Guidance for waste collectors and handlers: Separated waste collections

What is happening?

From 6 April 2024, it will become law for all non-domestic premises such as businesses, charities and public sector organisations in Wales to sort their waste for recycling.

Waste and recycling collectors and processors who manage household-like waste from workplaces will be required to ensure specific waste streams are collected and kept separately.

The Welsh Government is introducing this law to improve the quality and quantity of the recyclable material that we produce.

Natural Resources Wales is the regulating authority for these new requirements.

What the new laws means for waste carriers, brokers and dealers, licenced waste facilities and waste installations?

The Separation Requirements

You will need to ensure the specified wastes are collected separately and kept separate from other separated wastes and other types of waste, substances, or articles. 

This can either be, for example, within a separate self-contained compartment on a multi-compartment vehicle or in separate vehicles.

The specified waste streams included under the separation requirements are:

  • food – for premises that produce more than 5kg of food waste a week.
  • paper and card
  • glass
  • plastic, cartons and metals and other fibre-plastic composite packaging of a similar composition
  • unsold small waste electrical and electronic equipment (sWEEE)
  • unsold textiles

You can mix paper and card together in the same container, and you can mix plastic, cartons and metal together. 

You need to separately collect food waste from workplaces that produce more than 5kg per week, otherwise it can be collected with the residual waste.   

You must comply with this whilst the waste is in your possession and when you transfer the waste to someone else. 

You do not have to collect the full range of separated waste. You could sub-contract the collection of certain materials if you need to, or the workplace occupier may want to have separate contracts with more than one collector.

Bans To Landfill and Incineration

Waste collectors and handlers need to be aware of the laws banning separately collected waste from domestic and non-domestic sources, from incineration and landfill.

The new laws also extend existing bans to landfill and incineration as detailed below.

Bans to landfill of the following materials where these have been separately collected:

  • Food waste
  • Plastic, metals and cartons
  • Paper and cardboard
  • Glass
  • sWEEE
  • Textiles

And a ban on all waste wood going to landfill.

Bans to incineration of the following materials where these have been separately collected:

  • Food waste
  • Plastic, metals and cartons
  • Paper and cardboard
  • Glass
  • sWEEE
  • Unsold textiles

How you can prepare your customers

As well as making sure you are ready, you may want to help your customers by:

  • Providing them with information about the new law and how the way they will need to present their waste for collection will change.
  • Providing a compliant collection service tailored to meet the needs of your customer, with reliable and regular collections.
  • Providing information on the types of materials in each waste stream that can be accepted for recycling in each container.
  • Giving information on how to use the service effectively. For example, by cleaning and drying materials to reduce contamination. 
  • Clearly labelling bins and containers to identify what materials should be included and excluded.
  • Considering a system of spot checks to check for any materials not being separated correctly, give feedback and help them put it right and have a clear policy and procedures for how you will deal with contamination issues.
  • Providing information on how the recycling will be managed, and how it will be recycled.

There are resources you can access for more help and information

This includes:

  • WRAPs new Business of Recycling Waleswebsite has materials and guidance you can share with customers.  There are now all material stream icons available to download, including one for plastic, cartons and metal. WRAP will also provide an updated waste audit guide which will help your customers understand what materials they currently have.
  • The Welsh Government has information about the workplace recycling changes: Workplace recycling | GOV.WALES
  • Welsh Governments Code of Practice which sets out everything that you need to do to comply with the regulations.
  • Waste Duty of Care
  • Waste classification

You can contact NRW if you need further advice, our contact details can be found by clicking here.

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