Just 1 in 50 tradespeople have waste carrier licences

18th April 2023

By Mark Hall

Just 1 in 50 tradespeople have waste carrier licences

Just 1 in 50 tradespeople have waste carrier licences, putting customers at risk

Beware the ‘rubbish’ surprise when having work done in your home – just 1 in 50 tradespeople have waste carrier licences, putting customers at risk.

Tradespeople without a licence are falling foul of strict waste disposal rules – and are putting their customers at risk, says rubbish removal experts Divert.co.uk.

Shockingly, just 1 in 50 of the UK’s tradespeople – including plumbers, builders and electricians – have the correct waste carrier’s licence to allow them to dispose of waste products from their jobs. From ripped up carpets to old sinks replaced during a bathroom refit, anyone who removes waste from a property is liable for hefty fines if they’re caught disposing of the rubbish without the correct licences.

The rules on waste licences were introduced to reduce the number of fly tippers – and the enormous cost associated with clearing up fly-tipped materials, which cost the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs a staggering £57.7 million.

But it is not only tradespeople who have been affected by the change in rules.

The Government website explaining the rules of legal waste disposal notes that ‘anyone who produces waste has a legal responsibility and duty of care for their waste until it’s collected by a legal waste carrier’ – meaning unsuspecting homeowners trusting their friendly local builder to take away their waste without checking for a licence could be liable for fines, too.

A spokesperson for Divert.co.uk, Mark Hall, said:

“Imagine having your brand new extension built or your bathroom done, only to be slapped with a fine from the council? It sounds like a horror story from a Channel 4 documentary, but it can – and does – happen. If you’re hiring a tradesman for your home, you need to check they’re licenced to carry waste before they drive away. A reputable tradesperson will always be happy to share their licence with you, so don’t be worried about asking.”

“Unfortunately if your waste is found fly tipped by a questionable tradesperson and you can’t prove it wasn’t your doing, you’ll soon regret not checking before the work was carried out. No shiny upgrade to your home is worth a fine of £50,000 – or even a prison sentence.”

Many tradespeople may mistakenly believe they’ll get away with carrying waste without a licence – but local authorities have cracked down on offenders in recent years. In the case of roofer Stewart Gosling, who was hit with a £300 fine after storing his empty sandwich and crisp packets in a commercial waste bag in his van, some councils are being exceptionally stringent.

Waltham Forest Council said of Gosling’s fine: “Regardless of what the items are, if waste is being stored in a commercial refuse bag in a trader’s van it is necessary that they have a valid waste carriers’ license.”

A sobering thought for those who may have considered the odd job to be safe enough – and one which Divert.co.uk is keen to note is easily avoided.

Hall continued:

“For under £200 – just £154 for the initial application – and a bit of paperwork, a tradesperson can be licenced to move and dispose of waste. Even those who qualify for the upper tier, such as those who move rubble or pipework, only have to renew their licence for £104 every three years.

“Peace of mind for customers, a legitimate licence for your business and no fear of being fined for a few leftover crisp packets: it’s a no-brainer.”