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Landfill is the disposal of waste which cannot be reused, recycled or recovered, into or onto land. It forms the lowest aspect of the European Waste Framework Directive’s waste hierarchy.

The EU’s Landfill Directive  aims to reduce the amount of waste to landfill by finding ways to recover value from waste and develop more sustainable management practices.

Disposal to landfill is the least preferred option in the waste hierarchy and should only be used as a last resort after re-use, recycling and recovery options, as an escalating scale of taxation on materials being sent to landfill has made this an increasingly expensive option.

The Scottish Government has also committed to progressive bans on certain materials going to landfill, such as food waste as part of its Zero Waste plan.

How is waste sent to landfill dealt with?

Waste taken to landfill is managed to prevent odour, litter and pest infestations. The gases produced by the decomposition of the waste – mainly a mix of carbon dioxide and methane – are burned off or used in an on-site energy generation plant.

Landfills are lined on the base and sides prior to waste deposition. As an area of a landfill reaches capacity it is covered with an engineered cap such as clay and restored using soils or other covering materials so that the site can be used in the future for agriculture, amenities or nature conservation. This is repeated for all filled areas.

How is landfill regulated?

The Landfill (Scotland) Regulations 2003 and their amendments - in 2003and 2013 - implement the Landfill Directive and set standards for the design and operation of landfills. Landfill sites must be classified as hazardous, non-hazardous, or inert.

The Landfill Allowance Scheme (LAS), which formerly administered a system of banking, borrowing and penalties concerning the disposal of Biodegradable Municipal Waste (BMW), was revoked by the Scottish Government in 2012.

We regulate landfill sites directly through a permit system.

How are permits issued?

Contact us using our online contact form if your authorisation is required urgently within the next three weeks.

In order to be considered for a permit, operators of landfill sites must submit a variety of conceptual models, management plans and site specific assessments as part of a completed application. We will then assess the application and determine if and when operators may be granted a permit.

Landfill sites are subject to UK landfill tax, however, from 2015, they will be subject to the Landfill Tax (Scotland) Act 2014 .

Technical guidance

Landfill gas management

Management plans


Hydrogeological risk assessment

Financial provision

Waste acceptance and disposal

Closure and Restoration

Habitats guidance

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If you require any further help or advice, please contact us.