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13 November 2023
NetZero Solutions

New Recycling Laws for Businesses Welcomed, but Concerns Raised

A recycling boss has welcomed new laws affecting every workplace in Wales, but has issued a number of warnings to avoid problems when they come into effect. 

The Welsh Government announced that from 6 April 2024, it will be illegal for businesses, charities, and public sector organisations to not sort their waste, including food greater than 5kg.

One of the areas of concern for Grant Keenan, managing director of Keenan Recycling, is that the UK Government revealed similar legislation changes at the same time, with key differences including timescales and those affected.

Grant, who co-founded the company, one of the UK’s largest food waste recyclers, said:

“Wales leads the way in the UK when it comes to recycling rates, and is in the top three in the world.

“These new laws are a step in the right direction for the country to continue setting the example.

“However, one of the challenges of a devolved government is confusion of similar policies between the Senedd and Parliament.

“In England, the new legislation comes into effect in 2025, one year after Wales, while those employing less than 10 are exempt whereas it is mandatory for all Welsh companies regardless of size.

“We have already spoken to organisations in Wales who were planning to follow some or all aspects of the new rules governing England. Those firms would have risked fines and other consequences.”

Food waste will be sent to anaerobic digestion (AD) plants, which will convert it into energy, and according to Grant, another hurdle will be ensuring existing infrastructure can cope with demand.

He explained:

“AD facilities are a critical part of the chain to stop food waste going to landfill, and the regulations are welcomed by the plants that have invested millions of pounds to develop capacity in preparation for increased supply.

“From April 2024, there will be a significant increase in companies requesting materials to be sent to AD plants, but there is presently finite space on vehicles and at AD sites.

“Organisations that fail to act timeously may face huge costs as the food waste will have to travel across the border to England if full capacity in Wales is reached.

“While there are plans in place to build more infrastructure to cope with the extra volume, these facilities will take years before they come online.”

The legislation change is part of the Welsh Government’s goal of achieving Net Zero by 2050, and a concern was raised in the Senedd that this new law will see an increase in trucks on the roads.

Grant added:

“We are fully committed to our  net zero journey, that will see a fully decarbonised fleet by 2030, which has included a £1m investment in new eco-friendly trucks to cover Wales. It is also anticipated that any additional food waste trucks will be offset by a reduction of trucks transporting food waste to landfill.”

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