Duty of care: code of practice for managing controlled waste

Statutory guidance on the duties that must be complied with by anyone who produces, keeps, imports or manages controlled waste in Scotland.

3 The Waste Hierarchy

The European Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/ EC) came into force on 12 December 2010 with the intention of turning EU member states into "recycling societies". The Directive aims to shift the focus away from waste being an unwanted burden towards being a valued resource, which can provide opportunities for sustainable growth in a low carbon economy.

This resource centered approach is summarised in the five step waste hierarchy. Driving waste management up the waste hierarchy is central to the development of sustainable waste management in Scotland and the ambition of a zero waste society.

Five step waste hierarchy for resource centered approach

Preventing waste, through reducing consumption, using resources efficiently, designing longevity and regeneration into consumer goods and substituting less harmful and more sustainable alternative raw materials into products, is the best option. This is followed by re-use of goods such as clothing, books and furniture and repair and remanufacture of products and machinery. Closed loop recycling of materials such as paper, glass, metals and plastic is the next preferable option and generally constitutes the priority 'high quality' recycling as described above. If unable to reuse or recycle in a closed loop, then recovering value, either through low quality recycling or in the form of energy is promoted over landfill.

The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2011 and the Waste Management Licensing (Scotland) Regulations 2011 place a duty on all persons who produce, keep or manage waste, including Local Authorities, to take all reasonable steps to apply the waste hierarchy.

It is your duty to take all reasonable steps to apply the waste hierarchy. You must therefore apply the hierarchy as a priority order to the management of your waste. This goes hand in hand with the duty to promote 'high quality recycling'. The Waste Hierarchy Guidance (available from the Scottish Government's web site) provides details of the priority outcomes for a range of common waste streams.

This Code of Practice provides advice on how materials can be delivered in sufficient quality so that closed loop recycling is possible, in line with the waste hierarchy and the requirement to ensure high quality recycling.


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