Businesses across Scotland are preparing for the introduction of the Waste (Scotland) Regulations which come into force on January 1 2014 and impose strict rules on how businesses present their waste for collection.
And, waste management firms have called for strong enforcement of the regulations to ensure that the Scottish Governments ambitions are not undermined.
Under the regulations, which were approved in May 2012 (see letsrecycle.com story), businesses will be required to present their recyclable materials metals, plastics, paper, glass and card separately for collection.
Meanwhile food businesses located in urban areas which are producing over 50kg of food waste a week must also present this for separate collection from January 1 2014. This will broaden to include all businesses producing 5kg of food a week from January 2016.
The regulations will be enforced by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and businesses that do not comply could face a maximum fine of up to 10,000.
An independent survey undertaken on behalf of Zero Waste Scotland found that 66% of the 500 firms questioned are aware of the new regulations, and 92% of those are confident that they will be legally compliant.
Discussing the importance of the regulations, Scottish environment secretary Richard Lochhead said they were a major step in the delivery of the countrys zero waste ambition.
He said: “When properly managed waste is a valuable resource, delivering both financial and environmental benefits for all of us. These important regulations will help bring about a profound and frankly long-overdue change in how we regard and manage the waste that we all produce.
The Scottish business community has a vital role to play if Scotland is to meet its zero waste ambitions and it is pleasing to note that so many have already taken steps to ensure that they will be legally compliant from January 2014. Its important that we all play our part to reduce waste and recycle more and I would encourage all businesses across Scotland to make themselves aware of their obligations under these regulations.
Iain Gulland, director of Zero Waste Scotland, added: Its good to see that most businesses are ready for the new regulations coming into force in January, but theres still a job to do to ensure that all firms comply with the changes. There has been a collective effort from councils and waste management companies, working with ourselves and SEPA to get the message out but we need to keep up the momentum and help businesses to recycle more and ultimately reduce waste.
Viridors Graeme Milne, Scottish strategic sales manager, said the new regulations represent a paradigm shift in how the country manages its resources.
He said: Viridor has worked hard to lay the foundations for January 1 investing 100m in Scotlands most advanced network of recycling-led infrastructure, in a modern collections fleet, in staff development and in a modern customer service architecture. Weve worked hard to keep things simple, minimising cost and disruption to Scottish business at this sensitive time for the economy and in the trading year. In addition to talking directly with customers for over six months, weve invested heavily in an awareness campaign targeting 30,000 businesses across Scotland.
Despite the economic challenges still facing many businesses and the festive trading period, the response to our campaign has been overwhelmingly positive. Whilst corporate leaders such as Coca-Cola Enterprises, RBS and Scottish Power were well ahead of the pack, it is true that many small businesses have been slower to react, with a significant number still concerned by additional burdens on business in terms of cost, time and physical space for containers.
He added that it is vital for the government to continue to support businesses over the coming months to make the transition as simple as possible.
Waste management businesses operating in Scotland have been undertaking work to raise awareness of the regulations. Glenfarg-based Binn Waste Management has been working on a campaign for several months.
The firms general manager Iain Taylor told letsrecycle.com: We are changing how we operate and have moved to a three bin system one for food waste, one for residual waste and one from dry, mixed recyclables. The majority of our customers are responsive to this. Before we just has a DMR and a general waste bin but over the last year we have been rolling out food waste bins to our customers, depending on their needs.
Discussing the impact the regulations could have, Mr Taylor added: We will see more materials and at the end of the day there will be more end products so we will have to find markets for that. Just now plastics are a problem to get rid of and there could be a glut of cardboard and paper so that could drive prices down. There could be an adverse reaction to the new regulations.
Robin Stevenson, managing director of the William Tracey Group, has called for proportionate but effective enforcement of the new regulations.
He said: A softly softly approach to enforcement of the new Regulations will result in a lot of money being wasted; endanger Scotlands Zero Waste ambition and undermine the viability of legitimate businesses who have invested in the technology and resources.
Failing to crack down on those who choose to disregard their obligation will continue to impact on our ability to secure investment in alternative processing facilities.