Waste Duty of Care regulations: Evaluation of enforcement strategies by local authorities in England

Peter McNeill, Ryan Woodard, Michael Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In England Duty of Care legislation requires businesses to ensure the waste they generate is managed in a responsible way protecting both human health and the environment. Businesses usually comply with Duty of Care by paying a service provider, authorised by the Environment Agency, to collect their waste. Non-compliance with Duty of Care could mean businesses are illegally dumping waste or using household waste services which is prohibited. Under Duty of Care, waste is tracked using Waste Transfer Notes which record important information on the waste collected including its source, quantity, composition and who collected it. Historically the system
was paper based but in 2014 an electronic version - Electronic Duty of Care (EDOC) – was launched which aimed to lead to a more efficient system for tracking waste. In England whilst the Environment Agency is the regulatory body for the environment, enforcement of Duty of Care is conducted at a localised level by local authorities. There is an absence of peer-reviewed research understanding the enforcement strategies being adopted by local authorities to enforce Duty of Care in England, or similar regulations in other jurisdictions. This paper presents the results of collecting primary data from 267 local authorities in England (83.7% of the total) to analyse the waste collection services they offer to businesses, approach to enforcement of Duty of Care and use of EDOC. The results show an inconsistent approach across England with 49% of local authorities not offering any collection services to businesses, and 12% of local authorities not enforcing Duty of Care at all. There was variation in enforcement approaches including protocols, resourcing and issuing of Fixed Penalty Notices. There was low uptake in EDOC with only 2.5% of local authorities operating a business waste service using the system. Barriers to uptake included local authorities already operating their own system, business customers unable to manage the EDOC system, lack of internal resources, and preference for hard copies. The research highlights the need for a more consistent approach to tackle waste crime and improve resource flows as we strive to move towards a waste system based on Circular Economy principles.
Original languageEnglish
Article number127654
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2021


  • Commercial & industrial waste
  • Circular economy
  • Duty of care
  • Waste policy
  • Recycling
  • Enforcement


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