Environmental responsibilities

Comply with key environmental legislation

There is a range of environmental rules your business may have to follow:

  • Comply with legislation regarding emissions into the air. See our guide on preventing air pollution.
  • Store waste safely and securely, make sure it is treated appropriately, ensure it is collected by an authorised organisation (such as your local authority or a licensed private waste contractor) and complete a waste transfer note or consignment note when waste is handed over. Read our guide on duty of care - your waste responsibilities.
  • Ensure you do not cause a statutory nuisance which could affect someone's health or annoy your neighbours. This covers things like producing noise, smoke, fumes, gases, dust, odour, light pollution or accumulating rubbish. Read our guide on noise, odour and other nuisances.
  • Get permission from your water company before you allow trade effluent such as waste chemicals, detergents, cooling or cleaning water to enter the sewerage system. Read our guide on discharging trade effluent.
  • Register with the Environment Agency, Northern Ireland Environment Agency or Scottish Environment Protection Agency, or join an approved compliance scheme if you handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging and have a turnover of more than £2 million. You must then provide evidence that you're recovering and recycling a set amount of packaging waste. Read our guide on packaging and packaging waste - your environmental responsibilities.
  • Make sure that you comply with restrictions on the storage and use of hazardous substances. Ensure that any hazardous waste your business produces is correctly classified and described, and is either disposed of or recovered at an appropriately authorised facility. Read our guides on hazardous substances and the environment - the basics and managing your hazardous waste.
  • Notify the relevant enforcing authority and take steps to prevent the damage if your business activities pose an imminent threat to the environment. If your business activities cause actual environmental damage, you must take remedial action to repair the damage. See the page in this guide on how to prevent and remedy pollution incidents.

There are also specific environmental rules covering a wide range of businesses - from construction and electronics to textiles and chemicals manufacture. You can check what environmental legislation applies to your business on the NetRegs website.

Read our guide on packaging and packaging waste - your environmental responsibilities.

Subjects covered in this guide


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Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs
Environment Agency