The UK’s Waste Compliance Taskforce (WACT) will be officially launched this week, forging what is aimed at being ‘a new way of working’ to tackle waste crime.
WACT comprises a number of organisations from across the public and private sector, including regulators, trade associations, landowners, businesses and charities.
Its aim is to raise awareness of waste crime and work towards combatting it by helping businesses and organisations to be compliant.
It will do this through a number of working groups which will aim to understand, tackle and ultimately reduce waste crime, covering the issue from ‘all angles’.
The Waste Compliance Taskforce (WACT) was formerly known as the Legitimate Waste Trade Advisory Group, a multi-agency project co-funded by the EU LIFE Programme and led by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
It was originally set up by SEPA under the LIFE SMART Waste project. The work undertaken by that group demonstrated that a collective and cross-border approach was vital in bringing about a meaningful reduction in the levels of waste crime. This ongoing partnership engagement forms a key part of the LSW After LIFE activity.
Once the project was complete, members felt the group was likely to have an increasingly important role in raising awareness and tackling waste crime at source, and so have relaunched as the Waste Compliance Taskforce.
Stuart Foster, CEO of plastics charity RECOUP, Fellow of the CIWM and Chair of WACT, said: “Waste crime is the scourge of our industry. It’s estimated that it costs the UK economy around £1 billion a year but it also potentially puts lives at risk and erodes the public’s trust in the waste and recycling sector.
“It’s crucial that we all come together now to tackle this from every angle so that the organised criminals who are making money out of illegal activities involving the UK’s waste are stopped once and for all.”
UK governments and the resources and waste sector are already working more closely in this area and WACT, with its wider membership, has an important contribution to make to the development of smarter and more effective frameworks to deal with waste crime
The aim of WACT is to gather and share intelligence about waste crime and to understand some of the challenges being faced by certain waste streams.
The WACT group will work with businesses from all sectors of the waste and recycling industry and beyond, including landowners who are the victims of waste crime and waste producers who can inadvertently become caught up in it by unscrupulous criminals.
It plans to use intelligence to design interventions to tackle waste crime, and to communicate what it has learnt in order to influence policy and legislative changes.
WACT’s remit is separate to that of the Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) which was launched by the Government at the start of this year as part of its Resources and Waste Strategy.
The JUWC is made up of law enforcement agencies, environmental regulators, HMRC and the National Crime Agency and its remit is to enforce the law.
“Tackling the growing problem of waste crime is going to require much more proactive cross-sector collaboration, from more effective intelligence sharing through to promoting a better understanding of the risks of waste crime and raising awareness in areas such as Duty of Care,” added Stuart.
“UK governments and the resources and waste sector are already working more closely in this area and WACT, with its wider membership, has an important contribution to make to the development of smarter and more effective frameworks to deal with waste crime.”
Sam Corp, Head of Regulation at the Environmental Services Association (ESA), said: “ESA is pleased to support the work of the Taskforce which chimes with our own work on tackling waste crime by raising awareness of and compliance with waste regulations, promoting proactive and effective enforcement and supporting policy makers to develop more effective ways to help keep the criminals out of our sector.”