Landfill is an important part of Scotland’s waste management infrastructure, currently providing a disposal solution for around 4 million tonnes of waste each year. However, it has one of the poorer compliance records of the sectors that we regulate. The Landfill Sector Plan focuses on how SEPA will work with the sector to solve these compliance issues and support innovation to go beyond compliance.
The landfill sector is facing significant business challenges, predominantly reducing waste inputs driven by increasing waste reuse and recycling and the 2021 biodegradable municipal waste ban. The sector has a poor compliance record resulting from some legacy issues, the difficulties in solving some chronic problems such as odour, some historic poor practices and the level of priority given to environmental compliance by the operators. Solving these compliance issues is the primary focus of this sector plan. At the same time, we will also be working to spark innovation on issues such as the capture of landfill gas.
Legislation requires that landfill waste management activities are conducted in accordance with the EU Waste Framework Directive, the Landfill Directive and the waste hierarchy. Together these prevent, or reduce the potential impact of, pollution of the environment or harm to human health and encourage sustainable use of resources.
Since 2003, operational landfills have been regulated by SEPA through a permit issued under the Pollution Prevention and Control regime (PPC), taking account of the standards expressed in the EC Landfill Directive and Landfill (Scotland) Regulations 2003 (as amended).
Landfill operators are also required to comply with other legal obligations enforced directly by SEPA, such as Duty of Care. SEPA staff can also assess compliance with partner agencies’ legislation, such as Scottish Landfill Tax and the Landfill Tax Communities Fund. We work jointly with partner law enforcement agencies where there are shared interests.