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New workplace recycling laws coming into effect across Wales from April

Wasted food (Pic: Foerster, Wikimedia Commons)

FOOD waste must not be chucked down the drain in the office – according to new laws coming into force across Wales.

It’s part of a raft of new workplace recycling rules coming into effect from April 6, 2024.

The legislation will impact workplaces, businesses, the public sector and charities.

They will legally have to separate recyclable materials – just as households already do.

The rules also apply to all waste and recycling collectors and processors who manage household-like waste from workplaces.

Items to be separated will include paper and card, glass, metal, plastic, and cartons and packaging, eg: coffee cups.

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Also banned is food – for premises that produce more than 5kg of food waste a week – unsold small waste electrical and electronic equipment and unsold textiles.

Putting waste into a single bin will not be allowed, materials must be kept separate, glass must be collected on its own, although metal, plastic and cartons may go together.

Local authorities will be responsible for making sure the ban on food waste down the sewer is followed. Natural Resources Wales is responsible for ensuring materials are being separated and collected correctly, and that incineration and landfill rules are being followed.

Among various items forbidden, is sending any wood waste to landfill. Cyngor Gwynedd says it is working with the Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales to “inform and educate business owners” over the changes.

Whilst Anglesey County Council pointed out that it was the first local authority in Wales to conform to the new regulations.

Following a trial, it had already launched the recycling measures last September.

A Cyngor Gwynedd spokesperson said: “From April 2024, the Welsh Government’s new Workplace Recycling Regulations will come into force.”

“All non-domestic properties – such as businesses including holiday lets as well as charities – will need to separate recyclables from other waste, with the aim of improving the quality and quantity of commercial recyclable waste collected and separated across Wales.

“The new legislation is being enforced by Natural Resources Wales. Cyngor Gwynedd provides a commercial service to around 2,000 non-domestic properties across the county to collect waste and recycling and we have written to them all explaining the new regulations and how we are planning our service to ensure we meet the new expectations.

“Our aim will be to help these customers to improve the amount of their waste that will be recycled. Under the new regulations, the council will have the right to refuse to collect the general waste from businesses if it contains recyclable waste.”

“The council and customer would risk financial penalties if it were found that any general waste collected contained recyclable materials.

The same is true of other commercial businesses which provide the same service.”

It noted that Wales is currently third in the world when it comes to recycling waste from households: “The recycling rate of waste material collected by our local authorities is currently at just over 65% and helps save around 400,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

“The aim is to build on the success of household recycling and ensure high recycling rates across workplaces too.”

It cited the “benefits” as increasing recycling as increasing the amount and quality of recycling that can then be used by Welsh manufacturers, supports workplaces to reduce waste, reduces carbon emission and helps the economy “to create a greener Wales”
A spokesperson for Anglesey County Council stated: “Anglesey Council became the first local authority in Wales to conform with the Welsh Government’s new Workplace Recycling Regulations last year – six months ahead of schedule.”

“The project was trialled within selected council-owned sites in January and February 2023 and officially rolled out to all council-owned sites, (around 70) on September 1, 2023.”

The council’s workplace recycling contract is undertaken by Veolia.

It added: “We have already been sorting waste for recycling at the main council offices, and all council-owned sites, including care homes, leisure centres, libraries, and schools, in exactly the same way most households do now.

“This will ensure that we comply with Welsh Government regulations, boost our recycling rates and contribute towards our net zero ambitions as outlined Council Plan 2023-28.”

For more information on the new legislation visit:  https://www.gov.wales/workplace-recycling