Wales to require businesses to separate recyclable materials


Household recycling

The Workplace Recycling Regulations will require all business, public and third-sector workplaces to separate key recyclable materials in the way that householders already do across most of Wales.

The law will come into force on 6 April 2024. The Welsh Government says it will improve the quality and quantity of recyclable materials collected from workplaces. The law also applies to all waste and recycling collectors and processors who manage household-like waste from workplaces.

Minister for Climate Change, Julie James commented: “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.

“It is fitting that these regulations have been made at a point which coincides with the beginning of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) as they further our commitment to reach zero waste and net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

Workplaces will need to arrange for the waste to be collected separately from other waste and separate the following materials:

  • paper and card
  • glass
  • metal, plastic, cartons and other similar packaging (for example coffee cups)
  • food – only for premises that produce more than 5kg of food waste a week
  • unsold small waste electrical and electronic equipment (sWEEE)
  • unsold textiles

Each group of materials must be kept separate from each other. However, while glass must be collected on its own, workplaces can collect metal, plastic and cartons together in the same container.

The new law also includes bans on sending all food waste to sewers, any waste that has been separated for recycling going to landfill or incineration plants (except most textiles which may go to incineration plants, apart from unsold textiles that cannot go to incineration or landfill), and sending any wood waste to landfill.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is responsible for making sure that materials are being separated and collected correctly, and that the ban on recycling going to incineration and landfill is being followed.

The new Workplace Recycling Regulations mark another large step forward for Welsh recycling.

Commenting on the new law, Executive Director of the Environmental Services Association, Jacob Hayler, said: “The new Workplace Recycling Regulations mark another large step forward for Welsh recycling, building on the successful household system.

“The recycling and waste management industry very much supports measures to harmonise requirements, which reduces confusion, increases participation, and boosts performance. The certainty that clear and timely regulation provides also enables industry to invest in, and deliver, the services needed to support higher recycling rates.”

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