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Zero Waste

SEPA works with the Scottish Government and Zero Waste Scotland to achieve the objectives and targets of the Zero Waste Plan, published in 2010.

We have a wide range of responsibilities including regulating waste management activities such as landfills, incinerators and the export of waste, administering the producer responsibility schemes for packaging, WEEE and batteries, collecting and interpreting waste data and tackling environmental crime.

Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012

The regulations were passed by the Scottish Parliament on 9 May 2012 and make the following provisions:

  • All businesses, public sector and not-for-profit organisations are required to present metal, plastic, glass, paper and card (including cardboard) 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. They expand all waste producers (excluding householders) ‘duty of care’ to include a requirement  to segregate material for recycling as well as storing waste safely, transferring only to an authorised person and completion of a transfer note, including a full description of the waste, which must be retained for two years. For more information see the Duty of Care Code of Practice or the Frequently Asked Questions database.

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.

Zero Waste Scotland has a wide range of support packagesavailable 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.

Planning for zero waste

The need to move towards sustainable waste management will mean more facilities will be required to sort, reduce, recycle and process waste as we move away from landfill.

SEPA has an important role to play in this process as a consultee, when commenting on both Development Plans and planning applications. Further guidance on our role in land use planning can be found on the planning section of our website.

Guidance on recycling

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

Food waste recycling

The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 require that some food businesses take reasonable steps to present their food waste for separate collection.

Our guidance on Food Waste Management in Scotland sets out requirements across the food waste supply chain in order to achieve high quality recycling.

Further information is available in the food waste recycling section of our website.

Contact us

If you have any questions about Scotland’s zero waste regulations, please contact us.