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Scottish SMEs lagging behind on waste regulations change

Smaller companies in Scotland may struggle to adapt to upcoming waste managing regulations, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

As part of the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012, which will come into effect on 1 January 2014, businesses will be required to present metal, plastic, glass, paper and card for separate collection.

Those that produce over 50kg of food waste per week will also need to present food waste for separate collection.

FSB Scottish policy convenor Andy Willox described the regulations as “the biggest change to how business waste is collected and disposed of in the last 30 years”, and told MRW many businesses may not be ready.

“Polling conducted earlier this year suggested that only one in four Scottish small businesses were aware of the changes,” he added.

Businesses will almost certainly face a one-off administrative cost to develop new waste procedures. “Some businesses may need to invest in waste storage facilities and this might be difficult for firms which operate from small premises,” Willox said.

While acknowledging that small businesses may be less prepared to adapt to the new regulations than larger ones, David Martin, public affairs and policy adviser at the Scottish Retail Consortium, told MRW that the changes would be unlikely to significantly affect companies.

“Many Scottish businesses have already been recycling for a very long time, so the transition is not going to be terribly onerous,” he said.

According to Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS), around 70% of Scottish firms were already recycling and operating some level of materials separation.

Jon Molyneux, head of engagement at ZWS, told MRW that the organisation’s campaign on the new regulations was gaining momentum, and he was confident that businesses would be ready to comply with the new requirements.

He said: “We are focusing on small businesses to make them aware that as cost of landfill is going up, there is a cost-benefit from segregating materials. This is a big opportunity for Scotland to unlock the financial value of the recyclable materials.”

For the FSB, Willox said collaboration between local authorities and waste management companies would be essential to ease the transition for its members.

“Will waste services providers give clear advice to businesses confused by the changes? Will councils understand that there’s bound to be a little bit of confusion during the changes and resist fining businesses in the process of adapting to the regulations? All of this will make a big difference to the changeover process,” he said.

ZWS and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency have been holding seminars on the new regulations since September 2012.

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