Zero Waste Regulations

New regulations to help Scotland become one of the most resource efficient nations in Europe have been passed by the Scottish Parliament.

The regulations aim to ensure that the minimum level of service on offer to households and businesses across Scotland is better than that of today and signal the end of landfilling biodegradable municipal waste in Scotland.

A phased approach to rolling out the key measures in the regulations has been adopted to ensure that there is sufficient time for businesses, particularly small businesses, to adopt new recycling services. 

The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 were passed by the Scottish Parliament on 9 May 2012. The regulations make the following provisions.

  • Businesses to present metal, plastic, glass, paper and card for separate collection from 1 January 2014.

  • Food businesses (except in rural areas) which produce over 50 kg of food waste per week to present that food waste for separate collection from 1 January 2014.

  • Food businesses (except in rural areas) which produce over 5 kg of food waste per week to present that food waste for separate collection from 1 January 2016.

  • Local authorities to provide a minimum recycling service to householders.

  • Waste contractors to provide collection and treatment services which deliver high quality recycling.

  • A ban on any metal, plastic, glass, paper, card and food collected separately for recycling from going to incineration or landfill from 1 January 2014.

  • All new incinerators must ensure that metals and dense plastics have been removed from residual municipal waste prior to incineration. 

  • A ban on biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill from 1 January 2021.

The regulations will have a significant effect on industry practices and infrastructure provision in Scotland, particularly for those involved in the management of municipal waste. For more information see the Duty of Care Code of Practice external link or the Frequently Asked Questions database external link.

Through our advice, planning and regulatory roles, we will support the development of sustainable infrastructure and ensure the transition is managed in a way which delivers a high degree of environmental protection.

The phased approach to implementation set out in the regulations provides time to get ready for the new requirements. Zero Waste Scotland has a wide range of support package available to help businesses, local authorities and the waste management sector make the necessary changes.  

The requirement for businesses to recycle key dry recyclables and food waste (where applicable) will be jointly enforced by local authorities and SEPA.

SEPA has written to commercial waste service providers pdf link (198k) to clarify what is expected of waste producers (their customers) and what is expected of the service providers.

Guidance is available for the following sectors to comply with the new recycling requirements:

A summary was presented at local authority regional events May / June 2013. pdf link (500k)

If you have any questions about these regulations, please contact us at zerowaste@sepa.org.uk.