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5 tips for choosing the right waste management contractor

By 15th November 2016 Blog, CSR, Sustainability No Comments

When you’re thinking about appointing a waste management contractor to take your business waste away for you, there are some important things to consider. Use these 5 tips to help you choose the right company for you.

How hard can it be? It’s not exactly rocket science is it? They just need to be (1) cheap and (2) able to take our waste away when we need them to, right?


Here are our top 5 tips for choosing the right waste management contractor if you want to get serious about sustainability and CSR.

1. Define and describe your own waste

The first thing you need to do is be clear about the waste you want someone to handle for you. If you’re the producer or current ‘holder’ of the waste, you have a legal requirement to describe it fully and accurately so that the next holder in the chain-of-custody understands what it is they are going to be dealing with so that they can make the right decisions about how to manage it safely. Never let your waste management contractor describe your waste for you.

2. Make sure they have the right capabilities

If you produce liquid wastes that need to be transported in leakproof containers or even road tankers, it goes without saying that there’s no point asking a skip hire company to collect if for you. However, you need to also make sure that they have the right capabilities more broadly – if your waste requires collection 7 days a week, you need to make sure that the site you’re going to send it to can receive it every day of the week, and not all of them will. You also need to check that they are appropriately authorised to handle your waste…

3. Check their credentials

…so be sure to do sufficient due-diligence on them.

If you’re asking a company to collect and transport your waste for you, make sure that they are registered with the relevant environmental regulator as a Carrier of controlled waste – you can do this by first asking them to produce their Registered Carrier Certificate and then checking it is valid by either telephoning the environmental regulator where their business is located (The Environment Agency in England, Natural Resources Wales, The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, or the Northern Ireland Environment Agency) or you can perform an online check where available. You should also check that they have a relevant Operator’s Licence (as a road haulier) and Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) holder and, if transporting hazardous waste that is dangerous for road transport purposes, that their drivers are suitably qualified (ADR trained) and that the company employs a Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser (DGSA).

If you’re asking a company to receive your waste, they need a waste management licence, environmental permit or relevant exemption. Ask for a copy, but make sure you ask for it all and not just the front page that details the site and operator’s name and authorisation number – then check that your waste features in the List of Approved Wastes that the licence or permit authorises for deposit (which is why it’s important to start out by defining and describing your waste). Check the days and times that the site is allowed to receive waste too, particularly if you know you’ll need 24/7 availability. And then check the validity by again either telephoning the relevant environmental regulator or you can perform an online check where available. You should also check that they have a Certificate of Technical Competence (CoTC) holder.

4. Go local > regional > national

In order to cut down on unnecessary transport journeys and keep ‘waste miles’ to a minimum, you should seek to ensure that your waste is dealt with as close as possible to its point of origin. Where this is not possible – for instance, in situations where no appropriate facilities exist in the local area – you should seek to preferentially select sites based on proximity, favouring those that are closer. This will help to reduce your overall environmental footprint by cutting down on transport pollution.

5. Work with independent SMEs

If you want to maximise the economic and social value of your operations in the community where you’re based, then it’s important that you choose to work with small, independent companies wherever possible. For a start, more of the money you spend is likely to remain within the local economy, and you’ll be supporting employment for people living nearby – in fact, small companies are much more likely to have to take on and train new people in order to satisfy increased demand for their services, whereas larger waste management contractors that operate nationally will find it easier to absorb extra work without creating jobs.

And cost?

“What about cost?” you ask. Well, of course, that’s an important factor and, in some cases, will admittedly have to feature more prominently in your decision-making. But follow these five pieces of advice and you’ll find that they help you to secure the best overall value:

Firstly, your waste operations will be compliant, avoiding the risk of enforcement action and the prospect of prosecution, which can be expensive.

Secondly, by keeping it as local as possible, you’ll keep your transport costs to a minimum too.

And, thirdly, you’re likely to find that those small independent companies have flatter management structures and lower overheads that they can pass on in the form of savings. They’ll also be more nimble and able to react when you need them to, avoiding what could be costly delays. And if you make them feel valued and involved, they’re sure to share ideas for continuous improvements that help you save even more.

Got any tips of your own you’d like to share? Please do – we’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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