A recently-released report by the Environmental Services Association (ESA) has claimed that £568m is spent each year in clean-up costs and lost tax revenue from waste crime.
In addition, fly-tipping and illegal dumping of waste causes significant problems to the environment and public health as well as blighting communities.
Responsible and legitimate businesses like J&B Recycling can be affected by cowboy traders - who will collect things such as bulky household items without having the correct licences - but it is rogue operators that cause the most damage.
The Chartered Institute of Waste Management (CIWM) has done its bit to help raise awareness by producing a handbook highlighting the issues to distribute around the business community.
The ESA report said: “Waste crime in the UK is widespread and endemic. It takes many different forms: at one end, a builder saving a few pounds by fly-tipping rubble in a local field; at the other, illegal waste sites processing thousands of tonnes of waste, and seemingly legitimate operators misclassifying waste in order to evade a tax bill that could total many millions of pounds.
“Government has rightly implemented policy measures to support recycling and promote a resource economy, but these have raised the cost of legitimate waste disposal. Evading these costs allows criminals to profit; but while they gain, everyone else loses.”
As the ESA report highlights and the CIWM has referred to in its handbook, this is a major problem which can damage the reputation of the waste and recycling sector and counteract all the good work and efforts of legitimate operators and the Environment Agency
There are plenty of genuine collection services available to collect and process waste, but sadly there are a number of unlicensed collectors taking payment and showing disregard for where they are tipping waste. On top of that, news stories of significant waste crimes by operators appear with disappointing regularity in the media.
They may allow their waste to be taken away in good faith, but if those items are traced back to them then they are the ones who could be fined or even taken to court.
Just last month, a crackdown on fly-tipping in Darlington saw eight people fined more than £4,000 after they were found guilty of a number of offences including dumping household waste and building materials, abandoning vehicles and failing to answer questions over fly-tipping allegations.
Businesses as well as householders need to take care of where they are disposing of their waste so not to run the risk of prosecution.
Only holders of a waste carrier's licence can recover, transport and then dispose of waste.
This is an increasing problem, but it is important that people know the rules to avoid getting into trouble with the authorities.
The producer of the waste also has a duty of care to ensure they are correctly disposed of. That duty of care doesn’t end the moment the waste is taken away from the premises, they need to know that the end destination is legitimate.
There have been lots of cases where waste is traced back to its source and the business has been penalised.
As a business, J&B Recycling have regular calls with our customers to keep them in the loop and they too know they can call us with any queries or concerns they may have.
My advice to anyone who is planning on getting rid of waste is to research the background of the company or person they are going to use. People need to take responsibility for their waste.
Waste and environmental crime can be reported to the Environment Agency incident hotline on 0800 807060 or to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111