OPINION: With the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) underway in Glasgow, the world’s attention is rightly drawn to the critical environmental problems facing us and what can be done to tackle them.
It’s fair to say that waste crime may not be top of these world leader’s agendas, but in the waste and recycling sector, waste crime remains an issue which is causing significant environmental harm.
Waste crime is often carried out by gangs and individuals using fake waste services and without the necessary permits for transporting and storing waste. The waste is then illegally dumped to avoid paying the necessary landfill taxes. The cost of this to the UK economy is estimated to be a staggering £600m per year – and this is a conservative estimate.
Proper enforcement remains one of the key barriers to tackling waste crime. It is currently far too difficult to bring about a prosecution, and a lack of proper deterrence is making it too easy for perpetuators to simply get away with it. This is an issue the sector has raised concerns about time and time again and will continue to do so until legislation is changed.
The Chancellor recently announced his Autumn Budget and Spending Review and as a sector we were watching with interest. It was disappointing then not to see additional funding for the Environment Agency and Joint Unit for Waste Crime, as this is desperately needed to help with the implementation of tougher enforcement measures for perpetrators.
The Government’s long awaited Environment Bill continues to work its way through Parliament; when passed, this will include important powers to help with the tackling of rogue operators who illegally dump or export waste. We continue to monitor the Bill and hope there will be no more delays to this vital piece of legislation.
‘Easy to turn a blind eye’
Whilst it may also be easy for our sector to turn a blind eye to the impact of waste crime, the reputation of the whole sector is damaged as a result of these crimes, let alone the damage to society and the environment. Until legislation changes to ensure the punishments properly reflects the crimes, it remains a major concern to me that the issue will never be adequately dealt with.
The reputation of the whole sector is damaged as a result of these crimes
I hope the sector will continue to work together to raise awareness of the seriousness of the issue and that the measures included in the Environment Bill represent a step-change in the Government’s legislative agenda to finally tackle waste crime for good.
Waste Crime Conference | 02 December | Pinsent Masons
The Waste Crime conference will explore types of waste crime, actions that have been taken to target the problem and future steps. Join us to discuss the key challenges facing the industry. This one-day event is a must attend for anyone that works to prevent and enforce or is affected by waste crime including theft, illegal sites and fly tipping.
Book your ticket here.