Waste Management

SEPA is committed to supporting everyone it regulates during the COVID-19 public health emergency, while maintaining protection of Scotland’s environment. We recognise there may be disruption to waste management services during this time.

SEPA expects people to have business continuity arrangements in place to ensure compliance with their SEPA permit or other environmental regulatory requirements during EU Exit and COVID-19. As SEPA responds to the impacts of the cyber-attack we will provide updates on our service status and support businesses. We are clear we expect everyone we regulate to continue to comply with Scotland’s environmental laws.

Where compliance with a SEPA Permit or other regulatory requirement is not possible for an individual site(s), a type of activity or for a sector, we may temporarily take a regulatory position that any failure to comply with those requirements will not be treated as a non-compliance for compliance assessment or enforcement purposes. This will be where that non-compliance is unavoidable and solely as a direct result of the impact of EU Exit or COVID-19 and will not lead to significant environmental harm.

We are only likely to consider taking a temporary regulatory position if the person contacts us at an early stage to advise us of a non-compliance or potential non-compliance, and we are satisfied that:

  • they have taken all reasonable steps to try and maintain compliance;
  • they will adequately manage any risks of harm to the environment or human health arising from the non- compliance.

If we take a temporary regulatory position we expect the person to:

  1. Tell us as soon as possible when they have, or will, become non-compliant;
  2. Comply with conditions attached to a temporary regulatory position
  3. Continue to meet all other Permit conditions or other environmental regulatory requirements not covered by a temporary regulatory position
  4. Return to compliance as quickly as possible. Any temporary regulatory position we take is likely to be time limited (normally to three months) but if the person can return to compliance quicker we will expect them to do so;
  5. Prevent and mitigate harm to the environment or human health;
  6. Follow the waste hierarchy in making waste management decisions and when waste is sent for re-use, recycling or disposal send it to a suitably authorised site.

SEPA expects people to have business continuity arrangements in place to ensure compliance with their SEPA permit or other environmental regulatory requirements during EU Exit and COVID-19.  We are clear we expect everyone we regulate to continue to comply with Scotland’s environmental laws. 

Where compliance with a SEPA Permit or other regulatory requirement is not possible for an individual site(s), a type of activity or for a sector, we may temporarily take a regulatory position that any failure to comply with those requirements will not be treated as a non-compliance for compliance assessment or enforcement purposes. This will be where that non-compliance is unavoidable and solely as a direct result of the impact of EU Exit or COVID-19 and will not lead to significant environmental harm.

In recognition that many businesses are currently experiencing extraordinary pressures that have a significant impact on their commercial operations, support and advice is available.

LFD Testing Waste

Household waste recycling centres

Household waste recycling centres help to manage the safe disposal of unwanted items. We are supporting local authorities and their contractors to reopen recycling centres. 

Waste carriers and brokers

Our online application service for new and renewal of waste carriers or brokers registrations is currently unavailable. We are working to rectify this.

View the temporary regulatory position statement on waste carrier and broker registrations

Special waste consignment notes

During the response, it remains important to maintain secure hazardous waste management. This includes the requirement for a form of SWCN to accompany every movement. Unfortunately, SEPA remains unable to sell pre-coded paper notes due to the reduced use of SEPA offices. This temporary regulatory position provides a number of options for operators to use in the interim.

Waste management regulatory guidance

We expect regulated businesses to make their best endeavours to meet environmental obligations. We are helping regulated businesses to adjust and adapt, recognising that resources and capacities are severely constrained.

We need to understand how COVID-19 is affecting the waste industry so it is important that you contact SEPA as soon as possible if you have any emerging compliance challenges.

We expect operators to be preparing themselves as far as practical for the challenges of the COVID-19 public health emergency to ensure impacts on the environment are minimised. However, we recognise that there may be disruption to waste management services during this time and it may mean it is not possible for operators to comply fully with their environmental obligations for reasons beyond their control.

Our temporary regulatory guidance describes how the industry, including SEPA, will have to adapt and the impact that new rules on social distancing will have on certain processes, such as the issuing of waste transfer notes and special waste consignment notes. All waste producers and managers must still comply with their Duty of Care obligations.

Waste Management

Contact information

If you have concerns or are unable to comply with your licence or permit and Scotland’s environmental laws regarding waste management, please contact SEPA as soon as possible.

In the event that shipments of waste can't proceed as intended due to the impact of COVID-19 (e.g. recovery facility closed, border/road closure), please send details immediately.

If you become aware of any suspicious activity around waste collections or the disposal of waste, you can report your concerns.