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New law requires businesses to recycle from April

A Torfaen council issued brown food waste caddy and recycling placed on the kerbside for collection in Pontypool (Pic: LDRS)

BUSINESS waste collections are to be cut back to once a fortnight, and firms will have to agree recycling is handled by their council. 

The plans, which are to be implemented from April, are in response to tough new recycling standards and Torfaen Borough Council hopes the changes will also help it boost the overall amount of waste reused or composted. 

From April 6, it will become law for all businesses, charities and public sector organisations in Wales to sort their waste for recycling – and the regulations also apply to waste and recycling collectors and processors who manage what is described as “household-like waste” from workplaces. 

Torfaen council has said it will collect food waste, which is composted and counts towards recycling targets, and cardboard from businesses weekly and will also have policy so that businesses know they must sort their waste into the appropriate bin. 

It will only offer a limited range of bin sizes however as it says it vehicles only have one bin lift fitted. 

The collection of rubbish that can’t be reused, referred to as residual waste, will be reduced to once a fortnight to match the service currently offered to households. 

But the council isn’t going to offer residual only contracts – even to firms that can prove they have recycling contracts with another provider. 

Any existing customer refusing to take the recycling service will be struck off the collections list, with the council stating they will be “asked to leave the service”. 

However some businesses such as nurseries and care homes will be offered a weekly collection allowance, the authority said it currently has 20 such customers. 

It says its recycling performance has been hampered in the past by being “generous with trade refuse contracts” and it doesn’t want to take it on trust that firms are complying with the new regulations. 

The council, as a trade provider, will be subject to enforcement review by Natural Resources Wales, and wants to ensure its service and customers are operating within the law and, from April, will charge £40 for Waste Transfer Notes all collectors must produce to show they are licensed.

The cost is likely to rise to the industry standard charge, currently £45, next year. Charges for the service will reflect the cost as the authority isn’t allowed to use taxpayers’ money to to support a trade service, with its core funding only covering the cost of collecting household waste and recyclables. 

Torfaen’s Labour cabinet has agreed cabinet member for the environment, Mandy Owen, can decide further details of the service and charges. 

Pontnewydd member Sue Morgan said it should be mindful of the requirements it is placing on firms. 

She said: “It struck me there are quite a lot of conditions. Are we not driving them into the arms of private collectors?” 

Recycling body WRAP Cymru has estimated “best practice business recycling” could help the council raise its recycling rate by a further 1.3 per cent above the 9.4 per cent improvement it believes can be achieved through reducing the amount of recyclables and food waste currently placed in wheelie bins in the borough. 

Councils must hit a 70 per cent recycling target by 2025. Torfaen only recycled 58.7 per cent of waste in 2022/23, below the 64 per cent target, and is at risk of fines of £1.1m if it misses the 2025 target. 

It has secured £418,000 for this year from the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity fund to implement recycling changes, including business recycling, and it will use hired vehicles initially for trade collections. 

A report to the cabinet said this would allow it to show the service works before it commits to buying its own vehicles which cost around £150,000 or more for diesel or at least £350,000 for an electric vehicle.

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