The pandemic saw fly-tipping rates accelerate, with 1.13m incidents recorded from March 2020-March 2021 alone. New government measures seek to crack-down on criminal elements within the waste industry.
Source: Express & Star
Tougher Checks & Digital Tracking Proposed for Waste Management
It has been announced that the UK government is to undertake consultation to gather thoughts on new proposals to increase the background checks applied to firms involved in the handling, transport, and trading of waste. The proposals would be used to ensure waste management is authorised, with these measures enacted alongside enhanced monitoring of the movement and disposal of waste.
It follows reports from December 2021 which found that fly-tipping in the UK had increased over the course of the pandemic. According to DEFRA[i], in England between March 2020 and March 2021, 1.13m fly-tipping incidents were dealt with by local authorities, an increase of 16% on the 980,000 reported in the previous year. Further, as Edie.com reports, in the in 2018/19 period alone, waste crime cost the English economy around £924 million.
Additional proposals also include a mandatory digital tracking system. This measure would utilise powers contained in the new Environment Act, to overhaul existing waste record keeping. The new system would see organisations that handle waste record information from the point of production through to disposal, including recycling and reuse. It is hoped this system will better detect cases of waste crime such as including fly-tipping, illegal waste sites, and illegal waste exports.
Tackling rogue criminal elements now a target for government
The measures seek to target so called rogue elements in the waste industry; firms who show no desire to follow the correct procedures around the disposal of waste. On the matter, Environment Minister Jo Churchill said:
“Waste criminals show complete disregard for our communities, the environment and the taxpayer. We have disrupted these rogue operators by giving extra powers to the Environment Agency, with nearly 1,000 illegal waste sites now being shut down each year, while our new Joint Unit for Waste Crime is successfully disrupting criminal gangs, for example, prosecuting fly-tippers illegally dumping hundreds of tonnes of hazardous waste across the countryside. But there is more to do. Reforming the licensing system will clamp down on abuse of the system and new mandatory digital waste tracking will greatly improve transparency in the sector and make it easier for householders to check that their waste is being disposed of legally. Together, these reforms will stop criminals abusing the waste system and make it easier to prosecute offenders successfully.”
The surge in illegal activity within the waste industry, as well as the dumping of waste, has also been blamed in-part on changes in behaviour by consumers seen during the pandemic and ‘lockdown’ periods. For example, in Great Yarmouth which saw fly-tipping incidents reach 2,146 cases in 2020/21, an increase of 44% compared to 2019/20[ii]. The borough council believe that the rise is from people carrying out DIY and clearing properties during lockdown. It is therefore hoped that a return to some form of normality as we exit the pandemic, will also help to reduce the frequency of fly-tipping incidents.
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