Ben Brading 3 min read

What is classed as commercial waste?

‘Commercial waste’ is a common phrase in the waste industry, so much so that we’ve incorporated it into the name of our company.

A lot of people are confused about what is classified as commercial waste and why it matters. The primary importance is:

💡 Producers of commercial waste include individuals, businesses, charities, and other organisations.

Let’s delve into the precise definitions of household and commercial waste:

Household waste definition

The local “waste collection authority” (district, metropolitan, city council, or unitary authority) must collect “household waste” under section 45 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Household waste collection provided by the local council is free, where household waste is produced from:

  • A building or self-contained part of a building which is used wholly for the purposes of living accommodation
  • University or school student accommodation
  • Garages smaller than 25 square meters
  • Boats, caravans and other vessels used for accommodation
  • Places of worship
  • Charity shops focusing on goods generated from domestic properties.

Except for the following, which local councils must collect but levy a charge:

  • Articles of waste exceeding 25kg
  • Articles that don’t fit into the council’s bins
  • Garden waste (although some councils do this for free, others don’t)
  • Waste oil and grease.
  • Asbestos

Source: The Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 – Schedule 1

Commercial waste definition

Local councils do not provide a free waste collection service for commercial waste.

Commercial waste is produced by any trade or business or for the purposes of sport, recreation, or entertainment and includes waste from:

  • Premises occupied by a charity
  • Campsites
  • Royal palaces
  • Premises of clubs, societies, or associations.
  • Courts, government departments, and local authorities.
  • Hotels
  • Markets and fairs
  • Tradesperson waste working on the construction or renovation of homes.
  • Townhalls and buildings used for public meetings
  • Charity shop waste
  • Care homes/residential homes
  • Agriculture
  • Demolition
  • Construction

💡Most councils in the UK offer a paid commercial waste collection service, which includes general business waste and common types of recycling. Visit our locations page to see the service offered by your local council.

Quickly compare commercial waste quotes from trusted providers in your area. We’ll help you find the cheapest deal.

Source: The Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 – Schedule 1

Is there a duty of care the same for domestic and commercial waste?

No, the duty of care related to waste produced by domestic properties specifically applies to householders and is limited to ensuring that waste is transferred to an authorised person.

This typically involves placing waste in council-provided bins, which are then collected free of charge.

The duty of care regulations extends to businesses’ handling household, commercial, and industrial waste. For instance, a boatyard that manages household waste produced by moored boats must still adhere to all obligations under the duty of care regulations.

How does commercial waste differ from industrial waste?

Under the Environmental Protection Act, both commercial and industrial waste are classified as “Controlled Wastes”.

Producers of both types of waste have a legal duty of care concerning the waste they generate.

The primary distinction with industrial waste is the stricter regulations imposed on its handling, treatment, and disposal, owing to higher environmental and health risks.

Industrial waste includes:

  • Construction and demolition waste
  • Factory waste
  • Transport
  • Utilities
  • Telecommunications
  • Mining
  • Laboratory waste
  • Hazardous waste
  • Agricultural waste

💡Did you know? Demolition and construction waste can be categorised as both commercial and industrial waste. Small-scale projects like shop renovations are considered commercial waste. In contrast, large-scale construction or demolition projects are classified as industrial waste due to the greater environmental impacts and stricter regulations.

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