What's happening to your waste?

Time for the ‘Big Spring Clean’.  The box room, shed, and garage all need a deep cleanse, getting rid of those old kid’s toys, ill-advised sofa, and a 1970’s style cabinet all your friends found amusing.  Whilst the image of a usable garage grows stronger, a flyer comes through the door offering to collect waste from your house for an extremely reasonable rate.  Easier than a trip to the local tip and lots cheaper than hiring a skip.  Sounds too good to be true, but when you check the helpful person on the phone confirms the price and collection time.

You roll your sleeves up and get cracking, and within a week, your spring clean is done and all that waste has been collected and disposed of properly.  Probably. I mean, they are a proper company so they’ve done the right thing haven’t they?

Next thing you know, your friend sends you a picture of your 1970’s cabinet, only now it’s sitting on top of an old mattress next to the local river, with tonnes of other waste.

In 2016-17 household and commercial waste was the primary waste type identified at 37% of illegal dumping incidents, and 27% of illegal waste sites that the Environment Agency tackled. 

Perhaps your cabinet, old clothes and kid’s toys are now part of the problem of illegal waste dumping occurring around the country.  Did you leave any old junk mail in the drawer with your name on?  Maybe a reporter will come knocking on your door asking how your cabinet ended up causing a blight on the landscape.

Your waste is now part of a rotting pile, causing an eye sore, terrible smell, has become home to rats, circling seagulls and countless potential accidents if children decide to investigate what’s in there. The river is polluted from some dodgy looking cans, dead fish wash up downstream and suddenly your cabinet is appearing on the TV and in the papers.

Surely someone can just throw it all in the back of a van though? 

Unfortunately it’s not that easy. Only the illegal operators know what’s been dumped there. Its’ not just your cabinet, it could be mixed in with clinical waste and sharps, hazardous waste like chemicals or even asbestos.  Would you fancy picking that up?

Clearing illegally dumped waste is a huge drain on resources, the local council and the Environment Agency.  The economic impact of waste crime in England is over £600m a year; the average price of a skip is £184. £600m could build a new hospital - and staff it, if together we managed to stamp out this activity.

If you pay someone to remove rubbish from your property and it’s then illegally dumped you could be prosecuted.

Nick Daykin, Thames area Enforcement Team Leader at the Environment Agency said:

“Waste crime is a very serious issue for local communities and the environment.  We continually use reports from industry and the public to build intelligence and target our work at those involved in organised environmental crime and where their activities pose the greatest risk to the environment.  

Everyone can do their bit to reduce waste crime by making sure that any waste for disposal is collected by a licenced waste carrier and taken to a properly permitted, legitimate waste site. Ultimately, we want to make sure the right waste goes to the right place.”

Nick added: “The relatively new power to seize vehicles is now an important weapon in our armoury for disrupting this type of criminal activity. This is a big message to criminals, you set up site yesterday, we take your vehicle off the road today and we will do it again tomorrow.

Using illegal waste dealers seems tempting in terms of cost, but it funds organised crime. Everyone has a responsibility for their own waste; if yours is found at an illegal site you could be facing fines of up to £5,000. To avoid this, we encourage the public and local businesses to:

  • ask their waste carrier for proof of their Waste Carrier’s Registration. You can check their licence number online: environment.data.gov.uk/public register, or call the EA to check: 03708 506506
  •  get a written receipt ‘waste transfer note’, showing their contact details, a description of your waste and details of where they are taking it. Note down the make, colour and registration number of the vehicle that’s taking your waste away.

If you pay someone to remove rubbish from your property and it’s then illegally dumped you could be prosecuted.

Remember, if their quote seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Make sure you get another quote to see if it’s in the right ballpark.  Taking these steps will help us all work together to deter the waste criminal and reduce the blight of illegal fly-tipping and dumping on communities that costs thousands to clear up and make safe.

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