From 2016 regulations kick in for venues producing 5kg of food waste. Ensure you’re ready, writes Iain Gulland of Zero Waste Scotland
LAST January we kicked off 2014 with perhaps the biggest game-changer for resource management in Scotland to date: the Waste (Scotland) Regulations came into effect, making it mandatory for businesses to separate key materials and present food waste for recycling.
Specifically, businesses now have to separate plastic, glass, metal, paper and cardboard for recycling, with businesses which produce over 50kg of food waste a week also required to separate this food waste.
One year on, and it’s great to start 2015 with positive indications of the change the regulations have made.
Organics recycling firm Keenan Recycling has seen its customer base double and is now processing an additional 400 tonnes of food waste a month, with the potential to generate enough energy to power almost 400 households for a year.
Of course we’re also marking one year to go until the requirement to recycle food is extended to more businesses.
From January 1, 2016 any business which produces more than 5kg of food waste a week will have to separate food waste, so at this mid-point I’d like to urge all businesses to take this opportunity to ensure that they are compliant with the current regulations and prepared for the next phase.
We carried out an independent survey last year which showed that 83% of businesses were aware of the regulations, and that of those, almost 90% were confident of their compliance – encouraging figures for such new regulations.
From working with businesses across the sectors we’ve seen first-hand that these regulations aren’t just a requirement to tick another box – they can actually provide a competitive advantage and in some cases, lead to cost savings.
Aberdeen pub and restaurant The Mains of Scotstown, for example, implemented unique ways of handling its waste in preparation for the regulations and found that it saved nearly £8000 a year and now sends only 13% of waste to landfill.
The challenge we now face this year is to reach those businesses which could still benefit from advice on how to implement the regulations.
Our free Resource Efficient Scotland programme can do just this, as well as providing wider advice and support to help make better use of resources including energy and water.
I would also urge businesses to check that their waste contractor has signed up to our voluntary Resource Sector Commitment.
By using a contractor which is signed up to the commitment, businesses can be assured that they will be provided with a high quality recycling service which is compliant with the regulations.
There are five easy steps to stay within the law:
1. Speak with your local authority or waste contractor. They should be able to offer advice and a service that enables you to comply with your duty of care.
2. Do not contaminate recyclables or food waste. Your waste contractor will refuse to uplift recyclables or food waste (or charge extra) if they are contaminated by other materials.
3. Train your staff and make sure they know how to recycle in the workplace. Label bins stating clearly what should be recycled and ensure staff know what goes where.
4. Use the rural postcode search tool to check if your business is rural and therefore exempt from the requirement to segregate food waste.
5. Less waste is easier to deal with. Look at what you are paying to have waste collected and think about how to reduce the amount of waste you produce.
With the countdown now on until the regulations extend next January, it’s important that businesses ensure their compliance, and Zero Waste Scotland is on hand to provide assistance, support and advice to all businesses and organisations.
• Iain Gulland is the chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland.