The time has come for businesses and organisations across Scotland to ensure they are 100% ready for the new Waste (Scotland) Regulations, which came into effect last week (January 1). As producers and collectors of waste, local authorities will be at the leading edge of implementing the new regulations. They will be the main gatekeepers of advice and information so it is essential that key staff are able to provide advice on the ground and through the main communications platforms, such as websites.

With household recycling rates already increasing from less than 5% to over 40% in the past decade, the contribution local authorities have already made to working towards Scotland’s zero waste targets is commendable. Over a million households in Scotland now have access to a food waste collection. The new regulations will further drive this increase, with a minimum recycling service being made available to all.

Local authorities will be required to provide this service, but those who go beyond compliance are most likely to reap the benefits of the regulations – a rich supply of quality materials which can be recycled again and again.

Under the new regime, any food business which produces over 50kg of food waste per week must now present it for separate collection. That requirement to separate food waste for collection will extend to all food businesses producing over 5kg of food waste per week from January 1 2016. However, food businesses in rural areas will be exempt from the food waste requirements of the regulations.

With an ambitious target set by the Scottish Government of 70% recycling and just 5% of waste going to landfill by 2025, Zero Waste Scotland is working alongside waste and resource management companies to help them achieve this – we have already delivered a range of support for businesses and local authorities. Organisations can also source free, specialist support at Resource Efficient Scotland – a central hub for specialist advice to business on energy, water and raw materials.

We have worked hard with local authorities both directly and through COSLA to help them get ready for the changes. Many businesses will be looking to councils for information and guidance. It is essential that collection staff are familiar with the regulations and also with any new local collections planned. With this in mind, local authorities can apply for funding from the Local Recycling Community Fund to engage communities, raise awareness of recycling and ultimately increase the quantity and quality of recycled materials collected.

We also encourage all organisations, including local authorities to sign up to Scotland’s Resource Sector Commitment. A voluntary initiative through which signatories demonstrate support for Scotland’s zero waste ambitions and state their commitment to delivering clearer and more flexible contracts, high-quality, innovative resource management services and resource efficiency advice. North Ayrshire Council and South Ayrshire Council are lead signatories to the initiative.

There has never been a more pertinent time for businesses to address the issue of waste management and, in many cases, save a bit of money in the process. It is fair to say organisations will now be looking at their waste from a completely new perspective. There is real value in our waste and it is estimated that businesses across Scotland could save up to £192m by reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill and recycling as much waste as practicable.

From many years of working with Scotland’s business leaders, we know what is at stake. Economic sustainability in all its forms is key if organisations are to reach their potential. We believe that resource efficiency is the beating heart of this economic progress.

Iain Gulland is director of Zero Waste Scotland

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