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.

The assessment and classification of waste is based on a combination of chemicals legislation and waste legislation. As of 1 June 2015 the way waste is classified and assessed is changing.

The Dangerous Substances Directive (67/548/EC) and Dangerous Preparations Directive (1999/45/EC) have been replaced by the Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation (CLP) (2008/1272/EC), which introduces a new system of chemical classification based on hazard classes, categories and statement codes (rather than risk phrases and categories of danger).

Annex III of the Waste Directive (2008/98/EC) has been revised to:

  • amend hazardous properties to align with the CLP;
  • provide hazardous waste criteria based on hazard statement codes.

The List of Waste Decision (2000/532/EC) has been revised to:

  • align with the CLP and Annex III;
  • include criteria for persistent organic pollutants (POPs);
  • make amendments arising from a review of the List itself.

In partnership with the Environment Agencies for England and Wales, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, we have updated our guidance to align with these changes and created a revised guidance document - Waste Classification: Guidance on the classification and assessment of waste (WM3).

Please note that the above changes will be transposed into national legislation on the 8th of June with the implementation of the Waste (Meaning of Hazardous Waste and European Waste Catalogue) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2015. 

Where it would be detrimental to their business to do otherwise, any producers or operators able to classify their waste under the new system are free to do so, from the 1st of June. 

There will be varying implementation dates throughout the UK and until such times as the changes have been fully implemented by an individual country SEPA will accept movements of waste into Scotland, from that country, under both the old classification system (as explained in Technical Guidance WM2) and new classification system (as explained in Technical Guidance WM3). 

This allows Scottish Businesses to accept waste movements from the rest of the UK without any additional burdens arising from those countries adopting the new system before or after Scotland.

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) can be purchased online or by contacting 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.