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Waste regulations extended

Published: 28 Dec 2015 00:01

Environment Secretary urges businesses to help recycle food waste properly.

Food businesses in non-rural areas across Scotland, generating more than 5kg of food waste per week will be legally required to have it collected separately for recycling from January 1.

Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment Richard Lochhead today welcomed the progress that has been made since the key requirements of the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 came into force.

Up until now only food businesses generating more than 50kg of food waste each week are legally required to recycle it.

The Cabinet Secretary said:

"All businesses need to think carefully about what they're doing with their food waste – even more so from 1 January when all businesses producing more than 5kg of food waste per week will be legally required to collect it separately, in line with our Waste Regulations.

"It will no longer be acceptable to put food waste in residual waste bins so now is the time to think about the amount of food waste being produced and how it can be reduced – helping to save businesses money in the long-term. I want businesses, as well as the general public, to see food waste as a resource which can bring economic benefit to communities, as well as reducing our environmental impact.

"These regulations mean that more food waste is now being recycled, via processes such as anaerobic digestion, and less is going to landfill where it can emit harmful greenhouse gases. I recently set out my intention to introduce a food waste reduction target for Scotland, so there is no time like the present to start making changes."

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland said:

"Since the Waste (Scotland) regulations were introduced, Scottish businesses and the environment have felt the benefits. Waste management firms have seen an increase in business from food waste that would otherwise be going to landfill, and fewer climate changing emissions are being generated as a result. Our research also shows that compliance has helped many businesses to reduce their waste costs.

"We can help businesses with their obligations through our free Resource Efficient Scotland service. I would also urge companies to check if their waste contractor has signed up to the voluntary Resource Sector Commitment. By using a contractor which has signed up to the commitment, businesses can be assured of a high quality recycling service which also helps them comply with the regulations."

Adrian Bond, Waste Unit Manager at SEPA said:

"SEPA welcomes the continued drive to recover value from food waste. We appreciate that the changes may present difficulties to some small businesses and would urge them to work with their waste contractors to find suitable solutions. SEPA and Local Authorities will be enforcing the legislation, but we aim to do so proportionately, targeting those who are making no effort to comply and assisting those who are trying."

Notes to editors

  • The Regulations already require all food businesses generating over 50kg, in non-rural areas, to recycle food waste. From January 2016, this extends to food businesses generating over 5kg.
  • The Regulations also include a ban on biodegradable municipal waste (including food waste) going to landfill after 2020.
  • The Resource Sector Commitment was set up for the resource management industry to demonstrate their support for Scotland's zero waste ambitions and show their commitment to delivering high-quality resource management services.
  • Resource Efficient Scotland support and contact details available at

Anaerobic Digestion

  • Anaerobic digestion is a natural process in which micro-organisms break down organic matter in the absence of oxygen, into biogas (a mixture of carbon dioxide and methane) and digestate (a nitrogen-rich fertiliser).
  • The biogas can be used to generate electricity, ideally using Combined Heat and Power (CHP), burned to produce heat, or can be cleaned and used in the same way as natural gas or as a vehicle fuel.

The digestate can be used as a renewable fertiliser or soil conditioner.