Charity retail and household waste duty of care

Householders in England and Wales already have a duty of care to take reasonable steps to ensure their waste is passed to an authorised person. Currently the only option for local authorities to enforce this responsibility is to take anyone in breach of the duty to court. Therefore, the governments in England and in Wales are currently consulting on the introduction of a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) for such offences.

We believe that it is in the interests of householders, councils and governments that remedial action against those failing in their duty of care to dispose of waste properly – whether through the courts or FPNs – is rare. Such action can be costly and time consuming.

Therefore, householders need to be given easy opportunities to dispose of waste in an ethical and sustainable manner. This can best be achieved through partnerships between councils and charity shops which are mutually beneficial.

As the voice of charity retail, we are always looking for opportunities to promote our agenda to influential audiences, and have recently taken part in the official ‘Consultation on the household waste duty of care’ and highlighted three key ways in which such partnerships could be built.

  1. Better signposting to charity shop collections and donation stations so that councils are not seen as the default, or only, way to dispose of bulky waste items and many of these can be given to charity shops instead. This benefits the council as they do not incur the costs associated with the collection. It benefits the environment as the item stays out of landfill and is reused in the local economy, and the charity shop as they get more items to sell and raise more money for their cause. Finally, the resident also benefits by arranging a quick, free, and ethical collection of their old item, with no possibility they will subject to court action or an FPN.
  2. The removal of waste charges on the small percentage of donated items which cannot be sold by charity shops, to ensure they are able to perform more collections for householders.
  3. Local authorities to cease competing for stock with their local charity shops, for example by running doorstep collections, so that householders have clarity and a trusted option.

You can read this, and all of our other consultation responses in full, by visiting the dedicated page on our members’ website.

Matt Kelcher
Head of Public Affairs and Research
Charity Retail Association