Zero waste regulations: policy statement

Our policy statement on zero waste regulations.

5. Source Segregation and Separate Collection

5.1 Presentation and collection of recyclables from businesses

The consultation showed wide support for prioritising high levels of closed loop recycling. i.e. recycling a waste material into the same original material or product- glass to glass, or paper to paper. The producer of waste, through their management at source, determines the value which can subsequently be derived from that material. In order to maintain a high resource value, it is vital that recyclable materials are separated from other wastes at source.

It is widely recognised that the waste management industry through their regular engagement with waste producers (their customers) have an important role to play in communicating how best to adapt to, utilise and exploit the benefits of the new recycling services and waste management approaches that will need to be delivered to ensure compliance with the Regulations. The new approach to waste management being introduced under these regulations represents real opportunity for the waste management sector as the sale of recyclate to the reprocessing market makes up an increasing proportion of revenue. It is only right however that waste producers receive support and guidance on the most cost effective approach to managing their waste and in the adoption of new services. Scottish Government will, in consultation with the industry, seek to explore how best this can be delivered.

As set out in the consultation we intend to bring forward a statutory requirement for all waste producers (with the exception of householders) to separate the key dry recyclables (glass, metal, plastic, paper and card) and food at source. This duty will apply to all waste producers including, for example, shops, offices, factories, restaurants, schools and hospitals, whether public or private.

We intend to retain the date set out in the consultation for source segregation and separate collection of dry recyclables- 2013. We also intend to retain the ban on mixing separately collected wastes with other waste where such mixing would hinder future recycling.

The consultation also set out our intentions to introduce a requirement on those involved in food production, food retail or food preparation to present food waste for collection separately from all other wastes. This included premises involved in food manufacture, canteens, kitchens, schools, restaurants and supermarkets. We intend to retain this requirement. For the avoidance of doubt, the requirement to present food separately for collection extends to commercially organised concerts, exhibitions, shows or sporting events where food is being prepared and/or sold. The requirement to present food waste separately for collection will not apply to premises where no food is produced on, prepared on or sold from that premises and the requirement will only apply where a food waste collection service is available.

In recognition of the practicable challenges that food waste collection presents to some businesses, particularly small business with limited space, we intend to phase the introduction of segregation and separate collection of food waste to create a longer lead in time for small businesses involved in food production, food retail or food preparation. For all medium to large businesses (based upon FTE), we intend to retain the 2013 date for source segregation and separate food waste collection. For small businesses the requirement will be moved to 2015. For commercial shows, exhibitions, concerts and sporting events the requirement will apply from 2013.

With respect to the health sector, we are acutely aware of the need to ensure that the collection and movement of waste does not impact on measures or practices in place to control the spread of infection. The Regulations will therefore include provisions to this effect.

To assist businesses in adapting to and meeting the requirements of the Regulations Zero Waste Scotland is delivering support through various programmes. It is anticipated that the scope of this support will continue to be expanded in response to the needs of the business sector. Examples of the type of support presently available are provided in Box 1.

BOX 1: Zero Waste Scotland - Examples of Business Support Programmes

Free online training courses have been designed to give SMEs the tools needed to improve their resource efficiency and environmental performance, and identify the associated economic benefits.

Food & Drink Sector
Food and drink manufacturers and apply for free Resource Optimisation Reviews. These reviews look at the full range of activities on site in order to identify opportunities to cut costs, improve efficiency and maximise environmental benefits.

Construction Sector
Support is available to the public sector, major contractors, house builders and major designers in a variety of areas including procurement document reviews, management system reviews for waste recording and reporting and the provision of awareness and training sessions.

Compost Producers (Waste Management Sector)
Free consultancy support is available to compost producers and operators of anaerobic digestion facilities to achieve certification to PAS100 and PAS110.

Food Waste Collections & infrastructure
Grant funding is available to assist with meeting start-up costs for commercial food waste services or additional infrastructure at existing treatment facilities.

5.2 The Use of Food Waste Disposal Units

The Scottish Government intends to supplement the requirement for source segregation and separate collection of food waste with a ban on the non-domestic use of food waste disposal units (macerators) and food waste digesters where the 'treated' food is discharged into public sewers directly or indirectly.

The key drivers for this ban are to ensure that the resource value of food waste can be realised and that we manage food waste in compliance with Article 4 of the revised Waste Framework Directive which requires Member States to apply the hierarchy as a priority order in waste prevention and management legislation and policy. The ban will deliver this by maximising the availability of material for collection and treatment in anaerobic digestion facilities that are able to meet the industry standard that enables the digestate to be used by farmers under conditions set by Quality Meat Scotland. This ban will be aligned with the roll out of separate food waste collection services to small businesses and will come into effect from the end of 2015.

