Managing waste during coronavirus

27 APR 20 | 1 minute read

Scotland’s waste management sector has risen to the challenges of coronavirus. Your efforts are recognised and valued.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is working with Zero Waste Scotland, local authorities, Scottish Government and other key partners to support the sector and help waste managers to stay compliant and protect the environment.

Responsibilities for waste management

All businesses need to continue to do their best to meet environmental obligations, even with the challenges of coronavirus.

If you produce, transport or store waste you have a legal responsibility to make sure it’s recycled or managed properly. Your responsibility doesn’t stop when you contract another pass waste through the supply chain, you remain responsible.

Waste carriers must be registered with SEPA and waste should always be taken to an authorised site. 

For more information on regulation of waste management during coronavirus SEPA’s dedicated waste hub.

Supporting the resources and waste management sector

If your waste management operations are facing challenges due to coronavirus support and advice is available:

  • The Scottish Government and UK Government have introduced a range of schemes and measures to support businesses. More information about the schemes can be found here;
  • SEPA has developed a short-term regulatory position to help waste managers and easy ways to contact them. Find out more about the changes here;
  • Health Protection Scotland, Scottish Government and the waste industry have developed guidance that gives practical information on safe practice during the pandemic.

Be aware of suspicious activity

If waste isn’t managed properly it can lead to illegal storage, transportation and disposal, including flytipping or unauthorised burning. Waste criminals profit at the expense of legitimate businesses, undercutting and competing unfairly. 

Derelict sites, farm land and industrial grounds are prime targets so if you own or rent warehouses or industrial sites, carry out thorough checks on prospective tenants and stay vigilant. 

Signs of possible illegal activity to watch out for include:

  • Out-of-hours activity at night, over weekends and during bank holidays;
  • Smoke caused by constant burning;
  • An increase in the number of lorries or vans entering a site;
  • Increasing quantities of waste stockpiled on-site;
  • Odours caused by rotting waste;
  • Water pollution.

Report suspicious operations, which can be treated in confidence, to SEPA at