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New rules for commercial recycling

From 6 April 2024, new Welsh Government rules will come into force. All non-domestic premises will need to separate recyclable materials from other waste.

This will improve the quality and quantity of how commercial recycling is collected and separated across Wales.

What are the separation requirements?

These new rules apply to businesses, the public sector and charities. When you put out waste for collection, you need to make sure each type of specified recyclable waste is separated into different types. This is referred to hereafter to as the 'occupier's separation requirements'.

What materials are banned from being put in a general waste wheeled bin/white bag?

There are specified recyclable waste materials split into separate waste streams. These need to be separated for collection by the customer. We will collect them separately and keep them separate after collection. These are:

  1. food waste produced by premises producing more than 5kg of food waste a week;
  2. paper and card;
  3. glass;
  4. metal,
  5. plastic,
  6. cartons and other similar packaging (referred to hereafter collectively as 'cartons');
  7. unsold small electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE);
  8. unsold textiles.

What waste am I responsible for on the premises I am occupying?

You are responsible for all the waste on the premises you are occupying. These include waste produced by your staff, visitors and contractors or vendors working on the premises.

What is classed as a 'non-domestic premises'?

Non-domestic premises covers any premises except a domestic property or a caravan that someone lives in as a home.

Non-domestic premises under the Regulations include, but are not limited to:

  • Agricultural premises - including for horticulture, fruit and seed growing, dairy farming, livestock breeding and keeping, grazing and meadow land, osier land (growing willow), market gardens and nursery grounds;
  • Bars and public houses;
  • Bed and breakfasts, hotels;
  • Bus stations, railway stations, seaports, airports, heliports;
  • Campsites and caravan parks; caravans: used for the provision of self-catering accommodation, or which hold a licence or planning permission preventing the caravan being used for human habitation throughout the year;
  • Care and nursing homes;
  • Construction sites (excluding repair or extension work on existing domestic properties);
  • Educational establishments like universities, colleges and schools;
  • Entertainment and sports venues, including leisure centres
  • Factories;
  • Garages for vehicle servicing and repair;
  • Garden centres;
  • Heritage buildings;
  • Holiday accommodation, e.g. self-catering holiday lets, holiday parks/resorts;
  • Hospitals;
  • Libraries and museums;
  • Licensed premises within the meaning of the Licensing Act 2003
  • Offices;
  • Pharmacies, GP surgeries, dental surgeries and other primary care facilities;
  • Places of worship;
  • Prisons;
  • Residential homes;
  • Restaurants and cafes;
  • Service stations and petrol stations;
  • Shops and shopping centres;
  • Show grounds;
  • Venues for outdoor markets;
  • Venues for temporary events like festivals;
  • Warehouses;
  • Workshops.

What is an 'occupier of non-domestic premises'?

All occupiers of non-domestic premises must keep to the occupier's separation requirements.

In most circumstances the occupier for the purposes of the Regulations will be the person who presents waste for collection from the premises. This includes by a waste collection authority or by any other person/contractor.

The following are examples of who would most likely be considered the occupier for the purposes of the occupier's separation requirements:

ScenarioOwner/ operator
Occupier business, retail or hospitality parks with multiple units and communal waste collectionOccupier of each individual unit
Events such as festivals, concerts and showsEvent organiser
Construction sitesPrimary contractor
Non-residential caravan parks and campsitesSite owner/ operator
HotelsOwner/ operator
Self-catering holiday accommodationOwner/ operator
Bus, coach, train stationsOwner/ operator
Contract caterers operating out of third party premises (eg schools)Owner/ operator

Sites with multiple business occupancy (for example a business or retail park) may have a single contract for waste collection. We would expect the tenancy agreement to include a requirement for the tenants to meet the separation requirements.

It will be each individual occupier who will have the legal obligation to keep to the occupier's separation requirements.

The occupier may, for example, own the premises, or lease or rent it, or temporarily occupy it with the permission of the land owner. This would include sports events - e.g. running, cycling or swimming events.

Who is enforcing the new legislation?

Natural Resources Wales

What could happen if Natural Resources Wales find the occupier of the non-domestic premises has the banned recyclable materials in their general waste?

Occupiers could face a £300 for every offence.

What will happen to the waste if there are banned materials in the general waste we collect?

Swansea Council will have the right to refuse to collect the waste. We could receive a £500 fine if we are caught collecting waste with the banned recyclable materials.

What is 'duty of care'?

The separation requirements complement the waste duty of care requirements. The duty of care legislation makes provision for the safe management of waste to protect human health and the environment. The Environmental Protection Act (EPA) creates a duty of care for anyone producing or dealing with controlled waste. These include to keep it safe, make sure it is dealt with responsibly and only given to businesses authorised to take it.

The duty of care code of practice applies to anyone who produces, carries, keeps, disposes of, treats, imports or has control of certain waste in England or Wales. The duty of care code of practice is issued under section 34(7) of the EPA. It can be accessed here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/waste-duty-ofcare-code-of-practice (opens new window)

Items which are already banned from the general waste wheeled bins/white bags

Waste items that are hazardous. This is waste that is harmful to humans or the environment. Examples of hazardous waste include:

  • asbestos;
  • chemicals, like brake fluid or print toner;
  • batteries;
  • solvents;
  • pesticides;
  • oils (except edible ones), like car oil;
  • equipment containing ozone depleting substances, like fridges;
  • hazardous waste containers.

A summary of key steps

As an occupier of a non-domestic premises it is reasonable for you to also do the following on your premises:

  • Maintain the quality of the specified separated materials presented for separate collection. This is to help high quality recycling.
  • Use a waste contractor who will collect one or more of the separate recyclable waste streams as specified.
  • Maintain a good dialogue with your waste contractor. This is so everyone who produces waste at your premises are aware of what needs to be separated for recycling and what can be put in general waste.
  • Give training to your staff so they understand what is needed to meet the separation requirements.
  • Make sure good information and clear signage is given to staff and visitors. This is so they know the waste materials that should and should not be separated for recycling.

If you are a customer of our Commercial Waste Service and would like more information on the new legislation please contact us by emailing commercial.waste@swansea.gov.uk. The latest information and guidance from Welsh Government can be found on the Separated waste collections for workplaces page on their website.

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