Many other countries throughout Europe have banned or intend to ban the use of food macerators. In some cases it is to ensure that the resource value of food waste, as a source of energy and high quality fertiliser is realised; in other instances it is in response to the impact the material has on the sewer network. Water companies advise that the disposal of macerated food waste into the sewer network increases the risk of blockages, sewer flooding, environmental pollution, odours and rodent infestations. Indeed, both Water UK and Scottish Water advise that the loss of flow capacity and associated risk of flooding caused by the build-up of fat, oil, grease and other debris is already a major concern and something that the sewer network was never designed to deal with.

5.3 Local Authority Recycling Services

As outlined in our consultation, we intend to introduce a requirement on local authorities to offer separate collection of glass, metals, plastics, paper and card to householders by 2013. In the same way as the current duties on local authorities to offer black bag waste collection services to householder and businesses, this new duty will apply to householders and to businesses. This will ensure that businesses, particularly small business receive a minimum level of service.

In our consultation, we indicated that there would also be a requirement to collect textiles. In response to views expressed during the consultation, which included concerns over competition for materials with charities, we have decided not to place a statutory requirement on local authorities to collect textiles. The decision on whether to collect textiles will be at the discretion of individual councils. Local authorities will wish to note that the use of both recycling points and bring banks as part of an overall separate collection service is acceptable. Section 3.2 provides information on the comingling of dry recyclates.

The consultation also set out our proposals for introducing food waste collection services to households. With support from Zero Waste Scotland (BOX 2), many local authorities are already introducing food waste collection services.

We are however keenly aware of the importance of providing a practicable lead in time for introducing this service, particularly as the success of the services is dependent on changes in behaviours and practice by householders. We therefore intend to provide with a longer lead in time for rolling out food waste collection services. Local authorities will be required to have initiated the roll-out of a household food waste collection programme by end of 2013, and to have completed roll-out by end of 2015.

An important point raised by local authorities in our consultation was the need for clarity on where it will be economically, environmentally or practicable to roll out food waste collection. The Regulations will therefore identify areas of the country based on population density and travel distance between towns where local authorities will be required to offer separate collection of food waste from households and businesses. These areas will be based upon the Scottish Government urban rural classification [3], and will cover the following ( Annex 1):

  • large urban areas (with a population over 125,000);
  • other urban areas (with a population of 10,000 to 125,000); and
  • accessible small towns (with a population of 3000 to 10,000) and within 30 minutes drive of a settlement of 10,000 or more.

In recognition of the challenges currently facing local authorities in providing a food waste collection service to high density housing ( e.g. high rises greater than 4 floors), the statutory requirement to collect food waste will be limited to households that can present a bin to kerbside. However, providing food waste collection to areas of high density housing will be important to achieving the zero waste plan targets. Some local authorities are already trialling collection systems for tenements, and we expect local authorities to work together and with the waste management industry and Zero Waste Scotland to develop collection systems suited to the unique challenges presented by high density housing.

To support this work, a collaborative project between COSLA, Zero Waste Scotland and SEPA is already underway to develop best practice guidance on collection services for use by local authorities, which will provide an avenue for sharing experiences between local authorities.

Where separate food waste collection is not being offered, there will be a requirement on local authorities to promote actions to prevent food waste and/or home/community composting. To assist in delivering this action Zero Waste Scotland has put in place a PAS100 support scheme for community composting groups. Under this scheme grants will be provided to assist community composting groups in meeting the costs associated with achieving PAS100 accreditation.

As outlined in Section 3, the Scottish Government also intends to issue guidance on the waste hierarchy. Upon advice from local authorities, the Government may issue further guidance to support roll out of the Regulations, which could include guidance on offering collection services in areas of high density housing.

BOX 2 Food waste support programme

In March 2010, Zero Waste Scotland rolled out its food waste programme. This programme provides technical and financial support to local authorities and businesses to help them make the important transition to food waste collection. Since the programme was established, 21 Councils have expressed an interest in the support available from Zero Waste Scotland and Scottish Futures Trust. In the main, this support has been from Councils wishing to establish a business case for the rollout of food waste to households. There has also been a number of requests for support from the private sector wishing to take advantage of the funding that is available.

Zero Waste Scotland also provides technical support and householder campaign support to Councils. 22 Councils took advantage of this support in 2010/11 and there are a number of Councils already engaged with both technical and campaign support this year. Targeted and intensive campaigns with recycling advisers speaking to people on their doorstep, have been demonstrated to drive up participation in recycling, even in locations that have been traditionally difficult to engage with.

