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What is Waste Crime?

Waste crime can be committed in a number of ways, the most common of which are dumping waste in a place not designated or conducting a waste disposal business without being a registered waste carrier.

People often pretend to be ignorant of the law – but this is not an excuse. There are also those who knowingly break the law to either make financial gains or make their lives easier. This illegal activity is tackled through disruption, with illegal waste sites being closed down or being forced to bring their operations up to regulation.

The Environment Agency stopped almost 1,300 illegal operations between 2012 and 2013 and stopped illegal activities almost every 90 minutes. Thousands of pounds were taken back in fines and seized profits/property, but while this is positive news it still costs the taxpayer in the long run to clear up the mess and chase down the illegal activity. £17 million was spent in 2012-13 on tackling waste crime in England, though this is just a portion of the budget for the EA.

The dumping of waste, or the illegal burning of waste, causes numerous risks no matter where it occurs. When waste is burned incorrectly, or the wrong materials are burned, it can have a damaging effect on the environment around it. Toxic waste can harm the land and also pollute water sources nearby such as rivers and streams. The smoke and any polluting material can be left in the air, posing a health risk to health in surrounding areas – something which is unacceptable when there is legitimate waste disposal across the UK.

Poor judgement and organisation is putting communities and the environment at risk all the time, which is why the EA attempts to get the maximum fines and penalties for those caught acting illegally. The illegal business is impacting communities by taking money away from legitimate businesses that operate within the law.

Another offence which the EA are attempting to crack down on is the exporting of waste overseas. While some countries have designated services which can legitimately take waste from other countries there are those who do not have the facilities to deal with the waste. Only when recycling waste is it legal to export waste, otherwise you are breaking the law.

Fly-tipping is a contributing factor to waste crime but is dealt with more often on a smaller scale by local authorities, while metal theft has been on the rise in communities due to the price that can be gained for materials such as lead, zinc and copper.

There is a responsibility for all people to report waste crime, whether you have spotted a criminal activity taking place or you are a legitimate business finding illegal businesses operating nearby. Approaching criminals yourself is not advised, but making a note of any notable features of the vandals, as well as registration numbers on vehicles used, and reporting them to the authorities is the best thing to do.

For more information about legal and convenient waste disposal, contact the experts at Woodford Recycling today. We provide a wide range of waste management services, from disposing of hazardous waste to a number of skip hire options, and can provide you with advice as to the correct procedures to follow that don’t contravene existing regulations.

Get in touch today to find out more.


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