Workplace Food Waste

Since 2010 the Waste Management (Food Waste) Regulations 2009 have been in place

The Regulations require all major producers of food waste to place it into a dedicated bin and ensure that it is not mixed with other waste. A brown bin collection service must be used so that the collected food waste is subsequently recycled by composting or by other approved recycling process.

Affected Businesses and Premises

The Food Waste Regulations apply to all major sources of food waste.

The Regulations require food waste to be recycled when it arises in shops and supermarkets, public houses, state and local authority buildings, restaurants, cafés, bistros, wine bars and hot food outlets, canteens in office buildings and on construction sites, hotels, B&Bs and guest houses, hospitals and nursing homes, schools, colleges, railway stations and airports. This obligation also applies at trade shows, exhibitions, music concerts and other similar public events. There are, however, a small number of exemptions

What do Obligated Businesses have to do?

A key requirement of the Food Waste Regulations is that food waste must be kept separate from other waste. This prevents it becoming contaminated and unsuitable for recycling.

If a business decides to take its own food waste to a recycling plant or to set up a composting unit on its own premises, it needs to ensure that there is full compliance with all of the relevant environmental and public health legislation. For example, the establishment of its own composting unit requires the business to apply to its local authority for a certificate of registration to be issued. This is a requirement of the Waste Management Act. In addition, the composting unit must comply with animal byproduct rules.

A business that transports its own waste to a recycling plant must ensure that the destination is subject to a waste licence or waste facility permit which allows this material to be handled. In addition a business can transport the food waste to a facility (e.g. transfer station) which is sending food waste to a food waste recycling plant.

In some instances, operators of canteens, restaurants and other similar food outlets located within commercial buildings may not have direct control over the waste collection arrangements serving the premises. In such circumstances, the Food Waste Regulations require compliance by the person responsible for the building in which the canteen or other premises is situated. Both the food outlet operator and the occupier of the building may be liable under the Regulations when offences are committed.

Supermarkets and shops that sell food products and cooked food should already separate their butchers waste from their general waste and have it separately collected. In order to comply with the Food Waste Regulations, they will need to separate the remaining food waste from their other general waste and keep it separate.

Similarly, catering waste that arises from any restaurant or canteen that is located within a large shop or supermarket may need to be kept separate from the other food waste generated by the premises’ retail activities. It is important that these businesses check that any contractor used to collect these wastes for delivery to a particular authorised treatment facility is allowed to handle meat-based foodstuffs as well as other waste food and catering waste.

Trade Shows, Exhibitions, Concerts and Other Public Events

The Food Waste Regulations make a person organising a trade show, exhibition, concert or other event responsible for ensuring that all hot food outlets comply with this new legislation. This makes it much easier to ensure that the individual outlets that sell food to the public segregate their food waste and cause it to be recycled.

The Food Waste Regulations apply at most trade shows and exhibitions where hot food is supplied. In relation to outdoor events and concerts, the legislation applies where an events licence is required under the Planning and Development Act. Such licences must be obtained where 5,000 or more persons are to gather for an open air concert or similar event. However, many other transitional events are excluded from the Food Waste Regulations, and this includes many fairs and funfairs, bazaars, circuses and religious gatherings.

Besides making the event organiser responsible for ensuring that all hot food outlets comply with the legislation, the Food Waste Regulations require that person to prepare a food waste management plan. The food waste management plan would include details such as projected amount of food waste that would be generated and how it will be managed. Where an organiser holds a number of shows in the one year, one of these plans can suffice for the entire year; alternatively separate plans can be drawn up for different shows. The purpose of the plan is to describe the arrangements that will be put in place to ensure that food waste is segregated and recycled.


Non-compliance with the Food Waste Regulations is an offence. This can affect business that do not segregate their food waste properly, as well as contractors that dispose of segregated food waste rather than recycle it. Organisers of trade shows and other events that fail to ensure that hot food outlets comply with the legislation are also open to prosecution. This also applies to all businesses that do not submit the required food waste management plans or food waste management implementation reports. As noted, both an operator of a business such as a canteen or restaurant and the occupier of the premises in which it is situated are subject to the legislation and may be liable when offences are committed.