The Scottish Government's Zero Waste Plan sets out a vision of a zero waste Scotland where waste is treated as a valuable resource and not as a burden. It proposes a long term target of recycling 70% of all Scotland's waste requiring that waste is sorted into separate streams for recycling and reprocessing, leaving only limited amounts for residual waste treatment, such as energy recovery. Scotland currently pays around £95 million every year in landfill taxes to throw away recyclable materials with an estimated value of £97 million.
Now Scottish organisations can make a big difference.
Scottish businesses are preparing to meet the deadline of the new Waste (Scotland) Regulations. From 1 January 2014 all organisations operating in Scotland, big and small will have to recycle their plastic, metal, glass, paper and card or risk a fine. Most food businesses will also have to recycle their food waste.
Many businesses are already ahead of the game in preparing for the Regulations and have realised that good waste management makes good businesses sense.
Moreover, delivering changes to increase recycling rates has the potential to bring about significant benefits to Scotland's economy and environment. For example; supporting and expanding Scotland's recycling industry will help reduce our demand for expensive virgin materials while also creating new opportunities for economic growth and jobs in the recycling sector. Reducing our reliance on landfill by increasing recycling will substantially reduce landfill emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 24 times more potent than carbon dioxide. And by processing food waste at anaerobic digestion facilitates we are able to harness green energy and produce high quality fertilisers.
How can businesses get Waste Regulation ready?
Businesses should talk to their waste contractors and start thinking now about how they can recycle their waste streams. There may be a number of quick wins, such as removing bins from under desks to get staff into the habit of using central recycling areas, clearly labelling bins and recycle points.
They can also look to Scottish businesses who are already Regulation ready, like Mains of Scotstown Inn, an Aberdeen pub and restaurant, which is benefitting from nearly £8,000 of annual savings by implementing a number of waste reduction and recycling initiatives to ensure that only 13% of waste ends up in landfill.
To reduce food waste, guests are encouraged to take home a 'doggy box' (made of recycled cardboard). Remaining food waste is put into the pub's wormery, a £700 investment which quickly paid for itself by reducing landfill costs, thanks to its host of 1,000 plus worms capable of eating their own body weight in two days. Other waste, such as paper, is also added to the wormery to help soak up excess moisture. The resulting compost is used on the pub's herb, fruit and salad garden.
In addition, the pub recycles all of its cooking oil. It receives a fee for the used oil which is then used to create biodiesel and anti-bacterial soap from the byproduct, Glycerol. The biofuel and soap is then bought back and used by the pub. Food and drink cans are kept separate then sold to a local scrap merchant for a great return. This almost covers the cost of all waste and recycling.
Owner Martin Young said: "We have a policy where we refuse anything from any suppliers which we can't recycle, in order that all the waste we create can be recycled in one way or another. Recycling waste really is a no brainer; it makes great business sense.
"Waste collection costs are so expensive and as a hospitality business we need to be smarter in how we use our resources and use them to best effect. By recycling our waste, we not only benefit from saving on landfill tax, but we receive so many other benefits and resources which can be ploughed back into the business. My staff are all champions of the sustainable way in which the pub now operates and are incentivised through receiving bonuses if targets are met."
Timberyard, an artisan restaurant in Edinburgh has blazed a trail with its waste management techniques. Recycling more than 95% of its waste, the restaurant minimises the financial cost of waste created. Good kitchen management means that very little food is thrown out and all vegetable waste is composted, providing the nutrients needed to grow salad leaves and herbs for the restaurant's use in its own grounds. Additionally, Edinburgh tap water is filtered, chilled and offered at no charge to its guests either still or carbonated in reusable bottles; this reduces glass waste and the carbon footprint of bottled mineral water.
Andrew Radford, proprietor of the restaurant, commented: "We have been able to reduce our general waste, including food, paper, glass and cans through good housekeeping; implementing measures, including composting waste vegetables and reusing materials as much as possible."
Retailer, Mo's Convenience Store, in Blantyre started a waste management programme to reduce the three 1,200 litre bins of waste the business was producing every week, most of which was being sent to a landfill site. Through a comprehensive programme of waste reduction and recycling, the business has managed to reduce this to just one bin a week, effectively cutting its monthly waste pick-up bill from £320 to £82 per month, an annual saving of £2,856.
As well as separating all cardboard and plastics and taking them to the local cash and carry for recycling, Mo's has also devised ways of ensuring its food waste is kept to a bare minimum.
Owner Shahid Razziq explained: "As we have a bake off oven on site to ensure our bread is fresh, we were keen to ensure we minimised any wastage. Once bread has been on the shelf for a day, we reduce it in price for the next day. Whatever remains unsold at the end of the second day is either given away for free or, in the case of our baguettes, halved and used to make pizza-style flat bread. Staff awareness is also critical for Mo's and all members of staff are encouraged to be forward thinking when it comes to sustainability and rewarded for their efforts and ideas."
Shahid has also made great progress with other areas of sustainability within the business, from installing LED lighting and timers in the fridges to cutting water usage by 20%.
Resource Efficient Scotland can help you get ready for the Regulations, as well as providing free guidance on ways you can save money by being more efficient with the resources that you use. Visit their website for more information www.resourceefficientscotland.com, call 0808 808 2268 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join the conversation on Twitter @ResourceScot