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Coronavirus (COVID-19): waste sector guidance

Support and information available for those working in the waste sector.

This document is part of a collection

Health and safety

  • it is absolutely right that the personal health and wellbeing of those who work in the waste sector is safeguarded at all times and all employers should be taking steps to address that
  • the UK waste industry has developed a detailed information document through the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum that provides detailed practical information on COVID-19 and waste management activities. It is based on Government advice, industry experience and current knowledge
  • the Health and Safety Executive website FAQ pages answer many questions, both general and specific to the waste sector, on health and safety matters
  • any key worker who has developed symptoms can arrange a test to find out if they have coronavirus. Please visit the NHS website for more information 
  • guidance on the Scottish Government’s Test and Protect Policy can be found on the Scottish Government website
  • we have published advice on the public use of face coverings – please take the time to read this
  • the Scottish workbook 2020 guidance on the Scottish Government website contains information on the approach to outbreak management in Scotland and advice on responding to an outbreak
  • sector advice cards are available on the Scottish Government website for further advice on safety in the workplace

Physical distancing and hygiene

  • we have published the outcomes of a review of physical distancing please take the time to read this
  • we acknowledge that physical distancing, where applicable, within some workplace settings in the waste sector will be harder to maintain than others, and that for work designated as essential there may be circumstances where the physical distancing rules cannot be followed despite all possible steps being taken to try to maintain this
  • Health Protection Scotland has published guidance for non-healthcare settings

Business support

  • we have actively engaged with the waste and resources sector to understand the specific issues that businesses in the sector are facing, and what assistance may be needed to support the restoration and recovery of the sector and the wider economy
  • Zero Waste Scotland is also offering businesses based in Scotland one-to-one consultancy support to help them deal with the issues created through the current pandemic and help them maximise their recycling and recovery opportunities
  • information on other support that may be available to you can be found on the Scottish Government business support page and the find business support website
  • Zero Waste Scotland have developed a matching service for organisations to offer resource to local authorities during the crisis

Household Waste Recycling Centres

  • Scottish Government and COSLA guidance has been developed with input from Local Authorities, including waste managers and SOLACE, as well as the wider waste industry, Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) and SEPA. Engagement will continue with Trades Unions regarding the safe operation of sites on an ongoing basis at both local and national level
  • the guidance offers advice to Local Authorities on the considerations involved in reopening and operating HWRCs in the context of COVID-19. However, it is recognised that decisions on such matters also need to reflect local circumstances which Local Authorities are best placed to assess

Householders – managing waste

  • Zero Waste Scotland has published guidance on managing household waste to help ease pressure on essential services during the crisis. Please visit www.managingourwaste.scot for more information

Businesses - managing waste

  • SEPA have published information for waste producers and waste managers. Please visit SEPA’s hub for more information
  • companies must continue to meet environmental standards during the COVID-19 crisis. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has published an updated regulatory position in relation to COVID-19 and guidance documents to assist businesses to meet obligations


Waste from asymptomatic testing using Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs)

  • a programme of asymptomatic mass testing is being undertaken across a range of settings in Scotland, including healthcare, social care, education, workplace and community settings. The majority of asymptomatic mass testing is performed using Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs)
  • SEPA have published Scotland specific guidance on managing waste arising from LFD testing. SEPA’s guidance, which applies only in Scotland, is available here: SEPA: Management of waste arising from Lateral Flow Device testing
  • Public Health Scotland and SEPA have set out answers to commonly asked questions regarding the management of waste arising from the use of Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs) to test for asymptomatic cases of COVID-19: FAQs: disposal of waste from Lateral Flow Device Testing 
  • if you are unable to follow SEPA’s guidance for any reason please contact nationalwaste@sepa.org.uk

Useful links

Wider Scottish Government information on COVID-19

  • our central pages provide a summary of our overall response to the virus. Links to updates and other published information and support are on the main COVID landing page

Up-to-date information on current levels, rules, and planned dates for lifting coronavirus restrictions are available in the levels section.

  • Scotland follows a COVID-19 levels system. There are five levels (0-4) and each has a different set of rules
  • find out the level and rules for an area using the postcode checker
  • get information on the latest COVID-19 situation
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