Household - duty of care

Waste created at home is owned by the householder until collected by Southend-on-Sea City Council.

Fly-tipping has increased in recent years. To stop this, changes have been made to the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

All householders have a “duty of care” to follow. This means if their waste is passed to another:

  • person
  • business

then wrongly:

  • disposed of
  • fly-tipped

the householder may not be meeting their “duty of care”.

The new legal duty started because around two thirds of fly-tipping is household waste.

Often individual householders do not make sure their waste is passed to a legal waste disposal company. Instead, it is passed to dishonest businesses, often with illegal ways of disposing of the waste.

If you employ a company that illegally dumps or fly-tips your waste and the waste is traced back to you, you may, under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, get a £400 Fixed Penalty Notice.

Frequently asked questions

When was the new "duty of care" for householders introduced?

In early 2019 a new Waste "duty of care" Code of Practice was created.

This asks householders to make sure waste created in their home is only given to an authorised person (someone legally able to collect and dispose of waste) like:

  • a company registered to carry waste
  • a site with the right permit to accept waste for disposal

What is the householder’s "duty of care"?

The householder must take ‘reasonable steps’ to only give their waste to an authorised person or company.

These steps include asking them if:

  • the company is registered with the Environment Agency as a waste carrier
  • they can give you a copy of their waste carriers’ licence. If they do not have one, they are most likely working illegally
  • the company has insurance policies for transporting your waste
  • the company will give you waste transfer notes
  • these show the transfer of waste between different companies, and where your waste may end up
  • the company can give evidence of where your waste is disposed of
    Responsible companies can confirm and give a separate receipt for the disposal point of your waste

If you give a company mixed waste, find out how they separate hazardous materials from household waste.

Hazardous materials:

  • should never be mixed with general waste
  • usually needs specialist treatment and disposal

Hazardous items include:

  • fridges
  • TV’s
  • computer monitors
  • fluorescent lamp tubes

When would the householder fail their "duty of care"?

If fly-tipped waste is traced back to a householder after it was dumped by the:

  • company
  • person

who was employed to dispose of it, we will check if enforcement action is needed.


  • the householder cannot give us details of who took their waste
  • the person or business taking the waste turns out to be unauthorised

then it is reasonable to believe that their "duty of care", under section 34(2A) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, was not met.

These will usually lead to enforcement action:

  • When fly-tipped waste is traced back to an individual householder who failed to take ‘reasonable steps’ to make sure they gave the waste to an authorised person
  • Where an unauthorised waste carrier is carrying household waste that was given straight to them by the householder
  • Where a person is found to have given their household waste to an unauthorised person at a site that does not have a permit or is not allowed to accept the waste

What would the enforcement action be?

Depending on:

  • the seriousness of the fly-tipping case
  • if there are previous offences

the householder is usually given a £400 Fixed Penalty Notice rather than prosecution.

If I am asked to give details of the company that took my waste, do I have to give them?

We would rather prosecute the company or person that physically fly-tipped the waste.

If the householder:

  • cannot give information
  • refuses to give information

a £400 Fixed Penalty Notice may be given to them for failing to meet their "duty of care".

What happens if I give information about the person or company taking my waste?

We will usually contact the company to find how the householder’s waste became fly-tipped.

The person or company will usually be asked:

  • to explain where they dispose of their business waste (they must legally record this)
  • if they are a registered waste carrier

We will check to see if the company have had previous offences.

If the information given by the householder helps us find the business dealing with waste illegally, then we will usually focus on the company.

The householder will normally only get a £400 Fixed Penalty Notice, if there is:

  • poor quality information
  • no information given

which shows there is a failure to follow the "duty of care".

What happens if I get a Fixed Penalty Notice but do not pay it?

If you choose not to pay the Fixed Penalty Notice, your case will be given to our legal team for prosecution in Court.

Contact recycling and waste

Telephone: 01702 215006

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