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1.1    The Welsh Government is introducing workplace recycling regulations that, subject to the will of the Senedd, are expected to come into force on 6 April 2024, and will require all non-domestic premises (including businesses, the public and the third sector) to separate key recyclable materials in the way the majority of Wales’ householders already do.

1.2    The regulations propose:

1.2.1    The separation requirements: 

  • Require the occupiers of non-domestic premises (including businesses, charities and public sector bodies) to present specified recyclable materials for collection separately from each other and separate from residual waste;
  • Require those that collect the specified recyclable materials to collect them separately from other recyclable materials;
  • Require those separately collected recyclable materials to be kept separate and not mixed.

1.2.2    Incineration and landfill bans

  • Ban specified separately collected recyclable materials from non-domestic and domestic premises from incineration and landfill;
  • Ban all wood waste from non-domestic and domestic premises to landfill.

1.2.3    Ban on the disposal of food waste to sewer from non-domestic premises

  • Commence a ban on disposal of food waste to sewer from non-domestic premises.

1.3    The following materials will need to be separated for collection, collected separately and not mixed thereafter:

  • glass;
  • paper and card;
  • metal, plastic, and cartons; 
  • food produced by premises producing more than 5kg of food waste a week;
  • unsold small waste electrical and electronic equipment (sWEEE); and 
  • unsold textiles.

Long term

1.4    In line with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act, these reforms are about improving the long term social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of Wales. Given the climate emergency, these regulations will support workplaces to take action by keeping materials in circulation, which in turn is a key part of the move to a circular economy.

1.5    While workplaces have expressed that the implementation of these regulations may initially result in extra expenses for businesses and organisations to accommodate separated recycling, the reforms will not only support action on the nature and climate emergency but will help to achieve long term economic opportunities and savings as what was previously waste material is retained as a commodity with further long-term benefits for the resilience of supply chains.

1.6    As found with household recycling in Wales, as businesses and organisations separate out their wastes into different containers it will highlight how much of each waste type is produced, which encourages action to reduce these wastes. This helps business save money on collection and disposal costs and improves resource efficiency.


1.7    Municipal recycling rates have grown to over 65% in 2021-22, contributing savings of around 400,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum. Every household in Wales plays its part, showing how small steps can lead to fundamental change.

1.8    The reforms will increase the quality and rate of recycling of waste materials produced in non-domestic premises in Wales, and in doing so, support Wales’ commitments to reach zero waste and net zero carbon emissions by 2050. In addition, it will support our progress towards a more circular economy and delivering positive benefits for the economy and jobs.

1.9    By being proactive we will:

  • provide greater security of supply of resources to our manufacturing sector; 
  • accelerate progress towards a circular economy for Wales through the use by Welsh manufacturing businesses of recyclate collected in Wales;
  • increase the quantity of recycling from non-domestic premises;
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • reduce pollution.

1.10    A circular economy, which moves away from single use, decreases our emissions, and helps to prevent further damage to the Welsh environment and economy by improving supply chain resilience. This is because collected materials are recycled back into the economy which reduces our dependency on raw materials extracted from overseas. This in turn reduces the associated damage to nature, biodiversity and the environment globally caused by the extraction and processing of the raw materials.


1.11    These reforms are a key part of how we are delivering on our Programme for Government (PfG) commitments to build a stronger, greener economy based on the principles of sustainability and the industries and services of the future as well as being an essential component of action to decarbonise and respond to the climate and nature emergency.  In doing so, they recognise the need for the integration of economic and environmental action in tackling the climate and nature emergency.

1.12    By commencing these regulations, we will be more closely aligning the systems for household and workplace recycling. To achieve this, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) will be responsible for regulating the separation requirements except for the ban on the disposal of food waste to sewer, which will be regulated by Local Authorities [1].  Both will provide guidance and information for those affected, including tools and resources on the enforcement regime that will be introduced to ensure all affected are aware of the requirements and comply. As found with household recycling, workplaces must comply with the regulations by separating their waste in different containers, and by doing so will be further encouraged to take action to reduce their waste.

 [1] Local Authorities have a ‘public service’ duty under section 45(1)(b) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to collect any commercial waste from a premises if requested. Local Authorities will also be legally required to meet all of the separation requirements for the wastes they are asked to collect from commercial waste-producing premises.

