Elliot Morley has warned bosses across the UK that they risk jail if they do not immediately start planning for changes in hazardous waste laws.
The Environment Minister told businesses they could fall foul of the Hazardous Waste Regulations in July if they did not start preparing for them now.
With the UK set to introduce these laws on July 16 to implement the next stage of the EU's Landfill Directive.
Morley said: "Businesses need to be aware that the penalties for failing to comply with the controls can be severe - in some cases a heavy fine or even jail.
"That is why it is key that businesses start preparing now, if they have not already done so. Proper planning can save you money.
"Experience has shown that by reducing the amount of hazardous waste being produced in the first place, there's a good chance you'll save money as well as protecting the environment."
Environmental Services Association (ESA) chief executive Dirk Hazel added: "There is a whole industry gearing up to manage this waste stream carefully, so there can be no excuses for irresponsible management.
"ESA's members are looking forward to working with waste producers and can provide advice and environmentally responsible management options for hazardous waste."
For more information on hazardous waste law changes, see www.hazardouswaste.org.uk.