Business owners should act now before new regulations come into force next January
By lawyer David Gibson
How often do you think about waste?
The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 mean you are going to have to think about it more.
More regulations…great. But let us see what the opportunities as well as the challenges are.
From January 1, 2014 every business must present dry goods (metal, plastic, glass, paper and card) separately for collection. If you run a food business (and that will include most licensed premises) producing over 50kg of food waste a week you must present that for separate collection (the requirement will extend to all food businesses which produce over 5kg of food waste a week from January 1, 2016).
Plan ahead and you might be pleasantly surprised by the benefits.
Where food collections are available it will be illegal to dispose of food into the public sewer, for example by maceration. Businesses located in a rural area are exempt from the food waste requirements.
It is all part of a worldwide trend: EU Directives, Climate Change and the Waste Hierarchy – prevention; preparation for re-use; recycling; recovering other value and disposal (landfill).
It is all inter-connected, including the increase in landfill tax rates.
In 2011, the UK was one of the dirty men of Europe, only Greece and Portugal having a worse recycling record.
But a lot is happening. It is a transformative period, shifting the mindset of waste as a problem to it being viewed as a resource.
In 2010 the Scottish Government announced an ambitious target of 70% recycling by 2025, with a 50% target by 2013. The Scottish Conservatives have described the 2013 target as “unachievable”.
There are big challenges. In Scotland we are playing catch up, but big strides have been made.
As a business what should you be doing? It needs to be given early thought. There may be issues of lack of storage or staffing consequences.
• Get to know the regulations and how they affect your own business now.
• Reduce waste. Almost every business should be able to make cash savings. There are many consultancies to support this exercise. Zero Waste Scotland provides a free online training course of resource efficiency.
• What are the alternatives for collection? Will you be dependent simply on kerb-side collection by the local authority or would it be better to contract with a waste management company?
• Can you join forces with other businesses in your area, pool resources and/or negotiate a better contract with a waste management contractor as a group?
• Where do you fit within the waste chain? Do your research, there might be new business opportunities.
• Is financial support available? Grants or funding may be limited as government money is aimed more at local authorities and innovation funding. However, take nothing for granted and do your research as to what is available for you.
Plan ahead and you might be pleasantly surprised there are positive benefits in thinking about waste management, we are all involved in some way. Don’t leave it too late.
• David Gibson is a partner at bto Solicitors.
Image – David Gibson said good waste management can help operators cut costs.