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Commercial food waste regulations

The Waste Management (Food Waste) Regulations, as amended, came into law on the 1st January, 2010. The regulations are designed to promote the segregation and beneficial use of food waste arising in the commercial sector to ensure that as much food waste as possible is recovered or recycled and not disposed via landfill. The Waste Management (Food Waste) Regulations have had practical application from 1st July 2010.

The Waste Management (Food Waste) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 were amended in 2015.  

As of July 2023, new waste management regulations (Waste Management (Collection Permit) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2023), have come into effect. According to these regulations all commercial premises are required to establish separate food waste collection. These regulations introduce incentivised waste charging and other changes for waste collection to increase sustainability in the commercial sector.

What the measures in the enhanced regulations will mean for business:

  • all waste collection companies will be required to provide a residual, mixed dry recyclable and bio waste bin to all their commercial customers.
  • waste collection companies must ensure that all business customers are placed onto a price plan that ensures that the cost to the customer for mixed dry recyclable or bio-waste is less than the cost of disposal for municipal waste. The introduction of this measure should not result in higher waste collection charges for business customers.

Overview of regulations

What is commercial food waste?

According to the Regulations, there is a clear legal definition of what commercial food waste is. However, for general guidance purposes commercial food wastes may be described as waste food items origination from restaurants, catering facilities and kitchens. Commercial food wastes may also include former food stuffs, which include products of animal origin that are no longer fit for human consumption for reasons such as expired use by dates, or manufacturing or packaging defects.

To whom do the regulations apply?

The regulations apply to 'producers' who are essentially the suppliers of food and the classes of premises affected are provided in Schedule 1 of the regulations and include:

    • Restaurants
    • Guest houses
    • Hotels
    • Industrial buildings
    • Cafes
    • Office buildings
    • Public houses
    • Shops
    • Supermarkets
    • Educational facilities
    • Hot food outlets
    • State buildings
    • Nursing homes
    • Hospitals

Obligations of the regulations on food waste producers

Segregate food waste at source

A food waste producer must ensure that all food waste arising at a premises is segregated at source and kept separate from other non-biodegradable wastes and contaminants such as packaging, plastics, cardboard, metals, glass along with residual or black-bin waste.

Ensure that segregated food waste is kept separated from other waste streams

Once a producer has ensured that food waste has been segregated, i.e. kept separate from other waste streams, it is important that these waste streams are not re-mixed or contaminated with other waste.  In practice this means that a business must ensure that once the food was has segregated, the waste must only be stored in designated bins pending collection.

Segregated food waste cannot be mixed with other waste streams, such as recyclables (cardboard, plastic, metals, glass), or with other 'residual' waste that is destined for disposal.  Therefore, it is important that a business utilise a 3 bin system, and ensure that any staff understand the importance of correct separation and storage of waste, pending collection.

Ensure food waste is not directed for disposal

Once food waste has been correctly segregated, it is important that the waste is stored in an appropriate and clearly demarked bin (typically a brown bin) pending collection by an authorised waste collector. Through the use of the brown bin system, this will ensure that segregated food waste is correctly directed for recovery at a compost facility or similiar, and not directed to landfill for disposal.

Ban on the use of macerators and similar devices in commercial kitchens

The regulations strictly ban the use of macerators or similar mechanical devices which are designed to shred and hydrate food wastes that are then discharged to sewers. Any kitchens or premises using such devices must cease this practice immediately and ensure that food waste arising at that premises is only managed in the manner outlined in the above points.

Special considerations

Although not of relevance to all commercial concerns, the regulations provide for alignment with the Animal By-Products regulations which means that Category 1 (food waste arising from international travel), Category 2 (effectively collection/treatment of dead farm animals) and part of Category 3 (raw meat and fish) are not covered under the Food Waste Regulations.The other elements of Category 3 by-products (former foodstuffs and catering waste) are covered under both the Food Waste Regulations and Animal By-products regulations. Article 3(2) of the Food Waste Regulations contains further information.

Further information

A copy of the regulations may be obtained from the Government Publications Office or on the Irish Statute Book website. For further information on the food waste regulations and how businesses and commercial concerns can meet their obligations under the regulations please contact the Waste Enforcement Section - contact details are on this page. 

Page last reviewed: 29/12/23

Content managed by: Roads, Environment and Water Services Department

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