Segregation regulation

Published:  17 June, 2014

Resource efficiency consultants, Dr Nia Owen and Dr Adam Read of Ricardo-AEA, reflect on how shopping centres should respond to new waste requirements. 

A key change is coming in the requirements for commercial waste producers in England and Wales from January 2015. Under the Waste Regulations, commercial waste producers - which includes the retail sector - will be required to separately collect glass, metal, paper and plastic except where it is not ‘technically, economically or environmentally practicable’ (TEEP).

So, if you are proposing any changes to your waste collection services, including renewing your current waste contract, you will need to consider TEEP in your decision, as you could be asked by the regulator – the Environment Agency or Natural Resources Wales – for evidence of your decision making process.

As a minimum, a commingled collection for dry recyclables mixed together in a single container, and a separate general waste bin for non-recyclable materials is likely to be needed, as it is recognised that some businesses may not have sufficient space for separate containers for plastics, glass, metals and paper, or that this may be too costly. However, all waste contractors should be able to offer the services that you require based on your assessment of TEEP and its application to your business.

The situation is a little different in Scotland, where there are already requirements for separate collections of recyclables under the Scottish Waste Regulations. Since January 2014, duties for Scottish businesses include presentation of metal, plastic, glass, paper and card for separate collection, and food businesses – including shopping centre food courts – where more than 50kg of food waste is produced per week, must also segregate the food waste for separate collection.

But, what does this mean for shopping centres in England and Wales? The landlord and facilities manager will need to ensure that the waste contractor complies with the new requirements and that appropriate collections are provided based on the requirements of the retailers and food service operations as set out in the regulations.

As a result shopping centres will need to review the existing waste infrastructure at their site, in conjunction with the requirements of the on-site retailers and food service operations, to identify whether changes will be needed. If further segregation is identified as a means of complying with TEEP, then extra receptacles – bins, skips etc – will be needed on-site, which must be serviced by a suitably qualified waste contractor.

Consideration will need to be given to the space available for the bins and the collection frequency needed based on the quantity of materials produced. Compactors and balers could be a viable option for some streams to reduce the space needed or the collection frequency.

Clearly, it is better to be prepared and to see these changes as an opportunity to drive better on-site solutions, rather than to ignore them and hope they go away.

After all, it might just save you money on your collection services if you ask the right questions. And if nothing else, compliance today will protect you from regulatory fines later on.

• Dr. Nia Owen is a principal consultant within Ricardo-AEA’s resource efficiency and waste management team.

• Dr. Adam Read is global practice director for Ricardo-AEA’s resource efficiency and waste management practice.

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