Charity calls for action on slavery in the waste sector

Businesses in the waste industry must do more to tackle ‘modern day slavery’ and human trafficking, an official from an anti-slavery charity has claimed.

Nigel Oseman, lead trainer at the charity Hope for Justice, was speaking at an event in Wolverhampton last week (11 April), organised by the outsourcing waste company Reconomy, to raise awareness of its social value programme ‘RSVP’.

Nigel Oseman warned that many elements of the waste sector make it ‘attractive’ to traffickers

During his presentation Mr Oseman suggested that people traffickers see the waste sector as ‘attractive’ and called for increased vigilance and cooperation from within the sector to address the issue.

He said: “Organised crime groups make a lot of money out of moving people across the countryside to exploit them. The waste management industry has multiple supply chains, with many different tiers, great opportunities to infiltrate the victims upstream and down.”

Mr. Oseman added: “Companies in the waste sector need an oversight of the whole supply chain. There needs to be transparency there. For example with outsourced, low skilled labour, the traffickers know it is difficult to recruit people, and often they do it for you, even infiltrating blue chip recruitment agencies to get their staff in.

“Some operators have a very limited knowledge as well, we all need to know more, and traffickers will take advantage of that.”

Companies who turnover more than £36 million lawfully have to have an anti-slavery statement on their website, but there is no obligation for companies below that threshold to do so.

Mr Oseman urged smaller businesses to follow suit, and used Reconomy’s anti-slavery statement as an example of good practice as well as highlighting the company’s pledge not work with businesses without proof that they are working to tackle the issue.


Last week’s event followed on from the launch of the ‘Reconomy Social Value Programme (RSVP)’, last month (see story).

Diane Crowe, head of sustainability and social value at Reconomy, outlined several aspects of the RSVP programme, including working with suppliers to help vulnerable groups in society.

Diane Crowe, head of sustainability and social value at Reconomy, updated attendees on the company’s RSVP programme

“Sustainability isn’t new for Reconomy, and it has been something we are working on for years, but we are looking to now move it onto the next level,” Ms Crowe explained.

“We’re really keen to take action together, and really make changes as a waste industry. Our overall objective is to be recognised as the UK’s leading sustainable business in our sector”.

The three main strands of the programme are to ‘bridge gaps’ for young people leaving care, ‘break barriers’ for ex-offenders and the homeless and ‘support change’ in the wider industry, she explained.

As part of this, the company has ring-fenced 1% of PBIT (profit before interest and tax) for investment in social value projects and also aims to generate £2 million of ‘social value revenue’ within two years.

This includes programmes to rehabilitate offenders and specialist training schemes for children leaving the care system.

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