Zero Waste Scotland - what it means for business

Ron Rivans talks about Zero Waste Scotland, what it means for business, and SQMC’s ISO 14001 training courses in Environmental Management Systems.

2014 marks a dramatic step forward in the Scottish Government’s commitment to reducing commercial waste through the introduction of legislation, entitled Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012.

This legislation, which begins to come into force at the turn of the year, will affect all businesses across all sectors, but there is help available to reduce the potential impacts.

Zero Waste Scotland is a government-funded initiative to help companies in their journey towards generating zero waste by the promotion of the waste hierarchy of Prevention, Prepare for reuse, Recycle, Recover and finally, Disposal.

The ethos of Zero Waste Scotland is that no materials should be allowed to fall out of the economy – everything has multiple uses and applications. Landfill use should be a last resort when all other options have been exhausted.

“Every single business will be affected by these changes in legislation, but with the correct preparation and staff training the impacts can be managed effectively,” says SQMC’s Technical Director Ron Rivans.

“Businesses will have to accept greater responsibility for their own waste generation and management. A major change affecting all businesses is that it will no longer be legal to send waste to landfill without any prior treatment. Key waste groups such as metal, plastics, glass, paper and card must be separated either on company premises or by a licensed waste contractor who must be able to demonstrate that they can process the waste without detriment to the quality of the recyclates collected.

“For example, from January 2014, a food business (except for rural areas) producing more than 50kg of food waste per week will have to present this food waste for separate collection to be reprocessed appropriately via bio fuel management, composting or anaerobic digesters to create methane or other usable products (this food allowance will drop to 5kg from by January 2016). This is, of course, a massive reduction in untreated waste creation and may have significant cost implications for businesses.

“Meeting these targets will require smarter re-use of waste and materials and this can only be achieved by a smarter approach to environmental management.”

SQMC offers a range of ISO 14001 training courses in Environmental Management Systems auditing and waste management. The foundation course, ISO 14001 Awareness, is a staple of the zero waste thought process, focusing on minimising environmental impact. SQMC also offers aligned training to help organisations reduce commercial impact and provides help and advice on the upcoming legislation.