Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is asking farmers and land owners to be aware of requests to store baled waste on their land.
It follows recent incidents where farmers across Wales have accepted waste for temporary storage.
The waste, which can be highly combustible, not only causes harm to the natural environment but can also affect people’s livelihoods as land owners will be responsible for any costs or enforcement action taken by NRW, it says.
Mark Oughton of NRW’s Tackling Waste Crime team, said: “This is a growing problem across Wales driven by criminal gangs.
We want to warn farmers and land owners that this illegal activity is on the rise to protect their interests and the environment.
“Individuals acting alone, or operating under a company name, are offering land owners money to store large quantities of controlled waste, claiming it is a temporary measure before the waste is treated on site or sent for recycling.
“The majority of the incidents to date show the waste is not suitable for treatment.”
The bales typically contain mixed partially shredded waste textiles including plastics and biodegradable materials. Landowners should be aware that the storage of baled waste is tightly regulated, and they need an environmental permit to do so legally.
This is to make sure the material is managed and stored correctly to avoid pollution and fire risk.
Mark added: “We want to warn farmers and land owners that this illegal activity is on the rise to protect their interests and the environment.
“While it might seem tempting proposition to make some extra cash on land you are not using, you could find yourself facing enforcement action or significant clean-up costs if the waste is abandoned by the criminals.
“Anyone approached to store controlled waste or any other material on their land should report it immediately so we can investigate further.”