Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): reopening and managing household waste recycling centres

Published: 27 May 2020
Last updated: 19 Jul 2021 - see all updates

Joint Scottish Government and COSLA guidance for local authorities on the considerations involved in reopening and operating Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) in the context of COVID-19.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): reopening and managing household waste recycling centres
Key principles

Key principles

In addition to principles and duties enshrined in legislation (including application of the waste hierarchy), the following key principles take precedence and underpin this guidance:

Protecting public health

Protecting public health should be a primary concern in all decisions. This applies to both decisions around prioritisation of waste streams and also in the way services are operated.

Safe operation

The personal health, safety and wellbeing of those who provide waste services must be safeguarded by acting in accordance with relevant legislation and applying relevant published guidance. See also the Health and Safety section below.


Proper account should be taken of those living in disadvantaged circumstances or needing support and those residents with limited storage capacity at their dwellings.

Maximising resources and minimising disruption

As those waste services that are currently suspended or reduced are restored, it is important that this done in light of available resources and that it does not occur at the expense of other key services. See the suggested prioritisation of services in annex A.

Protecting the environment and supply of key materials

Recycling plays a key role in our move to a circular economy, benefitting:

  • the environment, by cutting waste and carbon emissions
  • the economy, by improving productivity, maintaining the supply of materials needed for key supply chains, and opening up new markets
  • communities, by providing local employment opportunities and lower cost options to access the goods we need

Where possible, decisions should take into account the potential to maintain these benefits.

Effective communications

Providing effective information and guidance to householders, the workforce and businesses to help them understand any temporary service changes, and what is being asked of them, particularly in terms of measures required to maintain public health and worker safety.

First published: 27 May 2020 Last updated: 19 Jul 2021 -