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Cardiff retailer leads the way for the new workplace recycling legislation

Powys Recycling

A new law is coming into effect in Wales from 6 April which will require all workplaces to separate their waste in the same way that households across most of Wales already do.

There is now less than 2 months for all workplaces in Wales to prepare for the change.

A small Cardiff retailer has reported that the changes it has made to comply with the new workplace recycling law has made handling its waste easier to manage, more efficient and cheaper.

Canton Food Market put in a set of new bins for its food waste, cardboard, plastics, and general waste, earlier this year, after hearing about new workplace recycling law from April 2024.

Julie James, Minister for Climate Change said: “The new recycling law will go a long way to improve the amount and the quality of recycling we collect each year in Wales. It will help to avoid waste ending up in landfill and incineration. If we all work together, we can reduce our impact on the climate, and create a cleaner, greener Wales for future generations.”

The new law means that all workplaces across Wales will have to separate their waste for recycling and arrange for it to be collected separately.

All workplaces including businesses, public sector organisations and charities, will need to separate food, paper and card, glass, metal, plastics and cartons, unsold textiles, and small waste electrical/electronic equipment. You can mix paper and card together in the same container and you can mix metal, plastic, and cartons together.

Until the law starts in April cartons do not need to be recycled with plastics and metal.

There will also be a ban of the disposal of food waste into the sewers. No food waste should be put down the sink or drain into a public drain or sewer.

It is the occupiers of a workplace who must ensure recycling is separated for collection. If multiple workplaces are in a shared location, each individual workplace is responsible but may need to agree with the landlord or facilities manager if a central recycling system is required.

Some workplaces are already separating their waste for recycling but they will need to check what the new law includes to make sure they are complying when it comes into effect in April.

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

Linda Breen, Sales Assistant at the Canton Food Market said: “All our waste used to just go into one big bin out the back of the premises, but due to its size, it was not collected very frequently, and it took up a lot of space. Now we are finding that our recyclable waste is being collected twice a week, and the smaller bins take up a lot less space. We are also producing much less general waste, so we are saving money.

“With almost two-thirds of businesses in Wales classified as small and medium sized enterprises, like many other small businesses, we were worried about the change, but we have learned that change can be a good thing. The fact is, it works, while also making the management of our waste much easier.

“Communicating the changes to staff has also been relatively simple because we are only a small team, but we have clearly labelled, and colour coded all the bins to make it as clear as possible for staff to understand what goes where.”

Linda added: “We are pleased that we are already fully prepared for the new law before it comes into effect and are now considering other ways to reduce our waste. For instance, we have a special offers area to get rid of fruit and vegetables that are becoming overripe, and we offer a local pig farmer, any food that is passed its best and can no longer be sold. We are also eliminating plastic bags from the shop and encouraging customers to bring their own reusable bags.”

In just 20 years, Wales has gone from recycling less than 5% to recycling 65% of our waste and is now ranked third in the world. This helps to save around 400,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year. The new law will help to continue to increase recycling rates while supporting Wales’ commitment to become a zero-waste nation by 2050.

Advice for workplaces preparing for the new law:

Plan ahead – find out what the changes mean to you, what you need to do to comply and allow plenty of time to implement changes.

Talk to your recycling and waste collector – you need to make sure they can collect your separated waste.

Look at where and how your waste is collected – can you reduce the amount of waste you produce? What materials will you need to separate and what is the best way to do it.

Think about what internal and external bins you might need – what containers will you need for each of the different recycling materials.

Communicate – develop a plan to communicate the changes to staff, guests, visitors, customers etc so they understand what they need to do with their waste.

Think about health and safety – make sure your bins are accessible, are easy to access and move.

For more information on how the changes will affect your business and for guidance on what you need to do visit http://www.gov.wales/workplacerecycling