7 January 2016 by Daisy Phillipson

Scotland tightens food waste regulations

Businesses in Scotland producing more than 5kg of food waste per week are now required to present the material separately for collection under changes to the law which came into effect on Friday (January 1).

The requirement applies to businesses in urban areas and has been brought in under the Waste (Scotland) Regulations, which originally came into effect in 2014 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Scottish Environment Minister Richard Lochhead (pictured right) highlighting food waste reduction in February 2015

Scottish Environment Minister Richard Lochhead (pictured right) highlighting food waste reduction

Eventually the regulations, which were spearheaded by Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead, will also bring into effect a ban on biodegradable municipal waste being sent to landfill from 2020, while the Scottish Government has also announced a plan to introduce a food waste reduction target (see letsrecycle.com story).

Until last Friday, only businesses producing 50kg or more of food waste per week were required to present the material separately, but the law change effectively means that the majority of businesses serving food in Scotland are likely to be affected.

Fine

The regulations are enforced by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). If companies do not meet the requirements of the law then SEPA can issue an on-the-spot £300 fine and repeat offenders could face up to £10,000 in penalties.

However, while there are fines set for businesses who do not comply, Zero Waste Scotland, the organisation setup to deliver the Scottish government’s Zero Waste Plan, estimates that reducing food waste could save businesses £192 million per year.

Climate change

Iain Gulland, chief executive, Zero Waste Scotland said: “Scotland’s waste regulations are designed to capture the value of waste as a resource and to tackle climate change.

“Working with businesses through our Resource Efficient Scotland service, we know that reducing and recycling food waste has helped them to cut costs. Now that the regulations have been extended to cover the majority of Scottish food businesses, we believe even more will benefit.

“The change is also good news for the recycling industry, which is handling more food waste than ever before, helping to create green energy as well as reducing emissions from landfill.”


Iain Gulland, chief executive
Zero Waste Scotland

“The change is also good news for the recycling industry, which is handling more food waste than ever before, helping to create green energy as well as reducing emissions from landfill.”

Efficient

Grant Keenan, managing director of Aberdeenshire-based food waste treatment firm Keenan Recycling said that the regulation could save businesses money in a number of ways.

“Firstly our feedback has been that companies’ buying habits have changed due to the regulations and so they buy according more to what they need and focus on cutting food waste as much as possible.

“Also it will cut down on general waste being sent to landfill, which helps with climate change,” he said.

With regards to boosting recycling, Mr Keenan said that the 5kg regulation will make a ‘huge difference’.

Last year Zero Waste Scotland revealed that the amount of food waste treated at Scottish anaerobic digestion plants had increased by as much as 15,000 tonnes in the first few months of the regulations taking effect (see letsrecycle.com story). “Previous food waste figures will jump even further with the new regulations,” Mr Keenan added.


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