New 2023 Waste Management Legislation in the UK

by | Jan 16, 2023 | Waste Management Service

A new year with new rules! Having waste management laws in place for commercial businesses and households alike is essential for human and environmental health. So why is the legislation changing?

We must adhere to the laws and rules nationwide or locally as a community. However, the rules can still change. Laws change all the time, and it isn’t any different for waste management legislation.

Disclaimer: the vast majority of this article will be about food waste laws, which is what is changing the most. However, other commercial sectors can still be affected by other changing statutes – such as bulky collections and commercial recycling – discussed later in the article.

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Environment Act 2021

Why are we mentioning a law back in 2021? Because this particular act is coming into full effect this year! The ban on macerators was implemented in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland some time ago (Scotland in 2014). The next step in the process will be for us in England to follow suit in 2023 and implement other legislation within the act.

Macerator Definition

If you are unaware, this machinery is used to separate and soften waste using a solvent. The solvent ensures the food waste decomposes adequately. It is also referred to as a food waste disposer sometimes.

macerator illustration showing two streams of waste

Why Were Macerators Banned?

By dumping food waste into a macerator bench unit, the waste is chopped up and flushed (using large amounts of water) into drain systems. So, with this act, an unsustainable and environmentally unfriendly practice will finally stop!

Likewise, liquidising digesters turn food waste into mush with enzymes and hot water before dumping it into sewers, so they are also being targeted.

There will be significant impacts on the following establishments:

  • Restaurants
  • Hospitals
  • Universities
  • Schools
  • Military barracks
  • Prisons
  • Hotels
  • Many other different catering establishments

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Separation of Food Waste

As a business, there will be a significant upheaval in food waste disposal. This multi-faceted approach has a few nuances that you should consider to avoid receiving a nasty fine. The changes in the legislation include:

  • Your food waste will need to be collected as a separate waste stream if you still need to do so.
  • You will start receiving bills for food waste disposal, another overhead expense.
  • You will have to submit an annual food waste return detailing how much waste you have thrown away.

There are only a couple of ways a business can be exempt from these new laws:

  • Your food waste volume is less than 5kg per day.
  • You have a rural exemption.

If either applies to your business, you can continue putting your food waste in the general waste disposal wheelie bin.

Extra Note: In rural areas, waste collection is difficult, but now there will be more waste to collect, bins to store, and suppliers to deal with.

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Why is this Waste Management Legislation Necessary?

Although it should be enough for the environmental and sustainability impact, there are still other benefits for this new separation of food waste taking place.

This is a time of opportunity for the hospitality and food service industries, as legislative requirements require them to comply by 2023.

Preventing waste in the first place is undoubtedly the ideal scenario when considering the waste hierarchy. However, this isn’t always possible for restaurants and hotels. As well as requiring consumers to make environmentally conscious decisions about the amount of food they order, food preparation off-cuts are unavoidable.

Ultimately, hospitality businesses can contribute to the long-term, positive change that our planet needs by reducing third-party disposal fees, complying with regulations, and working towards a more sustainable future.

Despite being that third party, we are passionate about a sustainable future, so cutting down on waste is excellent! But we are here if you still need our waste management services.

Critical Problems With This New Waste Management Legislation

Supply and demand will undoubtedly increase as hundreds of thousands of tonnes of household food waste must be disposed of. The changes to the Environment Bill could, however, cause our infrastructure to be stretched beyond its capacity because more commercial food waste will be entering the market as a result.

Furthermore, we have a terrible record of separating our waste. In response to this, the UK’s infrastructure continues to struggle to deal with the contaminants that businesses and households continue to produce.

We need to invest in more plants and better systems so our infrastructure can cope with contaminants they never wanted at a time when capacity is already stretched. The price rises to fund this will, however, be inevitable.

The UK’s Environment Agency is working to resolve the problem of food waste contamination.

A manual separation system is likely more effective than an AD plant’s screening system, given that the latter may not remove smaller items from food waste, such as bottle tops. This problem will only get worse as the UK’s waste volumes increase. Councils will likely be penalised financially for not supplying the volume of waste promised if they reject contaminated loads – increasing the quantity of methane gas entering the atmosphere.

The final takeaway from the new food waste law: a collaborative effort is needed! This is in the whole waste hierarchy – from government legislation to households and businesses to waste management services and facilities. We can make the world a better place!

Contact us today for waste management legislation info

garbage sorting illustration showing e-waste, plastic, metal, glass, paper, organic waste streams

Changes to Recycling Legislation

Last year, the UK only required businesses to dispose of food waste hygienically, protecting fresh food preparation from cross-contamination. Recycling was not required. The mandatory separation of food waste has been introduced now, with a target of 75% recycling by 2030, which is expected to change this.

But what other recycling goals are there with the new laws in 2023?

The UK government has primarily focused its waste policy on household waste despite businesses operating in the country having a legal duty to adequately and sustainably dispose of their waste. Under current legislation, organisations must prevent waste, reuse and recycle whenever possible, with disposal as a last resort.

The government currently levies environmental taxes on businesses to encourage them to operate in more environmentally friendly methods.

DEFRA conducted a public consultation on proposed changes to waste management legislation back in 2019, in which most respondents favoured a separate collection of food waste each week.

The policy statement issued by DEFRA after this consultation was:

“Legislate to modernise the government’s powers to set producer responsibility obligations, extending them to prevention and redistribution of waste, so that we can tackle the moral scandal that is food waste.”

As a result of the newly enacted legislation, the UK government has confirmed that household and commercial waste collection will be separated into dry and organic waste bins.

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Persistent Organic Pollutants Legislation

Moving away from food waste, another aspect of the UK waste management legislation was recently announced by the Environment Agency that effective 1 January 2023, all upholstered household furniture containing Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) must be incinerated and not be put into the landfill. And this goes for businesses and households.

What are POPs?

These toxic chemicals, sometimes called “forever chemicals,” remain intact for long periods and eventually accumulate in our food supply. Human health and the environment are adversely affected by these chemicals.

As a precaution, the Environment Agency has warned that waste upholstered seating containing polychlorinated biphenyls (POPs) must be incinerated rather than landfilled or recycled in case the harmful materials contaminate any food it may accidentally touch. However, this should hopefully lessen now that food and general waste segregation has been enacted.

Items from both households and businesses will include:

  • Office chairs
  • Chair cushions
  • Sofas
  • Upholstered footstools
  • Bean bags

However, there are some exceptions to this, such as:

  • Bedframes
  • Deckchairs
  • Curtains
  • Blinds
  • Mattresses
  • Non- upholstered chairs (like wooden dining table chairs)

Although upholstered furniture waste may not contain POPs, it is recommended to assume that it all has POPs since POP detection would require laboratory testing. From 2023, you should think of these types of bulky waste as hazardous.

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We hope this article has broken down the new laws easily and understandably so as not to overwhelm you! If you want more information on how the UK government will help businesses and households recycle more, check their press release.

Inspire Waste Management offers waste services anywhere in the UK

Our experienced, expert staff will help you navigate the complex rules for dealing with hazardous waste, electronic and electrical waste, and confidential waste.

We’ll help you get the best price for bulk recycling, and get the right skips, tankers, compactors, or balers for your business.

We’ll also help you make the most of your budget with our waste consultancy and project planning and transparent, flat rate quotes.

So, when it comes to your waste, it pays to get Inspire-d!

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