Rogue waste criminals could be slapped with new fines if they mislabel their waste to dodge tax rules, an independent review ordered by Environment Secretary Michael Gove has recommended.
The review also concluded that compulsory electronic tracking of waste could help clamp-down on illegal movements of waste at home and abroad, and that there should be financial penalties for producers if their waste is found to be deposited illegally.
The review looked at the government’s approach to tackling waste crime, which cost the English economy more than £60m in 2015. The recommendations of the review will now be considered and responded to in Defra’s forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy.
The review found that the government should give the criminals responsible greater cause to fear the consequences of their actions.
Mr Gove said: “The threat to society from waste crime is real. Criminals are running illegal waste sites as a cover for theft, human trafficking, drug running and money laundering.
“It is costing our economy millions of pounds each year, and blighting our communities. I welcome today’s review. We are committed to clamping down on these unscrupulous groups and we will set out our next steps in our forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy.”
Other recommendations include:
- A Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) led by the Environment Agency with the Police, Crime Commissioners, HMRC and waste industry representatives working together to tackle the most serious cases; and,
- a national database of registered waste brokers to make it harder for unscrupulous operators to do businesses.
Lizzie Noel, who chaired the review, said: “In this report, we set out how we can modernise the structures, capabilities and powers to manage and reduce the problem of organised waste crime now and in the future.
“Our intention must be to give the criminals responsible real cause to fear the consequences of their actions. Today that is not the case.
I would like to record my thanks to my review team, my advisory board, colleagues at Defra and the Environment Agency.”
Between 2011 and 2017, the Environment Agency stopped the operation of 5,411 illegal waste sites.
While an average of two illegal waste sites are shut down every day, they continue to create severe problems for local communities and business, particularly in rural areas, as well as posing a risk to key national infrastructure.