New Workplace Recycling Regulations Announced in Wales

The Welsh Parliament (the Senedd) passed a new law in the last week of November – the Workplace Recycling Regulations. This will change how all workplaces across the country store, manage and dispose of commercial waste from the start of April 2024.

Businesses, charities, and public and third sector organisations must separate certain recyclable materials and arrange collection away from other waste. Essentially, it means workplaces will legally have to separate paper and card, glass, packaging, food, electrical, and textile waste for recycling like most households already do.

The Senedd is making this a legal requirement to improve recycling rates in Wales and move the country closer to becoming a zero-waste nation and reducing carbon emissions. Failure to comply could result in a fine for your business.

Learn all about the new Workplace Recycling Regulations and how to prepare for them with Business Waste.

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What are the Workplace Recycling 
Regulations in Wales?

The Workplace Recycling Regulations is a new law that legally requires all workplaces in Wales to separate certain waste materials and arrange collection separate from other waste. Businesses, charities, and public sector organisations will need to use bins or containers to store paper and card, glass, packaging, food, unsold small WEEE, and unsold textiles.

Workplaces will no longer be able to put all waste in a single bin if it includes any of these recyclable materials. However, you can use one bin for paper and card, and another to collect metal, plastics, and cartons (packaging) together. Glass must be collected on its own.

It also affects the disposal methods of food waste, recyclable rubbish, and waste wood. Under the new law, there’s a ban on sending:

  • Any amount of food waste to sewers
  • Wood waste to landfill
  • Any waste separated for recycling going to landfill or for incineration (except some textiles that may go to incineration plants – but not unsold textiles)

Failure to follow these new Workplace Recycling Regulations could result in a fine for your business, charity, or third sector organisation.

When are the Workplace Recycling Regulations 
in Wales being introduced?

The Workplace Recycling Regulations in Wales come into force from 6 April 2024. After this date, all businesses, charities, and public sector organisations anywhere in Wales must ensure relevant waste materials are collected separately and disposed of appropriately.

The only exceptions are NHS and private hospitals, which have an extra two years to comply with the regulations. Plans to reform workplace recycling in Wales were outlined over the summer, but the law was officially passed in the Senedd during the last week of November 2023.

Why is this new law 
being introduced?

Changes to the law around workplace recycling in Wales aim to help the country work towards becoming a zero-waste nation and reducing carbon emissions by 2050. Recycling rates for households in Wales are already high compared to most other countries. Just over 65% of materials collected by local authorities from homes are recycled.

The new Workplace Recycling Regulations aim to replicate these results for businesses and improve recycling rates in Wales across the commercial, charity, and public sectors. Separating and sorting recycling in workplaces should ensure greater volumes of high-quality recycling are produced and much less waste is sent to landfill and for incineration.

There’s also an economic boost by increasing recycling rates across Wales. It helps to keep materials in use for longer, which tackles the rising cost of materials and reduces how much landfill tax businesses pay for their waste management. Greater recycling should also create new and more job opportunities.

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It is important that this collective effort stems right from the biggest businesses and organisations to the smallest in helping to tackle the climate and nature emergency and improve recycling – Minister for Climate Change, Julie James

What waste types must 
my business separate?

Under the new Workplace Recycling Regulations, certain waste materials must be collected separately. This aims to avoid contamination and increase the quantity and quality of individual recycling streams. The following waste materials must be stored and collected separately from other rubbish:

You can’t put all your waste in one bin if any of the above materials are present. For example, you can’t throw away paper, glass, and cartons in a general waste bin. This means your business in Wales could need up to six extra bins from April 2024 to comply with the new regulations, depending on what waste types you generate.

Get help with Business Waste as we can provide a wide range of recycling bins for free to separate waste types anywhere in Wales. There are no delivery or rental charges, you just pay for collection.

Get free recycling bins for businesses in Wales

What are the food waste 
disposal regulations?

Any premises in Wales that create more than 5kg of food waste a week must arrange separate collection of their waste food, so it doesn’t go to landfill. This includes restaurants, cafes, takeaways, hotels, pubs, catering companies, and canteens in offices, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and anywhere else that serves food.

The new regulations also stipulate that workplaces must not dispose of any food waste down the sink or drain or into a public drain or sewer. You must not use a macerator or similar technology like enzyme digesters or de-waterers to dispose of food waste down the sink or drain either.

Who must follow these 
Workplace Recycling Regulations?

Every workplace in Wales is required to follow the new Workplace Recycling Regulations. This includes businesses, charities, and public sector organisations. The occupiers of a workplace must ensure recycling is separated for collection and the new law is followed whether you own, lease, rent, or temporarily occupy the premises.

For any workplace in a shared location, the individual organisations are responsible for complying with the regulations. If a central recycling system is required then you might need an agreement in place with the landlord or facilities manager. The regulations also cover waste and recycling collectors and processors who manage household-like waste from workplaces.

The new workplace recycling law applies to all workplaces in Wales, including:

How will the new workplace 
recycling law be enforced?

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) will be responsible for overseeing the separation requirements for recycling materials and the ban on waste going to incineration and landfill is upheld. Local Authorities in Wales will regulate the ban on food waste disposal in sewers from workplaces within their regions. Failure to comply with the new regulations could lead to a fine for your organisation.

How to prepare for the 
Workplace Recycling Regulations in Wales

The earlier your organisation prepares for these new regulations, the easier it will be to ensure compliance and avoid the risk of a fine. As with any commercial waste collection, only licensed waste carriers must remove and handle the rubbish your organisation produces. To ensure it’s managed responsibly you should receive a duty of care certificate.

A few key steps to prepare for the Workplace Recycling Regulations in Wales:

  • Conduct a waste audit – assess the types and amounts of waste you produce on a daily and weekly basis. This should identify any rubbish materials you create that fall within the new regulations and whether you need extra bins to collect them separately in your workplace.
  • Contact your waste collector – speak to your current waste collector to ensure they can collect and recycle your separated waste. If they can’t you should contact other commercial waste management firms to find a suitable and cost-effective service and solution to comply with the new regulations.
  • Reduce waste and reuse materials – look for any ways to reduce how much waste your organisation produces. This could be through reusing materials or adapting processes to be more efficient. Reducing waste could mean there’s less to separate and you won’t need as many collections.
  • Train employees on the new law – explain to your staff about the new law well in advance and make their obligations clear. Putting a waste management policy in place, having clear posters near bins, and creating training materials can help ensure recyclable rubbish and other relevant waste are separated in line with the new law.
  • Get the right bins in place – your audit results should highlight the bins you need to separate all relevant waste types. Request the best sizes and types of bins with an efficient collection schedule to avoid a build-up of rubbish and the risk of recyclables being placed in the wrong bins. Put them in an accessible spot for employees and customers too.

Claim free bins for Welsh businesses

At Business Waste we can help organisations in Wales comply with the new law with our commercial waste services. We provide free bins to separate your recycling and ensure it’s recycled away from landfill and incineration – you only pay for collection. Licensed waste carriers will remove your waste and you receive a free duty of care certificate too.

Get a free quote for recycling and waste collection in Wales today – call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online.

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