Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Recycling waste

Recycling waste

Recycling is the third-best waste-management option for your business, after reducing and reusing waste. It is less beneficial to the environment than reuse because energy and resources are needed to reprocess the waste before the materials can be used again. Even so, recycling is important because it reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill and reduces the need to use new raw materials.

What you must recycle

You must comply with special requirements for recycling certain wastes, such as:

  • Batteries that contain harmful chemicals and metals - these are classified as hazardous waste. Batteries
  • Electrical and electronic equipment. WEEE regulations
  • Fridges and air-conditioning equipment containing f-gases or ozone-depleting substances. Ozone depleting substances and f-gases
  • End-of-life vehicles (ELVs) - you must send ELVs for dismantling and depollution, and recycle any component parts. End of life vehicles
  • Packaging - you must comply with certain requirements if you produce packaged products, or place packaging or packaged goods on the market. Packaging

You must comply with waste legislation if you are recycling or transporting waste.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland new regulations require businesses to segregate key materials for recycling.

You must separate:

  • Glass
  • Metals
  • Plastic
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Food waste

In Scotland you must separate food waste for collection if you are a food business, unless you qualify as a rual location or produce less than 5Kg of food waste per week.

In Northern Ireland if you are a food business then you must be prepared to present food waste for separate collection if you are a large producer, or be prepared to present food waste for collection by 1 April 2017 for small producers and Health and Social Care trusts.

You are a large producer if you regularly produce more than 50kg of food waste per week.

You are a small producer if you regularly produce between 5kg and 50kg of food waste per week.

Duty of Care - your waste responsibilities

NIEA: Regulatory position statement – Food Waste Guidance


Recycling good practice

Buy products that can be recycled. Only 7.5 per cent of all office waste, including paper, is recycled but 70 per cent could potentially be recycled.

Separate waste that can be recycled from other waste. See the page in this guideline: Separating and storing waste.

Check the cost of recycling. It could be much less than sending your waste for energy recovery or disposal. Find out if your local authority provides recycling collections at low or no cost.

Sell high-quality recyclable materials, for example construction materials. There are an increasing number of uses for recycled materials.

Waste exchanges such as letsrecycle.com give price information and quality specifications for a wide range of products. These can include compost, glass, metals, paper and board, plastics, textiles and wood.

Lets recycle: Prices for recycled materials

You can get information and help with starting, or improving, recycling at work from:

SEPA and Resource Efficient Scotland: Segregating materials for recycling leaflet

WRAP Northern Ireland

Zero Waste Scotland

SEPA: Encourage your customers to recycle


Further information

Find your nearest waste site

WRAP: Resource efficiency for businesses

Zero Waste Scotland: maximising re-use on construction sites

In this guideline

Business benefits of reducing, reusing and recycling waste

Choosing a waste management option

Reducing waste

Reusing waste

Recycling waste

Treating and composting biodegradable waste

Recovering energy and producing fuel from waste

Disposing of waste

Separating and storing waste

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