Welsh businesses consulted on separating key materials for recycling

The Welsh Government has announced a consultation on legislation to enforce the separate collection of ‘key recyclable materials’ from non-domestic premises, applying to businesses, public and third sector bodies.

Announcing the proposed measures, Julie James, Minister for Climate Change, said that the proposals will ‘deliver significant carbon savings, increase consistency in the way recyclable materials are collected across Wales and bring significant positive benefits for the economy’.

By inserting the additional regulations into the Environment (Wales) Act 2016, it is estimated there will be an additional 3.8 million tonnes of non-domestic material recycled over a 10-year period, resulting in reduction in 3.2million tonnes of CO2.

Research in 2019 estimated that the industrial and commercial sectors in Wales annually generated an estimated 2.9 million tonnes of waste, of which 1.3 million tonnes was recycled.

From 1 October 2023, businesses, the public sector and third sector organisations will be required to collect the following nine materials in six separate waste streams: food produced by premises producing more than 5kg of food waste a week; paper and card; glass; metal, plastic, and cartons and other fibre-plastic composite packaging of a similar composition; unsold small waste electrical and electronic equipment; and unsold textiles.

This consultation seeks to establish the suitability of proposed enforcement measures, such as issued fixed-penalties of £300 for failing to separate the specified recyclables or knowingly disposing of food waste in a sewer, as well as fines of £500 for waste operators failing to comply with the regulations.

In addition, the Government is also consulting on the Code of Practice it has provided for recycling from non-domestic premises ‘provides sufficient guidance on how to meet the separation requirement for the forthcoming non-domestic recycling regulations’.

The reforms also include further incineration and landfill bans, which will apply to waste wood, as well as the proposed materials for separate collection.

The Welsh Government aims to improve the quality and level of recycling from non-domestic premises and support the move away from the significant cost of waste disposal, to a situation where ‘waste material is instead effectively captured and returned into the economy’. Wales has set itself a target of zero waste by 2050, the process for which is laid out in the ‘Beyond Recycling’ plan.

Welsh recycling has already seen significant improvements following a £1 billion investment from the Welsh Government. Municipal rates have grown from 4.8 per cent in 1998-1999, to 65 per cent in 2021-2022, resulting in an estimated saving of around 400,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Highlighting this achievement, Julie James commented: “Every person in Wales has played their part in increasing our recycling rates exponentially. It has been a real Team Wales approach and recycling is now a part of who we are.

“In the World Cup of recycling, as the third-best recycling nation, we’d be a shoo-in for the semi-finals. But taking a page out of Cymru’s book, we want to go further.

“During this cost of living crisis especially, ensuring high-quality material can go back into the Welsh economy is a key way in which we can improve the resilience of our domestic supply chains.

“Quite simply, these reforms are a key part of how we can build a stronger, greener economy – creating a more prosperous Wales, now and for future generations.”

The Wales-only consultation on the plans will run for 12 weeks until 15 February 2023. 

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