Have You Got A License For That? Vending Operator Classed as ‘Waste Carrier’!

Have You Got A License For That?
Mike Steel

Have You Got A License For That? Mike Steel, Director of Kent based Fairtrade Vending, must have thought it was April the first when one of his operators returned to base having been stopped by council officials, who had asked if they could see in the back of his van.

Amongst the boxes and paraphernalia you’d expect to find in the back of a vending van were three empty coffee sleeves. This was clearly ‘Not A Good Thing’, judging by the eyebrow raising and tut-tutting of the clipboard-wielding apparatchiks. One of them took photos…

Now, you don’t need me to tell you that an empty coffee sleeve is not a toxic item. Hazmat suits are not required to handle them and they pose no more danger to the public than an empty crisp packet. So why had Fairtrade Vending – suddenly and without warning – become the focus of such intense official scrutiny?

The answer came a few days later, through the letter box at Fairtrade HQ at Henley Business Park on the Medway City Estate. The letter was from Medway Council’s environmental team and it pointed out that the company had been caught red-handed, transporting rubbish without a Waste Carriage License. The letter concluded with the warning that, if they were caught again in such a flagrant contravention of the rules, they would be fined. (And by the way, these fines are described as ‘unlimited’, which is a bit worrying…)

Have You Got A License For That?

Mike couldn’t believe it. ‘This is just bureaucracy gone mad’ he thought. So he got in touch with the authorities to explain, calmly and reasonably, why he thought (and common sense dictated that) his company didn’t need to have a Waste Carrier License (WCL) – only to be told ‘yes, it does.’

Which made me think, ‘does this mean we’re all guilty? If Mike’s experience is anything to go by, we’re all of us non-licensed waste carriers. Soon, there’ll be spot-checks on all the major roads, and if you’re caught with a discarded Mars wrapper, (other chocolate based confectionery products are available); a couple of empty crisps packets and a half-empty water bottle, prepare to hear those immortal words: ‘you’re nicked’.

This is so OTT that you couldn’t make it up! The truth is, you can go on the government web site and basically download a WCL for free.

So, be like Mike. Download the file you need and print it out. Stick a copy in each van’s glove box. And be ready. You can begin the process HERE

Wouldn’t you think that The Authorities had more urgent issues to attend to?


*Fairtrade Vending has been supplying tea and coffee vending machines and services to London, Kent and throughout the South-East for over 30 years.  The company offers you a no-obligation consultation and site survey to analyse your requirements and recommend the most appropriate solution. Fairtrade Vending specialises in the healthcare and education sectors and has vast experience with hospitals, surgeries, schools, colleges and universities. Visit the Fairtrade Vending website.

*The images in the article by KentMessenger/SWNS



About the author

The Editor

Planet Vending’s Editor is Ian Reynolds-Young and it’s Ian’s unique writing talent that has made PV what it is today – the best read (red) vending blog in the world, and vending’s best read (reed). Ian ‘tripped and fell into vending’, in the capacity of PR executive, before launching a specialist agency, ‘reynoldscopy’, dedicated to the UK Vending business. The company continues to represent the interests of many of the sector’s leading brands.

‘It’s all about telling stories’, he says. ‘We want to make every visit to PV a rewarding experience. By celebrating the achievements of the UK’s operating companies, we’re on a mission to debunk the idea that vending is retailing’s poor relation.’

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