29 May 2020 by James Langley

Guidelines published for reopening of Scottish HWRCs

Guidance for Scottish local authorities on how to reopen and manage household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) has been published by the Scottish government and COSLA.

Key aspects of the guidance include advising limiting the number of vehicles allowed on-site, ensuring physical distancing can be maintained and reinstating or increasing the frequency of bulky and green waste uplifts following an appropriate risk assessment.

HWRCs across Scotland are to reopen on 1 June

The introduction to the guidance reads: “All local authority HWRCs have closed in order to discourage non-essential travel.

“These have been necessary changes. The resilience and innovation within the sector has already allowed for the reinstatement of some suspended recycling services relatively quickly.

“However, we recognise that ongoing prioritisation will be required as local and national circumstances continue to change in the coming weeks and months.”

On 15 May, COSLA, the national association of Scottish councils, announced HWRCs across Scotland were to reopen on 1 June (see letsrecycle.com story).

The Scottish Government and COLSA warn while there will no longer be a restriction on the public travelling outside the home for the purpose of using a HWRC, this does not mean that all sites will or should reopen.

The guidance can be read in full here.


The Scottish government and COSLA say they have identified several key principles which they say take precedence and underpin the guidance.

The Scottish government and COSLA say HWRCs must be operated in a way that protects the health and safety of the public and staff

These include protecting public health, safe operation, fairness, maximising resources and minimising disruption, protecting the environment and supply of key materials, and effective communications.

The Scottish government and COSLA say HWRCs must be operated in a way that protects the health and safety of the public and staff.

While decisions regarding the opening and operation of HWRCs are a matter for individual local authorities, it is recognised that a coordinated approach to reinstating services is important to manage public demand and avoid unintended consequences, the Scottish Government and Cosla say.

Health and safety

They say it is the duty of local authorities to ensure physical distancing can be maintained in line with Health Protection Scotland and Scottish Government guidance on physical distancing. Procedures for dealing with conflict and where individuals fail to adhere to physical distancing requirements must be in place.

The Scottish government and COSLA say hygiene facilities must be available at the HWRCs

Procedures for using facilities must be understood by staff and communicated to the public.

The Scottish government and COSLA say HWRCS may require changes the site plan to improve throughput and additional staffing requirements.

Changes to the cleaning regime may be implemented, and there must be availability of hygiene facilities and PPE in line with relevant guidance including that issued by the WISH Forum (see letsrecycle.com story).

The state of readiness of the supply chain should be assessed, which entails liaising with reprocessors and disposers to help ensure there is capacity and availability to collect and process the waste collected at HWRCs.


Defra guidance on the reopening of HWRCs in England sets out how local authorities can manage access and the number of people who are able to be on site at any one time (see letsrecycle.com story).

Guidance published by local authority associations in England also stressed the importance of social distancing (see letsrecycle.com story).


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