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30 January 2024
NetZero Solutions

Green Transition: Welsh Workplaces Gear Up for Recycling Law Implementation

With just two months to go until the new workplace recycling law comes into effect, organisations across Wales are preparing for the change.

From 6 April, it will become law for all businesses, charities, and public sector organisations to sort their waste for recycling, in the same way as households do across most of Wales.

Julie James, Minister for Climate Change said:

“Wales’s new workplace recycling law will help improve both the volume and quality of recycling we collect each year. This is not only important in delivering against the climate and nature emergency but will crucially also deliver benefits to the economy by capturing a resilient supply of high-quality recycled materials. This shows how we can work together to reduce our environmental impact and lay the foundations for a stronger, greener economy.”

Many organisations have already started making the changes and have been experiencing some positive results. For instance, The Isle of Anglesey City Council, has experienced a significant increase in recycling across its schools and council buildings following the introduction of separate collections in September 2023. The overall rate has increased by almost 15%, with several schools now recycling more than three quarters (80%) of their waste.

Meiron Edwards, Chief Waste Management Officer at the Council said:

“We have taken a very considered approach to making the changes to the separation of waste in our council managed buildings across the county. We began our journey over 12 months ago and have just started our new collection service in September.

As part of the planning process, the Council ran a four-week trial in seven of its key sites across the county. This helped inform them of potential challenges, logistics, and processes involved in rolling it out across the full 70 sites.

The Council procured and awarded a contract to Veolia UK to perform the new collection service. They worked together to determine the volume and quantity of bins for each site based on their general waste production, as well as the frequency of collection required. Once this was decided, over 1000 internal recycling boxes were issued to the 70 sites with colour coded, specially designed labels, along with detailed guidance and instructions on what could and could not go in each recycling box, as well as the procedures involved such as rinsing out containers.

The Council implemented the changes across its 70 sites since September and in just one month experienced almost 15% uplift in recycling rates across sites.

Meirion added:

“We are only a couple of months into the new waste separation process but so far, so good. The feedback from the changes has been positive, and the results show for themselves. Most people separate their waste streams at home already, so the changes align with current household waste guidance, which should help. There are still some challenges that need addressing, but overall, we are pleased with the progress.”

“I think setting up a project team across disciplines within the council and planning has been the key to getting it right. The advice we would give to any organisation, regardless of size, is to investigate what changes you need to put in place sooner rather than later. You need to consider everything from the size and number of bins to the frequency of collection, as well as how you will set about communicating these changes with your staff, colleagues, guests, visitors, or users. The communication of the changes, along with clear instructions and guidance will be the key to achieving the most efficient segregation of recycled waste.”

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.”

In just 20 years, Wales has gone from recycling less than 5% to recycling over 65% of our waste and is ranked third in the world for household recycling rates. This helps to save around 400,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

The new law will help to continue to increase recycling rates while supporting Wales’ commitment to become a zero-waste nation by 2050.

For more information on how the changes will affect your workplace and for guidance on what you need to do visit www.gov.wales/workplacerecycling.

Advice for workplaces preparing for the new law:

  • Plan ahead – find out what the changes mean to you, what you need to do to comply and allow plenty of time to implement changes.
  • Talk to your recycling and waste collector – you need to make sure they can collect your separated waste.
  • Look at where and how your waste is collected – can you reduce the amount of waste you produce? What materials will you need to separate and what is the best way to do it.
  • Think about what internal and external bins you might need – what containers will you need for each of the different recycling materials.
  • Communicate – develop a plan to communicate the changes to staff, guests, visitors, customers etc so they understand what they need to do with their waste.
  • Think about health and safety – make sure your bins are accessible, are easy to access and move.

What the new law means:

  • Some workplaces are already separating their waste for recycling, but they will need to check what the new law includes to make sure they are complying when it comes into effect in April.
  • The law also applies to all waste recycling collectors and processors who manage household-like waste from workplaces.

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