Collaboration and Involvement

1.13    The Welsh Government has consulted and engaged extensively on these reforms and have continued to engage regularly with stakeholders and key partners (including Natural Resources Wales and Local Government) in the development of the underpinning policy and regulations. A recent representative survey confirmed widespread public support for the reforms (at 77% of respondents), including among decision-makers at organisations who will be affected by these regulations [2].  Collaboration with stakeholders has provided an opportunity for them to provide integral input on the approach, phasing in of certain waste streams, views on the coming into force date and proportionality of the enforcement regime. For example:

  • 2009 Towards Zero Waste consultation: This consultations aim was to achieve a high level of recycling and to make sure all recyclates are separated at source so that they are clean and high value.
  • 2013-14 - Environment Bill White Paper consultation: included a consultation on the separation duty.
  • 2019-2020 - Consultation on Beyond Recycling, the Circular Economy Strategy for Wales: This consultation included the commitment to the reforms with approximately 40 face-to-face events tailored to specific audiences and a formal public consultation to promote higher recycling in all non-domestic settlings.
  • 2019 Consultation on Increasing Business Recycling in Wales: This public consultation set out the preferred policy option to bring forward statutory instruments (SIs) to increase recycling from non-domestic premises such as businesses and the public sector in Wales. [3]
  • 2022-23 Consultation on the Workplace Recycling Legislation: The Welsh Government conducted a 12-week public consultation on the draft code of practice and enforcement proposals, face-to-face meetings and public consultations with workplaces. Feedback from the consultations indicated affirmative support for the introduction of these regulations.

 [2] Welsh Government, Public attitudes on the changes to workplace recycling and the ban on single use plastics (summary), 2023

 [3] Welsh Government, Consultation – summary of response. Increasing Business recycling in Wales, 2021


1.14    The climate and nature emergencies affect everyone, but the negative impacts will be felt disproportionately by particular groups such older people, disabled people, young people and low-income households. [4]  Implementing the legislation will have a direct positive impact on our environment, health, and the economy in the short term and for future generations.

1.15    In its assessment of the Collections Blueprint, Eunomia [5] found that the capturing of high-quality material through the separate collection of waste is likely to support retention of material within the Welsh and UK economies – resulting in social and economic benefits in line with the objectives of the Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. These reforms will also result in the following benefits:

  • Creating opportunities for jobs and training in the waste management sector.
  • Alongside the cost of energy, the cost of materials is impacting the cost-of-living crisis and so more effectively capturing high quality material that can go back into the Welsh economy is an integral way in which we can improve the resilience of our domestic supply chains supplying key materials to businesses. 
  • It is expected that more job opportunities resulting from the implementation of the legislation will benefit lower income households. The broader benefits to the economy will result in greater sustainability and resilience which will lead to a positive impact on low-income households.

 [4] “Health and wellbeing impacts of climate change”, 2021. 

[5]  Joe Papineschi, Emma Tilbrook, and Luke Emery, Review of the Welsh Government Collections Blueprint, Eunomia, 2016.

Costs and Savings

1.16    The evidence shows that these reforms will deliver overall savings to the Welsh economy modelled to be £186.9 million net present value (NPV) over 10 years – 2024-2033 [6], through securing higher costs for high quality materials captured. These reforms will ensure that we can capture a resilient supply of high-quality recycled materials, which can then be returned into the economy. This in turn will help unlock the benefits of the circular economy and support business resilience through the transition to a decarbonised economy.

1.17    The budget provided to support the implementation of the regulations includes grants, support for innovation and delivery partner organisations. This includes the expansion of the Circular Economy Fund, a key commitment within Beyond Recycling and Net Zero Wales, which supports businesses to adapt their processes to use more recycled content in manufacturing processes in Wales.

[6] Welsh Government, Regulatory Impact of Options to Increase Workplace Recycling in Wales, 2023 Table 26, Workplace recycling.


1.18    The regulations and the Code of Practice are being laid before the Senedd in autumn 2023 and the duties will take effect from 6th April 2024.

1.19    The outcomes of the regulations will be monitored by a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, depending on the nature of the outcome and the availability of an appropriate data source. The Waste tracking system will, from 2025 onwards, be used as a primary data source to track recycling levels for industrial and commercial waste in Wales. 

1.20    Additional data sources exist and may be used in the interim and include:

  • WasteDataFlow
  • Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme for packaging
  • National Resources Wales (NRW) waste and recycling surveys
  • NRW ‘site return’ data.