Law Proposes Schools, Hospitals & Businesses Must Separate Recycling

The new Environment Bill, put forward by the Welsh Government will mean schools, hospitals and business will have to separate waste for recycling. The Bill will also extend charging on plastic bags to “bags for life”.

Wales wants to improve on the estimated 38% of business waste being recycled.

The Bill introduces new arrangements in relation to waste segregation and collection. The provisions of the Bill will act at different points in the waste management chain – at the producer of the waste, at the waste collection company and at the different points of treatment and final disposal or recovery.

Environment Minister Carl Sergeant – “This bill will ensure the decisions we take in relation to our natural resources support our economy, our communities and our environment”

The Bill will operate in conjunction with landfill bans to ensure that valuable materials are recycled. The diversion of materials from disposal, towards high quality recycling or recovery will help with the transition to a more efficient use of resources derived from waste.

Increased recycling and recovery of waste will help to decrease pressure on natural resources whilst also contributing towards positive results for both the economy and the environment.

The aims of the provisions are:

  • Segregation by businesses and other waste producers such as the public sector will ensure that clean, uncontaminated recyclable materials are separated before moving onto the next stage in the process. This will command higher prices in the recycling markets, and businesses that separate their wastes may find that they can reduce their costs of waste collection and disposal.
  • Separate collection will ensure that a full separate collection service for segregated recyclable materials is available to those that produce waste. This will help to improve the quality of materials available for recycling and make sure that materials, which could have been recycled are not wasted.
  • Energy from Waste bans will ensure that valuable recyclable materials and resources are not burnt. This will protect the environment by ensuring that only residual waste streams are disposed of in landfill or incinerated.
  • A ban on the disposal of food waste to sewer from non-domestic premises will ensure that increased amounts of food waste are available for beneficial treatment and use rather than disposal. The waste will be used as a vital source of renewable energy and high quality fertiliser. Other benefits are likely to include the reduction of the risk of blockages, sewer flooding, environmental pollution, odours and rodent infestations.

Bags For Life

Whilst the supply of single use carrier bags has reduced, data from WRAP for the period of 2010 to 2013 has shown a significant increase in the sale of bags for life.

Although this increase was expected, the Bill will extend the Welsh Ministers powers so that they may set a charge for other types of carrier bags such as bags for life, in addition to the current charge on single-use carrier bags, if evidence shows that the supply and disposal of these types of bags is detrimental to the environment.

The Welsh Government says this will give Ministers the flexibility to respond to future changes in consumer behaviour or any unintended consequences of the current charge.

“It is not our intention to amend the current regulations to place a minimum charge on other types of carrier bags immediately as the Welsh Government does not wish to unnecessarily legislate,” the Welsh Government says.

“Instead, the Bill will provide the Welsh Ministers with the enabling powers to make regulations if evidence shows that the demand and improper disposal for other types of bags is creating an enhanced risk to the environment.”

Environment Minister Carl Sargeant said: “This bill will ensure the decisions we take in relation to our natural resources support our economy, our communities and our environment.”

If the Bill passes it will become law next year.

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