Legal requirements

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We work closely with businesses to help them adopt the right ways of working in their kitchens. But the law is very clear that business owners must make sure their kitchen waste doesn’t block or damage our sewers.

The Water Industry Act 1991

It’s a criminal offence under section 111 of The Water Industry Act 1991 to release anything into the public sewers that could interfere with the free flow of wastewater. When the wrong things are in the sewers, there is a real potential for damage to the environment, homes and businesses.

If a water company discovers that the wrong things are going down the drain, they can prosecute the person responsible. If you’re prosecuted you could face an unlimited fine or even imprisonment.

Understanding the law

There are some simple steps you can introduce to make sure you are on the right side of the law.

We recommend that you read through the legal acts relating to your business, however here is a short list of some key things that you need to know:

  • if your business serves hot food, by law you need to have a grease separator installed (Building Regulations Part H 2002)
  • if you arrange for your kitchen waste to be collected, you need to keep a record of all collections as you may need to prove the contractor is licensed and registered (The Environment Protection Act 1990)
  • you could be prosecuted if you allow kitchen waste to cause smells or a build-up of rubbish (Environmental Protection Act 1990)
  • you can’t use leftover cooking oil for animal feed or get rid of it at a landfill (Animal By-Products Regulations)
  • a local authority can order you to install a grease trap for any building you use as part of your business (The Building Act 1984)
  • your business could be inspected by the Local Authority to check whether you’re managing your kitchen waste properly (The Food Safety Act)

Local authorities are authorised to inspect premises under the Food Safety Act 1990. Problems arising from the effect of fat, oil and grease on drains, resulting in a failure to comply with the Food Hygiene Regulations, could result in prosecution or an emergency prohibition order meaning that your business has to close.

Drainage serving kitchens in commercial hot food buildings should be fitted with a grease separator complying with BS EN 1825-1: 2004 and designed in accordance with BS EN 1825-2: 2002 or other effective means of grease management.

The local authority’s environmental health department will deal with any reported complaints of “statutory nuisance” such as smells, effluents, accumulation of refuse or any premises in such a state as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance. Where a statutory nuisance exists, the local authority has to serve an “abatement notice” under Section 80 of the Act.

If you don't comply it can result in prosecution and the local authority also has the power to carry out work to abate the nuisance and recover their costs.

From 1 November 2004, waste cooking oil from food service establishment premises can no longer be used as an ingredient in animal feed. This is to safeguard the food chain.

The collection of waste cooking oil must be via a licensed waste carrier. From October 2007, liquid waste may not be disposed of at a landfill.

Section 59 of the Building Act 1984 enables a local authority to require satisfactory provision for drainage of an existing building by service of a notice on the owner. This can include a requirement for the installation of a grease trap.

Every business that arranges for the collection and getting rid of waste (including waste cooking oils and fat) must comply with the requirements of Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Environmental Protection Act (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991 as amended.

The objective of the Duty of Care is to make sure that all waste is managed correctly from the place where it is produced to the point of final disposal.

The producer of the waste must therefore make sure that the collector is registered with the Environment Agency as a “registered waste courier” and keep a record of all collections.

The producer of the waste must also be confident that any waste is taken to a licensed disposal site. You should know that a local authority officer can ask you to show them documents proving your waste collector is registered and licensed.

If you don’t have any documents you could be fined a £300 fixed penalty notice or face prosecution. The local authority has the power to carry out any required work and recover their costs in cases of default by the owner.