In January 2014, waste regulations changed for Scottish businesses, both big and small.  Whether you are an independent retailer or a multinational organisation; these changes apply under the amendment to the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012.

What’s Different?

Waste materials must now be separated for recycling. You may already recycle, but businesses are now legally obliged to recycle materials properly, including separating the different materials.

Food waste must now be disposed of separately. This only applies to businesses in urban areas. You are considered a food business if you are “an undertaking, whether for profit or not, and whether public or private, carrying out any activity related to the processing, distribution, preparation or sale of food”. Premises used to consume food brought from elsewhere, such as office staff rooms are exempt; however, work canteens are included in these new requirements. Additionally, it is now illegal to dispose of food waste into public sewers or drains. Please see for the full list of what is considered a food business.

You can also use this online postcode checker to see if your business falls under these new regulations.

Why make these changes?

Food waste is harmful to the environment. It needlessly uses up energy and water that goes into producing the food, while the waste emits methane gas into the atmosphere. Food waste also costs money – the average household alone wastes the equivalent of £35 per month (£420 per year), and the cost for food businesses is much higher.

Properly separated food waste can be turned into energy. Did you know- food waste within Scotland alone is enough to power Inverness?

As a nation, we are spending £95 million per year to throw away resources valued over £97 million. Recycling can help save money and allow us to hold onto valuable resources. Properly recycling food waste can also help businesses save on disposal costs while also benefitting the environment.

Avoid fines. Badly sorted or incorrect waste may result in rejection by your waste collector, leading to increased charges and possibly even a fine. However, in some cases recyclables can be ‘co-mingled’. Co-mingling describes recyclables that can be collected together to be sorted at a Materials Recycling Facility. This is only acceptable for certain materials, such as glass and plastic bottles. ‘Wet’ waste such as food, or other materials such as paper cannot be co-mingled, so please check with your collector or local authority if you are unsure.

What should you do now?


You can find out further information for free about what you should be doing from your local authority, your waste collector or a Business Gateway Adviser. You can also consider working together with other businesses in your local area to share the waste management costs, while communal recycling storage space also limits the individual space required.

If you employ staff, you should also make them aware of the new regulations to ensure your business is operating consistently within these new regulations.

For more information, please visit the Resource Efficient Scotland website.

If you have a business and would like help to develop it, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch and see how our free advice and support can help:

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