Campaign to help people in Scotland manage their waste during COVID-19 crisis

To help householders and businesses manage their waste during the COVID-19 crisis, Zero Waste Scotland, SEPA, COSLA and the Scottish Government have launched a campaign to raise awareness of changes to local waste collections, providing guidance and directing people to up-date-information.

The new website – – sets out to give householders and businesses updates and guidance on how to manage waste.

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Refuse collectors are working in exceptional conditions to maintain as many essential services as they can. Now is a good time to avoid wasting so much as this is ultimately the best way to help councils cope.

Now is a good time to avoid wasting so much as this is ultimately the best way to help councils cope.

“Zero Waste Scotland is working with key partners to communicate changes to householders and businesses in Scotland in the meantime. We’d encourage everyone to visit the campaign website to find out how they can best manage their waste.”

What householders can do

Everyone can take action to reduce the pressure on essential services and manage their waste. Zero Waste Scotland has issued the following guidance for householders:

  • Wash and squash: Washing means there is less contamination in your bin and squashing your recyclables leaves room for more. Fill up existing bins with as much waste as you can.
  • Try home composting: Vegetable and fruit peelings, eggs shells, tea leaves and coffee grounds can go in a standard compost bin and create a natural fertiliser for plants.
  • Keep items at home until recycling centres reopen: Now is not the time to try and get rid of large items following a spring clean. Clearing up after flytippers ultimately costs the taxpayer, leaving less funding for essential services. Report flytipping via the Dumb Dumpers form on theZero Waste Scotland website or reporting directly to the council.

Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 should follow government advice on securely storing personal waste to help keep themselves and waste management workers safe.

This means placing items such as used tissues in a disposable rubbish bag which should be placed in another bag, tied securely, kept separate from other waste and put aside for at least 72 hours before it is put out for collection.

Thank you

Environment and Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham last week wrote a letter conveying thanks for all of the work undertaken by the waste sector.

She said: “We owe a massive thank you to all those in the waste industry who are working hard to keep services running in challenging circumstances. While they do their best for us it’s vitally important that we do what we can to help them by following the advice on properly dealing with and reducing waste.

“The new campaign website offers lots of safe ways to help people avoid waste and protect the environment. This includes instructions on safe disposal of certain items and on keeping large items at home until recycling centres open because fly-tipping is not acceptable.

“We all have to make necessary changes to help limit the spread of the virus. By following this advice, we can help those who are working hard to keep our services running.”

Staying compliant

Terry A’Hearn, chief executive of SEPA, said the regulatory body will be “uncompromising” towards those that choose to deliberately do the wrong thing.

He said: “Now more than ever, we need to recognise the responsibility we have for the waste we produce, store, transport and dispose of. We all have a role to play in managing our waste during this period.

“At SEPA, we are supporting vital waste services by helping businesses to adapt. We have published guidance to help those who are struggling, as well as temporary regulatory guidance specifically for waste management.

We will be uncompromising towards those that choose to deliberately do the wrong thing

“Equally, we will be uncompromising towards those that choose to deliberately do the wrong thing. Remember, services that sound too good to be true often are, and could lead to illegal fly-tipping, burning or illegal disposal.

“We all have a legal responsibility to ensure that only licensed professionals handle our waste. SEPA maintains an online register of licensed waste carriers and brokers enabling the public or businesses to check and ensure that contractors are sufficiently compliant.”

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