June 2013 – This BPU is about rubbish…

Author: Mitchells Roberton
Posted on:

The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012
as affecting businesses

  • That title of this BPU echoes one of Lady Smith’s Opinions in a recent case in the Court of Session: North Lanarkshire Council v Scottish Ministers and Shore Energy. The actual words of the opening sentence of her Opinion are:

“This case is about rubbish.”

  • This was not an oblique criticism of the nature of the case.  The case did, in fact, concern rubbish. Lady Smith went on:

“We are, it is said, a throwaway society. We have turned our backs on ‘make do and mend’. We have generated more and more waste … In 2008, in Scotland – a country with a population of only a little more than 5 million people – almost 20 million tonnes of waste was generated … This state of affairs cannot carry on. The need for a sea change in our attitude to and management of waste has now been recognised. It has been recognised at both European and domestic level. Hence the European legislation … and, also, the policies which have been formulated by Scottish Ministers … to address the problem, at the heart of which lies a “Zero Waste” target.”

  • Lady Smith refers to the fact that “the need for a sea change in our attitude to and management of waste has now been recognised … at both European and domestic level…” One aspect of this recognition at European level is the EU Directive 2008/98/EC on waste (OJ L 312, 22.11.2008) (“the Directive”). And one aspect of the recognition at domestic level is the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 (“the Regulations”) with which this Note is concerned. The Regulations derived from the Directive and concern businesses – not domestic households.
  • A different aspect of the general approach flagged up by Lady Smith was reflected in an article in the Sunday Times (23rd June 2013) by the Chief Executive of the charity “Keep Scotland Beautiful” which concluded:

“In 2014 the eyes of the world will be on Scotland as we host the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup, in addition to the year of Homecoming. When the world is watching I don’t want to see a Scotland with cigarette ends and chewing gum on our streets, fast-food bags at the side of our roads, dog dirt on our pavements, or abandoned sofas and televisions in our open rural spaces … “

  • The Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup, and the year of Homecoming will all be eagerly anticipated by many. 2014 is also the year when the Regulations (although passed in 2012) will actually start having effect. The Regulations are less likely to be eagerly anticipated. But they will have effect from 1st January 2014 which is not far away. Businesses will want to gear up for them.
  • There is a helpful website: http://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/ which contains extensive guidance and an easy-to-use tool to answer questions about the Regulations. This Note does not aim to replicate or summarise all that may be found there. It simply gives a brief overview of the Regulations and mentions two specific points.

The general gist of the Regulations


1.            From 1st January 2014 your business must arrange for each of the following different types of waste to be collected separately:

(a) glass;

(b) metals;

(c) plastics;

(d) paper; and

(e) card (including cardboard).

2.            From 1st January 2014, if you run a food business which produces over 50kg of food waste per week you must arrange for it to be separately collected.

3.            From 1st January 2016, if you run a food business which produces over 5kg of food waste per week you must arrange for it to be separately collected.

4.            If your food business is located in a rural area you are exempt from the food waste requirements.

Re-capping on the above with a little more of the nitty-gritty of the Regulations




  • Some of the terms used are given specific definitions by the Regulations which pin down the general meaning rather more precisely:
  • Controlled waste” means household, industrial and commercial waste or any such waste.
  • Dry recyclable waste” means controlled waste of the following types: (a) glass; (b) metals; (c) plastics; (d) paper; or (e) card (including cardboard).
  • Food business” means 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.
  • Food waste” means controlled waste that was at any time intended for human consumption and includes biodegradable waste produced as consequence of the processing or preparation of food.
  • Rural area” means a remote small town, accessible rural area or remote rural area as described by reference to postcode units in table 2 of “Defining Rural Areas and Non-Rural Areas to support Zero Waste Policies” published by the Scottish Government on 13th March 2012. (You can check if you are in a “rural area” by using the tool on the Zero Waste Scotland website: http://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/)


So, to re-cap on the general gist of the Regulations against the background of those definitions:


Dry recyclable waste


From 1st January 2014, it will be the duty of any person who produces controlled waste (other than an occupier of domestic property as respects household waste produced on the property) to take all reasonable steps to ensure the separate collection of dry recyclable waste.

Food waste


From 1st January 2014, it shall be the duty of any person who controls or manages a food business that produces controlled waste to take all reasonable steps to ensure the separate collection of food waste produced by the business. But this does not apply to food waste—

(a) produced on premises in a rural area;

(b) produced in the period beginning on 1st January 2014 and ending on 31st December 2015 by a business that produces less than 50 kilograms of food waste a week;

(c) produced, on or after 1st January 2016, by a business that produces less than 5 kilograms of food waste a week.

Two particular points


  • It is your duty to ensure your business waste is handled in line with the new Regulations so it may well be a good idea to speak to the organisation currently collecting your waste. They should explain how they will collect your waste in a way that complies with the Regulations – and what the cost implications may be.

Note: This material is for information purposes only and does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by us. You should not rely upon it in making any decisions or taking or refraining from taking any action. If you would like us to advise you on any of the matters covered in this material, please contact Paul Neilly: paul@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

Comments are closed.

Tags: ,