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This guide is for anyone working in the hospitality and food services sector.

First published:
9 February 2024
Last updated:

This guide should be read in conjunction with the Separate Collection of Waste Materials for Recycling: A Code of Practice for Wales. This guide provides supplementary advice for individual sectors and should not be read as standalone guidance. 

This guide applies to hotels, restaurants, cafés, takeaways, canteens, pubs, offices with canteens or cafés, schools and colleges, prisons, nursing homes and hospitals and any other workplaces serving food. Hospitals will have an additional two years to comply with the separation requirements but will need to comply with the food waste to sewer ban from 6 April.

The guide is for all sizes of business including those with multiple sites, and those operating in one venue.  It also covers food sector franchises. 

Anyone serving food and drink to eat in, or take away, will be affected by the new law.

Why you need to recycle

From 6 April 2024, the new law will mean that all workplaces have to present the following materials separately for collection for recycling and arrange for the waste to be collected separately from other waste. 

What to recycle

  • Paper and card; 
  • Glass; 
  • Metal, plastic, and cartons and other similar packaging (for example coffee cups); 
  • Food – all premises that produce 5kg or more of food waste in seven consecutive days;
  • Unsold small waste electrical and electronic equipment (sWEEE) and
  • Unsold textiles.

The 5kg food waste weight limit applies to any seven-day period. If you produce 5kg or more of food waste during any seven days, then it must be presented separately for collection. If you do not produce over 5kg per week this should be monitored to take account of any changes on the premises, for example an increase of staffing levels or visitors. 

This law only applies to household-like waste produced by workplaces, that is waste that is usually found at home and routinely collected from the kerbside.

A full list of recyclable materials that should be presented separately for recycling is available in The Separate Collection of Waste Materials for Recycling: Code of Practice

As a waste producer, you are required to produce a waste transfer note. In most cases, however, your waste collector will produce this for you. You should check this carefully to ensure that the description of the waste being collected is accurate. None of the separated materials can be sent by your waste collector to landfill or incineration. You could consider asking your waste collector for regular evidence of the final processing destinations of your segregated materials.

The new law bans any food waste of any amount from being disposed of down the sink or drain into the sewer. It means you cannot use in-sink maceration units that chop or liquidise food waste and send it down the drain.

While it will not be illegal for you to have a macerator, de-waterer, or other similar food waste disposal technology, it will be illegal to use them to send food waste into sewers.

All occupiers of workplaces must correctly present recyclable materials separately for collection by their chosen waste collector. Whether you own, rent, or lease your premises, it still applies. 

If you share a space e.g., a shopping centre, food, or market hall, you may need to check if a central recycling system that meets the requirements of the law will be provided by landlords. If so, it will be your responsibility to ensure you and your staff use the recycling systems provided correctly. If not, your recyclable waste will be your responsibility.

If you mainly have an online presence, you will still need to comply with the changes on any premises that you use.

How to better understand your waste and recycling

To understand the different types of waste your workplace produces, undertake a waste audit by walking through the different areas within your premises, e.g., offices, kitchens, on-site cafés, food preparation, storage, and delivery areas, to examine the contents of general waste bins, and to highlight any waste reduction or recycling efforts that are already in place. In addition, think about the people who will be using your facilities and the types of waste that they may produce.

Within your premises the areas most likely to generate waste will include: 

  • Kitchens, on-site cafés, and food stalls:
    • Food preparation areas - food (spoilage and preparation waste), packaging such as metal, glass, cardboard, plastic films and wrapping.
    • Food consumption areas - food (plate waste), packaging waste such as drinks cans, plastic and glass bottles, drinks cartons, cardboard, and paper;
  • Staff room/mess room/office - paper, food, and packaging materials;
  • Public areas such as concourses – uneaten food, packaging waste such as drinks cans, plastic and glass bottles, drinks cartons, cardboard, and paper; 

There may be certain types of waste that you produce, for example cooking oils and fats, that need a specialist waste collection service. If you produce more than 5kg of food waste each week, you will need to organise a separate food waste collection.

Preventing waste in the first place

Reducing or preventing how much waste you produce will help to save money and reduce the size of bins you will need. 

Here are a few tips to reduce your waste:

  • Donate surplus or unsold stock – donate surplus food to charity or have an employee fridge for products that they can eat or take home free of charge. Guidance is available on GOV.UK on how food businesses must dispose of food and former foodstuffs;
  • Use paperless marketing methods and offer paper free receipts by emailing them to customers;
  • Purchase recycled, refillable or reusable products wherever possible;
  • Provide water fountains for staff and customers to use and use reusable cups, crockery, and utensils;
  • For take-away drinks encourage customers to bring their own reusable cup by charging for single use cups and
  • Ensure that packaging on your takeaway food and drink is minimised and that what packaging is used, can be recycled or reused.

There may be some costs to making these changes for some workplaces but increasing how much you recycle could reduce your waste disposal costs in the medium to long run. As this law applies to all food and drink caterers, it will be factored into business and management models. Hospitality, food services and food and drink manufacturing sectors are some of the UK’s largest producers of waste, producing waste streams that are generally easy to recycle. 

