Step 1

Why your business needs to recycle

Back to step 1

How to comply with the new business recycling legislation

Having looked at the business case for recycling, it’s time to delve into the details of what the new legislation means for your business.

What is the new legislation?

Under Section 57 – Separation of Waste, the Environment Act 2021 makes provision for amending the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Section 45AZA and Section 45AZB) governing the separate collection, in England, of household waste from relevant non-domestic premises.

Businesses and relevant non-domestic premises will need to separate dry recycling (except plastic film) and food waste for recycling by 31 March 2025. If you’re a smaller business, with fewer than ten full-time equivalent employees, you’ve got until 31 March 2027, but it’s a good idea to take the opportunity to comply early – one less thing to worry about!

As waste is a , each of the four UK nations has slightly different requirements for recycling. If you’re responsible for managing waste in your workplace, visit our sister site in Wales. There’s also similar guidance available for Scotland.

The materials the legislation will require you to separate out will include:

  • Glass including drinks bottles and rinsed empty food jars 

  • Metal, such as drinks cans and food tins, empty aerosols, aluminium foil, aluminium foil food trays and tubes

  • Plastic, such as rinsed empty food containers and bottles 

  • Paper and cardboard 

  • Cartons for food, drinks and other liquids

  • Food waste 

You'll find the full list of materials you will be required to recycle here

It will be important to make sure you separate out the right materials and avoid your recycling being contaminated by any non-recyclable materials.

Good to know

We’ll be going through specific guidance for food-related businesses (such as hotels and restaurants) in a separate guide, but keep in mind that all businesses produce some food waste. The Government isn’t proposing a minimum food waste weight before the new legislation applies, so it’s likely that this guidance will also be relevant to your workplace.