Reminder to island businesses to pay for their commercial waste and recycling service

Following a decision at Full Council on 20 April 2023, we have written to all island residents to advise them of a change in the council’s approach to commercial waste management and explain what our expectations of businesses are when it comes to paying for council waste and recycling services.

Under the Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012,  all businesses operating on the islands that produce commercial waste – including all holiday lets – have a responsibility to pay for its disposal. The council is therefore increasing its activity to encourage business owners who rely on the council’s waste handling services, to ensure they are buying and using commercial waste and recycling sacks. Businesses which fail to do so are not contributing fairly to the islands’ waste disposal costs and are effectively passing these costs on to the wider community, which is something we, as a local authority, cannot accept. Furthermore, it is unlawful for businesses to misuse the household waste collection service to dispose of their commercial waste.

Council waste handling includes collection (where a collection is made by the council directly – currently on St Mary’s and St Martin’s) and disposal (on all of the islands except Tresco, where residual waste is accepted via a separate contract).

Commercial sacks can be ordered by calling 01720 424450 or emailing Alternatively, these sacks can be ordered in person at the Library or Carn Gwaval Wellbeing Centre on St Mary’s. Prices for the commercial sacks are kept up to date on the Commercial Fees and Charges page of the council website.

What is ‘business’ or ‘commercial’ waste?

Government is clear that “any waste that comes from a commercial activity is business waste.” This means that if you use part of your home to run your business, then any waste from that part is business waste. This covers, for example:

  • self-catering properties
  • bed and breakfast lets
  • home offices for small businesses

It also captures all waste that comes from any of the following activities:

  • construction
  • demolition
  • industry
  • agriculture

Making waste management fair for the whole community

The cost of managing waste services across the islands is high, as is the cost of transporting and disposing of waste and recycling compliantly on the mainland. In total, waste services cost the council £700,000 in 2022/2023.

To ensure fairness for the whole community, we’re monitoring the sale of commercial waste and recycling sacks and may contact business which we believe are not paying for commercial waste services.

Please also be aware that from now on, if we become aware of any commercial waste from known businesses in domestic waste bags, we will have no choice but to refuse collection until this waste is relocated to commercial waste and recycling bags.

Councillor Harry Legg, Lead Member for Environment, Environmental Services and Climate Change said: “According to Defra statistics for 2021/22, the Council of the Isles of Scilly collected more household waste per person than any other local authority in the country. We know that some of this waste is being produced by businesses and should actually be disposed of through the commercial waste stream to ensure everyone is paying fairly. I hope that the letter helps everyone to better understand the waste classifications and why the council has to take action to address this issue. Thank you to all the businesses who are already paying for their commercial waste and to everyone who is doing their best to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.”

Further information

Further information about commercial waste and recycling management on the islands, wider advice about reducing waste and links to guidance on the responsibilities of business owners, can be found on the council’s waste and recycling webpages.

If you have any questions, please email If you or someone you know has any problems accessing waste advice online, the council’s waste team can also be contacted on 01720 424450.

Thank you to everyone who is already making efforts to reduce their waste and separate their recycling as required.

Publishing date: 
Monday, 19 June, 2023