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Your Role in the Waste Chain

Sep 5, 2023 | Waste Management

Throughout the different stages in the waste chain, the material can change hands several times before it is (hopefully) reused or recycled and given a new lease of life by being fed back into the circular economy. Construction accounts for more than 50% of the waste that is produced in Scotland, so it is vital that we ensure this waste is pushed as far up the waste hierarchy pyramid as possible. 

Taking responsibility and dealing with your waste may sound like a simple task, but the Duty of Care can often catch people out in the construction industry. This blog will outline the key responsibilities of those involved in the process to ensure the safe and correct disposal of construction waste.  


The Waste Process and Your Role 

The graphic below gives an overview of who is responsible at different points in the waste chain, and what their duties are assuming the waste is being transferred from the site of origin. It is vital that everyone is aware of their legal responsibilities as part of their Duty of Care. By complying with these duties, we can mitigate the risk of potential harm to public health, wildlife and the natural environment.

waste regs flowchart

The terms highlighted in the graphic above may come across as general titles, but these are roles with defined responsibilities:

Waste Producer – Anyone whose activities produces waste, or anyone who carries out pre-processing, mixing or other operations which result in the change in nature or composition of this waste. As a waste producer, you hold the biggest responsibility in describing the waste in detail. 

Waste Collector – Individuals/businesses can often be both the waste producer, and the waste collector. A waste collector is anyone who collects or transports waste, including those who operate waste collection services, such as collection contractors, local authorities and others. 

Waste Manager – Anyone responsible for the collection, transport, recovery and disposal of waste. This includes the supervision of these operations and the after-care on disposal sites. 

Another key role in the waste chain is a waste broker. They will arrange for other businesses’ waste to be handled, disposed of or recovered. This is regardless of whether or not the broker handles the waste themselves. 

For an in-depth overview of your obligations consult the Scottish Government’s ‘Duty of Care – A Code of Practice’ document: 

  • Waste Producer – pages 13-26. 
  • Waste Collector – pages 27-32, 35-40. 
  • Waste Manager – pages 40-47. 


Registrations and Licenses  

New Scottish regulations require those who regularly transport waste produced by their own business to be registered with SEPA as a professional collector or transporter of waste. If you transport your own construction or demolition waste, you must register as a waste carrier. Register here for both. 

If an external company or ‘authorised person’ is handling your waste, it is your responsibility to ensure that they hold the appropriate permit, registration or exemption. Producers of waste must check that the collector/transporter of the waste has a valid Waste Carrier Registration. A full list of registered waste carriers and brokers can be found here.  

Anyone who recycles, treats, stores, reprocesses or disposes of your waste must have one of the following: 


Waste Transfer Notes (WTN) 

For every load of waste that you either pass on or collect, you are required to complete a WTN 

This allows the regulator to understand the waste that is being generated, and the nature in which it is disposed of or recovered. The paper trail they create helps to display that a business has met the requirements of the Duty of Care. You need to keep copies of all your waste transfer notes for a minimum of two years, and they are a legal requirement for all transfers of waste. WTNs are likely to transition to a more digital format in the coming years, with digital waste tracking soon to be made mandatory. 

A WTN is to be filled out when dealing with non-hazardous waste, while a consignment note is to be completed when dealing with hazardous waste. 


Managing waste appropriately is crucial. Scotland has ambitious waste targets and if we are to meet them, we need every industry to commit. Additionally, if people continue to mishandle waste, fly-tipping and unauthorized burning of waste will become more commonplace, damaging land and putting public health and wildlife in danger.  

We’re committed to supporting our customers with their waste regulations queries and our team are happy to signpost you to the right information. If you’re looking for more in-depth information about all things waste related, Albion Environmental are experts within the UK and can offer detailed advice and training.