How to comply with the new recycling law

If you are already separately collecting and recycling all the materials you need to under the new law, then you may not need to do anything else. We recommend that you read The Separate Collection of Waste Materials for Recycling: Code of Practice to double check you are doing everything you need to. This includes a list of all the specific types of things that have to be recycled.

Independent businesses

If you operate your business independently, setting up a recycling service and ensuring you are complying with the new law will be your responsibility. 

Shopping centres or managed locations

If you are within a managed location such as a shopping centre, food or market hall then waste management services might be procured by a facilities management company. You should contact them to find out about any changes they will be making.

Franchises or larger organisations

If you are part of a larger organisation, chain, or franchise, then waste management services might be arranged nationally or regionally, with information and guidance provided by your head or regional office. You should contact them to find out about any changes they will be making.

How to arrange a new recycling service

If you need to organise a new recycling service, it’s worth thinking about the following:

  • What is the amount or type of waste you regularly produce?  Does this change during the year?  For example, increases over Christmas or school holidays. Your recycling collection service, including the number of bins and how often they need emptying, may need to be flexible;
  • Whether having recycling collections on certain days of the week e.g. after busy weekends, will help prevent waste and recyclables building up;
  • Maybe little and often works better for you. Most waste collectors offer different container sizes, including sacks for some waste. Once you start recycling you might be able to reduce the size of your general waste bin;
  • If you don’t have much space for external containers, could you share bins with other businesses to help reduce costs and space? Just bear in mind that waste containers can’t be stored on the public highway in between collections;
  • Speak to your existing waste collector about your new recycling needs. They will need to be aware of the new law and ensure the services they offer will be compliant and
  • You could also get quotes from a range of collectors to get the best price and the most suitable service for you.

If requested, councils must arrange waste and recycling collection services for you. There is a charge for these services. In rural areas you may find that options for waste and recycling are more limited, and that only councils will provide a collection service to you, especially if you do not produce a lot of waste. 

If you are in one of Wales’ 14 Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), you may find that they already have waste and recycling services which you can access.

Space for your bins

It’s important you consider where and how you will store your waste and recycling. 

Ensure that containers and waste storage areas:

  • are safe and accessible for people, including users with disabilities, and your waste collector;
  • are not in locations that cause an obstruction, a fire hazard or block escape routes,
  • provide sufficient capacity to cope with the types and amounts of waste and recyclables you produce and store between collections;
  • are not located near food preparation or storage areas for food safety and hygiene reasons;
  • are close to where the waste and recycling is generated.
  • are tidy, clean, and free from clutter or loose waste and are secure with close fitting lids, and do not allow waste or recycling to escape.

It is important to:

Following this advice and guide will also help avoid any pest control problems. 

In larger premises you may want to hire or purchase a baler to compress materials such as cardboard packaging. You will need to check your collector is happy with this and whether they have any limits on the weight of the bales you might produce. Your contractor may provide a baler and training.  If you use a baler, you may need to register a “waste exemption” with Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

Food waste and hygiene

There are guidelines on Natural Resources Wales on food waste to help you dispose of waste properly to meet the existing waste Duty of Care law

The Food Standards Agency also provides guidance which means you need to:

  • store food waste in sealable containers which are:
    • solid, and strong enough to hold food waste;
    • in sound condition – i.e., without breakages or splits that could enable pests to access waste or cause leaks; and
    • easy to clean and disinfect;
  • remove food waste and other rubbish from areas as soon as possible and
  • have enough waste storage facilities to store and dispose of food waste and other rubbish to keep them clean.

Ensure any changes you make are incorporated into your Food Safety Management Systems.

If your food waste collector allows you to use compostable liners, ensure that your liners are BS EN 13432 compliant. This means that all the food waste is sent for commercial processing to meet the right standards. 

Staff training ideas

  • Ask for ideas on how a scheme may work, as they may have spotted opportunities or issues which you have not considered;
  • Provide clear instructions on what they should do with different waste streams or recyclables to help you meet your new recycling obligations; 
  • Provide training to permanent, seasonal and temporary workers. Use orientation training to ensure new starters can recycle from day one, with regular training and reminders for all employees;
  • Share information about recycling via regular updates at team meetings and on staff noticeboards so that employees hear about the differences their actions are making and 
  • Ask for feedback if recycling systems are not working well, ensure employees feel listened to and that issues are identified promptly before they cause bigger problems.

You can use our resources on Wrap Cymru when engaging with your employees.

Other advice for hospitality or food businesses

There is a ban on Single Use Plastics including plastic cutlery, drink stirrers, polystyrene products and drinking straws. 

If you run a hotel and are looking to measure your waste, the Hotel Waste Measurement Methodology on the sustainable hospitality alliance website  gives a common approach to collect waste data, and measure and report waste.   This is available on the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance website.  (

The Courtauld Commitment 2030 is a voluntary agreement delivered by WRAP , across the entire UK food chain to deliver farm-to-fork reductions in food waste, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and water stress. 

Plastic packaging in the hospitality and food service industry (WARP) provides many challenges and opportunities, the UK Plastic Pact has four targets working towards a world where plastic is valued. There are actions you can take to achieve these targets.

The food waste reduction roadmap toolkit (WRAP) provides actions to help you reduce food waste.  To see what others have done go to hospitality and food service case studies on the WRAP website.

If you are looking for ideas of what to do with leftover food, the surplus food hub on the WRAP website can help.