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Concern at implementation of Scotland's food waste law

Recycling firms have expressed concern over the implementation of Scotland’s mandatory food waste requirements for businesses.

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) executive director Jacob Hayler told the Efra select committee there were mixed views from the organisation’s members about whether the scheme could be rolled out across the UK.

Since January 2016, any Scottish business producing more than 5kg of food waste a week has had to collect the material separately under the Waste (Scotland) Regulations.

Hayler said the requirement had led to more contamination due to businesses that “would not have ordinarily participated” being forced to do so and subsequently not separating the material in the correct manner.

“There are also a lot of concerns about enforcement and how the separate requirement was being enforced if at all,” he said.

Later, Hayler told MRW there had been a low uptake due to a lack of enforcement. Large parts of the country were exempt from the regulation, he said, which affected efficient planning of collection routes.

“Greater amounts of food waste are inadvertently ending up in the dry mixed recyclables,” he added.

But Hayler said the regulation had led to more investment in anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities because it helped to remove uncertainty around feedstock to the plants.

Asked at the meeting whether the scheme could be rolled out in the UK he said there were mixed views within the ESA.

He said: “I would say certainly if it was introduced and enforced properly, there is support within our membership for mandatory separate food waste collections for commercial properties subject to TEEP.”

He added that the ESA were working on a more thorough assessment of the implementation of the Scottish regulations.

Hayler also said there was a question over how much businesses are scrutinised by the EA for considering the waste hierarchy in their waste management plans.

There was flexibility for companies not to adhere to the hierarchy if they could prove their alternative disposal method had a superior environmental impact, he added.

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