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Sepa tackles recycling non-compliance

One in five businesses in Scotland is ignoring the legal duty to recycle unwanted materials, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has revealed.

Inspections carried out by Sepa and local authorities of almost 7,000 Scottish businesses has shown that 60% are generally compliant, 20% are on their way to compliance with a “stubborn” 20% failing to comply.

Waste regulations in Scotland require businesses to separate for recycling:

  • Glass – including rinsed drinks bottles and food jars
  • Metal – including rinsed cans and tins
  • Plastic – including rinsed drinks bottles and food containers
  • Cardboard
  • Clean paper
  • Food waste from businesses unless exempt

Those failing to do so could potentially receive a £300 fixed monetary penalty (FMP).

Sepa has so far targeted around 80 of the most persistently non-compliant businesses to provide advice and take enforcement action if they do not respond.

It says that, as a result, around 70 businesses changed their behaviour, while two were issued with a £300 FMP for failure to separate their food waste. The remainder face enforcement action.

Eleanor Strain, senior policy officer for Sepa’s National Waste Unit, said: “It is important that all businesses in Scotland recognise their duty to recycle because non-compliance is not an option.

“There is still much to be done. But this initial work demonstrates that we have the right enforcement tools and that, by working together, we can change the behaviour of even the most persistent offenders.”

Strain said some businesses use on-street domestic or public bins to dispose of their waste without realising that the practice is illegal.

“We would urge businesses who are unaware of their recycling obligations to get in touch with their local Sepa office now. These businesses can also receive guidance and advice by contacting their waste contractor or Resource Efficient Scotland.”

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