Awareness of the Waste (Scotland) Regulations remains low, but a new campaign and communications initiative has come at just the right time according to experts.

From January, almost every organisation will have to recycle their plastic, metal, glass, paper and card. Food businesses that produce more than 50kg of food waste per week will also be required to separate it for collection.

There will be some exemptions, in particular for those in rural areas, with businesses advised to use the postcode search tool for more information.

Regulators will have the power to fine firms that are not compliant, but have insisted that they will be taking a “pragmatic approach”.

National operations waste unit manager at SEPA (the Scottish Environment Protection Agency), Adrian Bond, said he will be working in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) to raise awareness of the new laws and there will be a sensible, but not soft, approach to compliance.

“Over the last year, the progress made by businesses to engage in recycling has been encouraging and we are confident that the support available from ourselves, Resource Efficient Scotland and local authorities will help drive home the importance of preparing for the coming changes.”

Others have welcomed the campaign. Jamie Pitcairn, a director at consultancy firm Ricardo-AEA which will be manning some of the business helplines, told edie that now is the perfect time to make the “big push” in communicating the new laws to all those affected – and the benefits of compliance.

The Waste (Scotland) Regulations were passed by the Scottish Parliament in May 2012 and are seen by some as the biggest policy shift since the Landfill Tax was introduced.

New estimates from Zero Waste Scotland indicate that Scotland is currently paying £95m in landfill taxes to throw away key recyclates valued at £97m. The regulations also offer the potential to boost Scotland’s economy and create green jobs, and will play a key role in helping Scotland reach its target of 70% recycling of all waste by 2025.

Research by the Food Waste Network in Scotland, due to be published in November, has found that “few businesses” are aware of the regulations and their benefits. However, attitudes changed once the benefits were explained.

David Burrows

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