SEPA pledges to help businesses turn waste into profit via new framework

“We will work with forward thinking businesses to raise awareness of the value which waste materials have and ultimately help businesses turn waste into profit…”

SEPA (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency) has launched a new framework for tackling waste, focusing on how the organisation will support a circular Scottish economy.
It announced One Planet Prosperity – A Waste to Resources Framework, which outlines how SEPA intends to drive down waste production and keep valuable materials circulating for as long as possible, while preventing and tackling the harms associated with waste management and waste crime, at the Scottish Resources Conference in Dunfermline earlier this month.
The above guiding principles form the basis of the framework and define SEPA’s approach to waste and resource management across all sectors of the economy.
Delivery of the new framework will be undertaken through sectoral engagement with industry and business, in line with SEPA’s broader Regulatory Strategy, which was officially launched in August.
The Regulatory Strategy, draws upon the new powers granted by the Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act in 2014 and includes a strong emphasis developing Sustainable Growth Agreements with industry leaders and supporting businesses who seek to find innovative and efficient ways to go beyond compliance.
Terry A’hearn, SEPA’s chief executive, said: “Unlocking the value of material resources in our economy is crucial for bringing about the radical step change needed to build a more sustainable Scotland.
“We will work with forward thinking businesses to raise awareness of the value which waste materials have and ultimately help businesses turn waste into profit.
“At this point in our journey, it is not a choice between driving resource efficiency, preventing harm or tackling crime, we must do it all and do it together.”
SEPA says the Waste to Resources Framework reflects and directly supports the aspirations within the Scottish Government Circular Economy Strategy and close partnership working with Zero Waste Scotland, Revenue Scotland, Scottish Government, Enterprise Agencies and industry remain central to achieving greater resource efficiency across all sectors of industry.
SEPA earlier reported how gas emissions from Scottish industry have fallen for the third year in a row.
The total emissions of six greenhouse gases (GHGs) from SEPA regulated industries fell again between 2014 and 2015, bringing the overall reduction since 2007 to 34%.
 The figures have been released through the Scottish Pollutant Release Inventory (SPRI) which fulfils the European reporting requirements of the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register Regulation.
The GHG reduction between 2014 and 2015 was 10%. Carbon dioxide and methane, which are the two largest contributing GHGs in terms of number of sites reporting and emissions and drive the overall GHG trend, dropped by 10% and 8% between the two years (35% and 44% since 2007).
 A’Hearn said: “The continued reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is playing a big part in helping Scotland transition to a low carbon economy.
“Many of these reductions are due to industries improving their processes and introducing new systems, which shows that businesses are taking their environmental responsibilities seriously.
“Scottish businesses understand that the ones which will thrive in the 21st century will be those which prosper from being low carbon, low waste and low resource use.”
The table below provides a breakdown of the main GHG constituents and their individual changes and trends.
Full access to the SPRI database is available here and can be searched in a number of ways including by map, pollutant and industry sector.
Data is also available on Scotland’s Environment Web, which can be searched in a variety of ways.
Greenhouse gas pollutant

2014 – 2015

 2007 – 2015

Number of sites reporting



Carbon dioxide (CO2)

10% decrease

35% decrease



Methane (CH4)

8% decrease

44% decrease



Nitrous oxide (N2O)

14% decrease

46% decrease



Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)

73% decrease

87% decrease



Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

35% increase

53% increase



Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)

77% decrease

76% decrease




Total for GHGs

10% decrease

34% decrease

While carbon dioxide and methane have high numbers of reporting sites, the other four have far fewer and therefore the annual emissions and overall trend are much more sensitive to changes at individual sites.
These changes can include sites closing, new sites starting, increase or decrease in production capacity and volumes, operational or monitoring change, accidental releases and so on.
SPRI is a very useful tool for informing people about the scale of emissions, energy use and climate change from regulated sites. It provides a valuable picture of the amount of pollutants released in Scotland.
It is important to understand that it is not a league table and does not display the “best” and “worst” performers across the country. The figures relate to mass emissions and not concentrations, so they cannot be directly linked to health, air or water quality standards. SEPA regulates these releases ensuring they are within health and environmental standards.

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