ESA says penalty threats not disincentivising waste crime


waste crime

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) says the prevalence of waste crime shows the risk of detection and threat of penalty is not sufficient to disincentivise criminals.

Chairman of the ESA, Gavin Graveson, has written to the new Chief Executive of the Environment Agency (EA) Philip Duffy about his concerns over the “unacceptable situation” with waste crime. He wrote that it is “imperative” the EA achieves more effective enforcement outcomes.

The EA’s National Waste Crime 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.

In his letter, Graveson tells Duffy they’re at a crossroads and says inaction will let the industry “drift further into the hands of criminals”. He also says that the ESA believe waste crime’s impact on the sector is the worst it has ever been.

Graveson also says the “severity and impact” of waste crime are not yet fully understood but it’s “clear that criminals are making huge profits” at the expense of legitimate operators. He continues that waste crime is undermining the sector’s investment in new infrastructure and the pursuit of higher standards – which Graveson says will underpin the UK’s transition to a circular economy.

Inaction will let the industry “drift further into the hands of criminals.

The letter reads: “Reflecting the severity of the situation, we have commissioned and published three comprehensive reports over the last decade with Eunomia, highlighting the extent of waste crime and its impact on the economy and environment.

“Eunomia has helped research content for this letter and our recent research with them forecasted that known waste crime costs England about £1bn annually (ESA and Eunomia, 2021). In reality, the figure is likely to be substantially higher than this. Despite this knowledge, the situation has not improved and has in fact, been deteriorating.”

Graveson also sets out a call to action on how to tackle the waste crime problem. These actions include putting adequate resources towards tackling waste crime, implementing more effective enforcement, fast-tracking regulatory reform and improving the measurement of waste crime.

The situation has not improved and has in fact, been deteriorating.

He tells Duffy that the ESA’s members perceive that it takes “far too long” to stop illegal activity, with protracted routes to enforcement and insufficient use of available powers. Graveson also says that members also perceive that the EA takes a “risk-averse” approach to prosecuting illegal activities.

Regarding regulatory reform, Graveson says the EA must modernise the regulatory regime, improve enforcement efforts, develop secure sources of enforcement funding and improve cross-regulatory cooperation and awareness raising.

Graveson says the key themes the ESA expect to be reported are metrics which capture all types of waste crime, an assessment of the quantities and types of waste involved in each case of crime and the time taken by the EA from detection to stop each reported case of waste crime.

Send this to a friend