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Special waste

Waste with hazardous properties which may render it harmful to human health or the environment is called special waste in Scotland.

Elsewhere in the UK and the EC, special waste is referred to as hazardous waste and managing and regulating it is essential to minimise any effects on the environment.

How is special waste regulated?

In Scotland, the Special Waste Regulations 1996 (and their amendments) set out procedures to be followed when disposing of, carrying and receiving special waste.

The regulations are the principal piece of legislation covering special waste arising in Scotland.

How do I classify and assess special waste?

Landfill Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC) analysis (specifically leachate test results) must not be used for waste classification and hazardous waste assessment purposes. This analysis is only applicable for landfill acceptance and does not give any indication as to whether a waste may be hazardous or non-hazardous.

As part of your waste duty of care you must classify the waste your business produces:

  • before it is collected, disposed of or recovered
  • to identify the controls that apply to the movement of the waste
  • to complete waste documents and records
  • to identify suitably authorised waste management options
  • to prevent harm to people and the environment

Detailed guidance on how to classify and assess waste can be found in the guidance document:

The guidance has been updated by SEPA in partnership with the Environment Agencies for England and Wales, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. You should use this guidance if you produce, manage or regulate waste. When completing waste documentation the waste must be classified using a code It will help you select the correct code for the waste and in particular decide whether the waste is hazardous or non-hazardous.

Do the regulations apply to me?

Any movement of special waste – known as a consignment – is subject to regulation and must be monitored by its producer, consignor, carrier and consignee.

If you produce, collect, transport or dispose of special waste, you must comply with the regulations. Our guidance on consigning special waste explains operators’ obligations in more detail.

What do I do next?

All special (hazardous) waste produced in Scotland must be consigned using a SEPA-issued consignment note or code, regardless of its final destination within the UK. Special waste consignment notes (SWCNs) and codes can be purchased online or by contacting us.

One-page and five-page editable PDF copies of the SWCN are available to download and use. Please note that you must still purchase a unique code from SEPA to accompany them. Guidance on completing SWCNs (paper or editable PDF copies) is in our guidance on consigning special waste document. Editable PDF copies of the carrier schedule and additional sheet are aso available.

You may use your own paperwork for special waste consignments. However, you must still purchase a unique code from SEPA to accompany them.

The paperwork must be a form corresponding to Schedule 1 to The Special Waste Regulations 1996 or  "substantially to the like effect". It must also give the details required by the Regulations in respect of that consignment.

If you would like to use your own paperwork for special waste consignments please Contact us.

When exporting special (hazardous) waste to England, Wales or Northern Ireland for treatment, disposal or recovery, the consignee who receives the waste is required to send a copy of the completed deposit note to SEPA.

Producers in England, Wales or Northern Ireland should use the paperwork for their own country, completed in accordance with the relevant domestic legislation.

You do not need to register as a producer of special (hazardous) waste in Scotland.

Contact us

For more help or information on any aspect of consigning special waste, please contact us.