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Welsh Government urged to pause enforcement of new recycling law

06 Apr 2024 4 minute read
Picture by Dave Goodman (CC BY 2.0).

Emily Price

Calls have been made for the Welsh Government to consider implementing a pause on enforcement of the new workplace recycling law which came into force today.

Tory MS, James Evans has written to the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs Huw Irranca-Davies to raise concerns around the speed in which the regulations have been rolled out.

From Saturday (April 6), all workplaces in Wales will have to separate their waste for recycling and arrange for it to be collected separately.

The new law is being brought in to improve the quality and quantity of recycling and to help address the climate and nature emergency.


Businesses will need to separate food (if they produce more than 5kg of food waste per week), glass; paper and cardboard; and metals, plastics, and cartons; as well as unsold textiles and unsold small electricals.

The Welsh Government says that initially where non-compliance occurs, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) can provide advice and guidance as a first response.

However, for more serious incidents or persistent non-compliance, NRW have powers
to take a firmer approach – including both civil sanctions and criminal proceedings.

NHS hospitals and private hospitals will have an additional 2 years to comply with the rules.

In his letter to the climate change minister, Mr Evans said that despite agreeing with the intentions of the policy, compliance of the new rules for small businesses is “nigh on impossible.”

The Brecon and Radnorshire MS has called for a pause to any enforcement action until April 2025 because, he says, some businesses are still struggling to find waste operators to collect their recycling.

He said: “I am deeply concerned about the changes to the workplace recycling that are due to come into force this weekend.

“At a time when small businesses are facing significant financial pressures, many business owners are telling me they are fearful of people dumping rubbish in their bins and facing legal action as a result.

“I am calling on the Welsh Government to consider pausing enforcement of the regulations until April 2025 to give businesses the time to find solutions without fear of being fined or prosecuted.”


The Welsh Government says the new legislation will benefit the economy by capturing a “resilient supply of high-quality recycled materials” that can be used by manufacturing industries across Wales and beyond.

Over the last 20 years, Wales has gone from recycling less than 5%, to recycling 65% of its waste – it is now ranked third in the world for household waste recycling.

This helps to save around 400,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are introducing this legislation to improve how we manage waste, reduce the amount of waste we send to incineration and landfill and to improve the quality and quantity of recyclable materials we collect from workplaces so we can return these valuable materials to the Welsh economy.

“The reforms have been developed over the last 10 years with consultation and engagement at every stage. The costs of managing waste not recycled are likely to increase substantially over the next few years – recycling usually helps reduce the overall costs of managing waste.

“We encourage businesses to shop around for a recycling collection service. We are confident the majority of private waste companies and local authorities in Wales can already offer compliant collections or are planning to provide compliant collections by the coming into force date.

“We have been working with partners, including Business Wales and WRAP, to identify good practice in material separation and bin location; train and upskill staff; and optimise and rationalise systems to reduce waste and minimise costs.”

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1 month ago

There is absolutely no reason why businesses can’t, and shouldn’t recycle their waste 15 years ago my wife and I took over a village Inn the amount of plastic cardboard and glass generated was phenomenal. We repeatedly tried to get the local County Council to put in place recycling facilities for bushinesses but were told it wasn’t viable. In the end, we made weekly trips, taking cardboard and glass bottles to the local recycle centre. How ridiculous one pub generates more recyclable waste in a week than an entire street. Most businesses and business owners are sensible reliable, and is… Read more »

1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

We do but we did not need 4 seperate bins and 4 different pick up days and four times the cost to do it.
They should sort out housing, NHS and education first.

Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
1 month ago

Tories objecting for objecting sake.
They have nothing to offer Wales. Nothing.

1 month ago
Reply to  Nobby Tart

The Tories have a lot more to offer! Common sense to start with.

1 month ago

I think there has been plenty of warning about the changes. I don’t think this is something that should or needs to be rolled out slower. Let Wales be an exemplar for the rest of the UK.

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
1 month ago
Reply to  Carleen

We did it with 20mph we can do it with this.

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