5.4 Food vs Bio waste

Available evidence indicates that separate weekly collection of food waste typically delivers the highest yields, the best environmental outcomes and is likely to be less expensive than systems collecting food and garden waste together on the same frequency - mainly down to the fact that when food waste is collected and managed separately it allows garden waste to be treated using lower cost methods such as windrow composting. It is likely that as the costs of residual waste management increase over time, the benefits of separate food waste collections will also increase.

The Scottish Government's preference is therefore for separate collection of food waste from households, businesses and other premises e.g. schools, hospitals. Wherever possible, food waste collected separately should be treated in PAS compliant Anaerobic Digestion ( AD) facilities as this provides scope to capture the methane produced during processing to produce energy. The residues from the AD process can be used as a nutrient rich soil conditioner, thereby replacing manufactured chemical fertilisers. Food waste to AD can also help contribute to:

  • Scotland's zero waste recycling targets;
  • 2020 Landfill Directive target on biodegradable waste;
  • achievement of Renewable Heat targets;
  • improving the sustainability of food production through the use of biofertilisers.

In some circumstances, for instance where there is access to a dry AD facility, where there is existing in-vessel-composting infrastructure and/or where a weekly garden waste collection service is available, a co-mingled biowaste (food and garden waste) collection may provide a similar environmental outcome to separate food waste collection.

For these reasons, we intend to permit co-mingled garden and food collection services where they can be demonstrated to deliver equivalent or better environmental outcomes as a separate food waste collection service. Key to achieving an equivalent outcome is achieving similar yields for food waste.

The business case analysis for food waste collections that is being undertaken by Zero Waste Scotland on behalf of local authorities across Scotland will provide the evidence needed to determine which collection service is appropriate for individual local authorities. The Scottish Government does not intend to create enforcement arrangements to police decisions by individual local authorities. However, if need be, further guidance may be issued to ensure that local authorities apply common principles when determining their preferred approach to rolling out a food waste collection service.

Following reception at treatment facility, we intend to include provision that would allow for the blending of food wastes with other suitable organic waste materials to facilitate the efficient and effective treatment of the food waste at that facility. This will allow separate food waste collection systems to be offered without restricting that use of facilities ( e.g. In Vessel Composting) that require garden waste to form part of their feedstock.

5.5 Availability of recycling information to the pubic

Presenting reliable and understandable information to the public on what happens to recycled materials will be key to supporting the behavioural changes needed to deliver the step changes in recycling rates required to deliver the zero waste plan targets- if we expect the public to do more we must retain, and where necessary, build trust in recycling (BOX 3).

In addition to these actions and the actions being taken forward by individual local authorities, we still see an opportunity to provide the public and other stakeholders with clear and accurate information on how waste is being managed in their area.

We are therefore in discussion with COSLA on the roll out of a voluntary commitment with all local authorities to produce biennial reports setting out:

  • a summary of the destination of material collected for recycling;
  • actions to apply the waste hierarchy so as to encourage options that deliver the best overall environmental outcome;
  • actions being taken to coordinate investment in infrastructure to promote high quality and quantities of recyclables;

Our intention is to work with COSLA to develop appropriate templates and guidance that will ensure that these reports are short, focused and tailored to the target audience- the public. If agreement can not be reached through COSLA and its members prior to the Regulations being laid before parliament, our intention is to introduce a statutory requirement to produce and publish these reports.

BOX 3: New recycling services- Scottish local authorities

Local authorities across Scotland are already taking important steps to meet the ambitious agenda set out by the Government's Zero Waste Plan. Examples include:

City of Edinburgh Council began the rollout of food waste collections to 20,000 households in April this year, including 5,000 high-density households. They now have plans, supported by Zero Waste Scotland, to roll this service out to households across Edinburgh.

Fife council have rolled out a new collection service which has seen recycling rates of up to 65%. The new collection service focused on a simple swap in the size of the bin used to collect waste for landfill allied to the provision of new recycling services for food waste, cans and plastics.

East Ayrshire Council rolled out a food waste collection and plastics collection to 10,000 households in December 2010. The Council have been overwhelmed with the response from residents and are expecting to exceed 40% recycling. Responding to the success of this initiative, the Council are considering the options to expand the service.

Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, North Ayrshire, Perth & Kinross and Inverclyde Councils are all either planning to, or already have in place, an integrated waste strategy encompassing all waste streams from all sectors, in line with the Zero Waste Plan and meeting the requirements of the Regulations.


Email: Central Enquiries Unit

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