Responding to ESA’s “Rethinking Waste Crime” report, published earlier this week, CIWM has welcomed many of the recommendations put forward, particularly the conclusion that a review of the regulatory regime should be considered to ensure that it is fit for purpose in tackling this growing problem.
The cost of responsible waste management has risen steeply in response to a move away from landfill up the waste management hierarchy. This, coupled with low levels of awareness, ‘light’ enforcement of areas of legislation including waste Duty of Care, and the historically low penalties awarded by courts has made waste crime increasingly attractive. As a result, the compliant industry finds itself at a serious disadvantage compared to those prepared to operate either illegally or at a persistently poor standard and society as a whole suffers.
“Against this backdrop, the report rightly questions not just the level of enforcement of the current regulatory regime and the resources available to meet this growing problem, but also the effectiveness of the regime itself,” says CIWM chief executive Dr Colin Church. “Criminal activity proliferates where the risk of being caught is low compared to the financial reward and this report suggests it is time to reassess how our sector is regulated and what changes are needed to deter waste criminals and address poor performance in the future.”
In addition to welcoming the report’s proposals to strengthen the regulatory regime and competence requirements related to waste carriers, brokers and dealers, CIWM also believes the system could be tightened up in other ways. In its response to Defra’s 2015 waste crime consultation, CIWM supported proposals for wider enforcement powers to enable regulators to act more effectively and swiftly, called for a tightening up of the exemptions regime, and recommended that operator competence be required for a broader range of waste activities. It also proposed that technical competence be linked with site performance so that an individual’s competent ‘status’ can be suspended or removed for poor performance.
“We have seen a number of positive developments, including additional funding for the Environment Agency to tackle waste crime, stronger sentencing guidelines, and Government support for the Right Waste, Right Place’ campaign to raise business awareness of waste Duty of Care requirements, particularly among SMEs. In addition, CIWM has welcomed proposals by HM Treasury to extending the scope of Landfill Tax to illegal disposals,” says Dr Church.
“Discussions with Government and regulators on a range of further proposals to tackle waste crime and poor performance have been ongoing for some time. It is therefore vital that the new Government post-election turns its attention rapidly to this issue. This should include releasing the long-awaited second part of Defra’s waste crime consultation. We are seeing a constant stream of serious flytipping and dumping offences, other illegal activities, and waste fires reported on an almost daily basis, and poor performance at waste sites is an ongoing challenge for regulators at a time when budgets and resources are under pressure. This is a serious and growing issue that needs addressing and CIWM will continue to call on government to ensure that the consultation is now prioritised.”