New research funded by Material Focus, the not for profit behind the Recycle Your Electricals campaign, has published research which looks at gaps in the system that lead to the ‘high incidences of fly-tipping in the UK’.
The report “An Independent Study into Fly-tipping and Unregistered Waste Carriers in England” was conducted by Air & Space Evidence and EPR.
The research examined who was advertising waste collection services online in ten UK areas and compared over 4,700 business names to entries in the carrier, broker and dealer (CBD) registration system which determines who can legally move waste.
The research also sought the views of an expert panel of stakeholders from academia, the waste industry, and former Government and regulatory officials.
Material Focus says that evidence gathered suggests that the existing CBD regime both ‘does not function effectively’ and is being ‘misused’.
The fact that there are high numbers of unregistered carriers in practice is clearly a significant issue which means that waste electricals and other forms of waste aren’t being properly recycled
The research estimated that nearly two-thirds (63%) of businesses, 238,741 individuals or organisations in England, are offering to handle waste that appear to be unregistered when advertising their services.
Evasion rates for comparative sectors, including some that require similar forms of formal registration, usually fall between the 1 and 8% range, such as TV licences, car tax evasion, and gas safety.
Scott Butler, Executive Director, Material Focus, said: “This research has revealed for the first time the scale and type of the unlicensed waste carrier activity and the ways this might be contributing to the extreme number of fly-tipping incidents in the UK.
“The fact that there are high numbers of unregistered carriers in practice is clearly a significant issue which means that waste electricals and other forms of waste aren’t being properly recycled.”
Material Focus says there is ‘strong evidence’ that a significant challenge within the sector could be connected organised networks of unregistered waste carriers across the UK, as opposed to one-man operators.
Some appeared to be spending as much as £150,000 per annum on advertising for each trader in multiple locations across England.
The researchers estimated that a single typical network of operators could generate a profit from landfill tax evasion of between £5.4 million and £13.2 million each year.
Whilst great reliance has been placed on businesses and householders being required to check whether carriers are CBD registered, the researchers found that the online register that enables them to make these checks does not allow them to do so effectively.
CIWM has been working closely with industry, regulator and Defra in developing the latter’s proposals for regulatory reform. The report shows that toughening up the regulatory system for waste carriers alone will not bring about compliance.
Ray Purdy, Director, Air & Space Evidence said: “In light of the colossal levels of fly-tipping and illegal waste dumping that are being experienced in the UK a detailed investigation as to where all of this waste might be coming from and who was moving it was long overdue.
“This research shines a light on how waste criminality is happening, providing evidence that there are extremely high numbers of people and businesses moving waste which appear to be operating illegally under the radar. We also show which social media and advertising platforms they are using, and that much of this activity might involve organised nationwide networks. It is hoped this new evidence will enable Government and regulatory bodies to respond and make current systems better.”
Chartered Waste Manager, John Galvin MBE, who assisted in the final report, said: “This is a sad indictment of the failure of the registration system for carriers and the ease with which many operate completely outside the regulatory framework.’
“CIWM has been working closely with industry, regulator and Defra in developing the latter’s proposals for regulatory reform. The report shows that toughening up the regulatory system for waste carriers alone will not bring about compliance.
“Some fundamental changes to prevent illegal carriers from advertising their business in the first place and greater awareness by householders of their Duty of Care continues to be important.”