ carbon emissions from your business.
  • No liquid, other than uncontaminated rain water from your premises, should enter surface water drains or discharge to a watercourse or soak-away unless it is under the terms of an Environmental permit
  • The maintenance of a drain, including clearing blockages, remains the responsibility of the owner of the premises
  • Your local authority or specialist local businesses may be able to help you find effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint with actions like a travel plan, designed to reduce unnecessary travel for employees
  • Using energy saving equipment and technologies can often reduce your costs and sometime attract grants – check with your local growth hub

Links and Contacts:

Much of the information you need in relation to environmental compliance is available on-line through the Environment Agency or your Local Authority. To find your local authority follow this link and input the postcode of your business location (or headquarters in England), Then navigate to environment or waste services teams

Generic Waste Advice:

Environment Agency Phone: 03708 506 506

A range of guidance on waste is available here