Householders risk a 5,000 fine unless they use properly-authorised companies to collect unwanted furniture, televisions, garden or construction waste.
New regulations come into force this week giving all householders a “Duty of Care” to ensure their rubbish is passed on to licenced carriers if it is not picked up by local councils.
Defra hopes the threat of fines will help reduce the 500,000 incidents of household waste fly-tipping which occurred last year.
Registered waste carriers other than the local council can now be found online via a new 'waste carrier register' set up by the Environment Agency.
Announcing the changes to the Duty of Care regulations for waste, local environment minister Ben Bradshaw called for anyone using a private waste firm to look at the register, or call their local Environment Agency office.
He said: “Fly-tippers rely on people not asking questions, and not checking for registration – but now all householders have a responsibility to ask those questions, and check for that registration.
“Waste cowboys can make huge sums of money by charging to take household rubbish away illegally, before dumping it over the nearest hedge. If that rubbish is traced back to the household it came from, the householder could now be fined,” the minister explained.
The new powers come under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, but ministers denied they were aiming to “scare people”, explaining the move was to provide another check in the fight to prevent fly-tipping.
Local authorities welcomed the new powers, with the Local Government Association's environment board chair, Cllr David Sparks, commenting: “The new regulations are an extra weapon in the armoury to eliminate fly-tippers and fly-tipping. They are all about householders working with their council to combat the blight of fly-tipping and make sure rubbish is dealt with properly and responsibly.
“The target is not responsible citizens who keep their neighbourhoods clean, but those who are intent on dumping their rubbish for everyone else to clean up.”
For householders concerned about a waste collector's authorization, the Environment Agency is offering them an “instant Waste Carrier Validation Check” by telephoning 08708 506506 or online at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/publicregister