Compliance with new waste regulations "encouraging"

  06 March 2014
A series of unannounced inspections by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has found that current levels of compliance with the new Waste (Scotland) Regulations are encouragingly high amongst urban businesses.

The inspections targeted a cross section of major food producers and large to medium scale businesses in each of Scotland's four major cities, including restaurants chains, hotels, leisure and entertainment premises, such as cinemas, to assess the measures currently in place for segregating dry recyclable materials and food waste.

Of the 57 premises inspected, 42 (74%) businesses were either fully or broadly compliant with the new requirement to recycle, including 33 (82%) of large food businesses - with each business demonstrating a high level of awareness towards the new regulations, alongside a preparedness to comply.

Under the new Waste (Scotland) Regulations, which came into effect on January 1 2014, all businesses, not-for-profit organisations and public sector bodies are required to separate recyclable materials including glass, metal, plastic, paper and cardboard for collection. Food businesses in urban areas which produce more than 50kg per week of food waste also have to separate food waste for recycling.

Commenting on the inspections, SEPA's National Waste Unit Manager, Adrian Bond said:

To have compliance ratings of this level so early in the year is extremely encouraging, especially amongst Scotland's largest waste producers. Even though the inspections only sampled a fraction of businesses affected by the regulations, the results are a valuable insight into the levels of investment by the waste industry and overall business compliance, which we expect to be replicated across the country.    

"Further inspections are planned throughout the year with the aim of building a national picture of compliance across the business community, while identifying remaining challenges or areas in which increased awareness of the regulations is required."

Compliance among smaller, independent restaurants and cafés indicates a lower level of awareness of the new regulations and additional efforts will be targeted to support this sector to improve their waste segregation systems.

SEPA directly engaged with over 600 large food businesses (and their subsidiary companies) and over 100 national non-food retailers during 2013 to notify them of their forthcoming duty to segregate material as waste producers. This complimented an extensive publicity campaign delivered by Zero Waste Scotland, in partnership with SEPA, throughout 2013 to ensure maximum awareness of the regulatory requirements in advance of implementation.

Any businesses in need of sector specific guidance on how to become compliant can find more information on the SEPA website.


Notes to editors

The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 were passed by the Scottish Parliament on 9 May 2012. The regulations make the following provisions:

  • Businesses to present metal, plastic, glass, paper and card for separate collection from 1 January 2014.
  • Food businesses (except in rural areas) which produce over 50 kg of food waste per week to present that food waste for separate collection from 1 January 2014.
  • Food businesses (except in rural areas) which produce over 5 kg of food waste per week to present that food waste for separate collection from 1 January 2016.
  • Local authorities to provide a minimum recycling service to householders.
  • Waste contractors to provide collection and treatment services which deliver high quality recycling.
  • A ban on any metal, plastic, glass, paper, card and food collected separately for recycling from going to incineration or landfill from 1 January 2014.
  • All new incinerators must ensure that metals and dense plastics have been removed from residual municipal waste prior to incineration.
  • A ban on biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill from 1 January 2021.

Under the new regulations a "Food Business" is defined as whether for profit or not, public or private, carrying out any activity relating to the processing, distribution, preparation or sale of food.