The Environment Agency‘s National Waste Crime Survey of informed stakeholders suggests 18% of waste in England may be managed illegally.
The Environment Agency’s (EA) third national survey on the extent and nature of waste crime found 18% of all waste in England was perceived to be illegally managed, which is approximately 34 million tonnes every year.
The EA says the findings provide the evidence it needs to “update and refine” its approach to enforcement. Respondents felt that waste crime requires severe sanctions, with court-issued penalties, visible activities, disruption tactics and criminal sanctions considered the most effective deterrents, the EA says.
The survey also found 25% of waste crime is thought to be reported to the EA, with many organisations raising concerns about reporting mechanisms and enforcement action. The EA also says the survey respondents believe the increased cost of living to be increasing the scale of waste crime.
We know crime in the waste sector is rife and this survey provides us with the evidence we need to help.
In the 2021/22 financial year, the Agency brought 94 prosecutions against individuals and companies for waste crime offences, resulting in total fines exceeding £6.2 million.
The EA says it prosecuted fewer waste crime cases because of its new enforcement strategy, adopted in 2021, which focused on prevention. The strategy sees specialist EA teams collaborate closely and share intelligence with partners including the police, HMRC and the DVSA.
Steve Molyneux, the EA’s strategic lead on waste regulation, commented: “Waste criminals put us all at risk every time they break the law. Their toxic crimes cause widespread and significant harm to people, places and the economy.
“The EA is facing well-resourced, highly organised criminals whose crimes stretch beyond the waste sector to include human trafficking, drugs and money laundering.
“We know crime in the waste sector is rife and this survey provides us with the evidence we need to help us stay one step ahead of the criminal gangs.”