Waste crime, and in particular illegal fly tipping, continues to be a major challenge for environmental services, councils, property owners and the waste management industry in the United Kingdom. Not only does it harm the environment and pose a significant and growing threat to public health and safety, but it also puts significant financial strain on impacted businesses, local authorities, estate and land owners.
The seriousness and sheer scale of the UK’s waste problem recently made headlines as an investigative podcast dug up tales of corruption and criminal gang activity that was behind the biggest illegal waste site anywhere in Europe or the UK.
The fly-tipping crisis in the UK has been growing in scale substantially over the past 5 years. Rising costs of waste disposal and a lack of resources to tackle illegal activity is fueling this waste epidemic. While fly-tipping can range from small amounts of household waste, it is the growing brazen scale of the large commercial quantities that are driving immense environmental and financial impact across the UK. The government puts fly-tipping at a cost to the public purse of around £392 million per year and it’s not showing signs of slowing.
But what are the factors that got us here?
While the waste industry might seem simple to understand, it’s a complex market with various forces pulling on the levers. Waste produced onsite is only a small part of the waste equation, it’s what happens from there where things can get murky if not properly managed.
Rising costs of waste:
Fuel costs, tipping fees and driver strikes overpay are sending the cost of waste disposal north. This widens the space where illegal waste contractors have an opportunity to enter the market.
The approach at GPT Waste is to fully analyse the waste streams of our clients. What’s being produced, how can it be reduced, when it does leave the site as waste, how should it be classified, hauled offsite and treated? These are the questions that often led to significant cost savings, not to mention mitigating the potential for illegal activity to create environmental disasters.
A broken waste hierarchy:
When there’s high demand for waste compatible with recycling and there’s a severe shortage of tonnage heading to the nation’s energy from waste (EfW) plants it seems like fly-tipping should be an issue of the past, not the present day.
The fact fly-tipping exists at such a massive commercial scale today while there is a growing demand for waste tonnage points to policy failure and lack of resources to enforce laws against shoddy operators. Insufficient penalties give rise to waste crime and make it a viable illegal trade. Unscrupulous waste operators significantly undercut the market, win the business and illegally dump the waste.
Tighter and stricter legislation along with enhanced tracing of waste from accredited waste suppliers could help tackle the problem.
GPT Waste works as a conduit between the waste producers (our clients) and the waste hauler. If your waste stream becomes traceable and trackable, it’s not destined for illegal dumping.
Data & transparency over waste movements:
Tracking and tracing waste not only gives vital data to firms producing waste about what they are creating, where it’s going and how much it’s costing, but it can eliminate the potential for your commercial waste to be implicated in an environmental disaster.
When waste is illegally dumped, investigators can trawl through the fly-tipped refuse to discover the waste’s origins. If your firm’s name comes up in an illegal dumping ground your firm could face lengthy periods of time proving your innocence. If your illegal waste hauler has all but disappeared it can be a tough situation to face. Not to mention how harmful PR can be ever so hard to shake.
GPT Waste provides transparency over your entire waste stream. Our waste assessments are designed to save you money, reduce the overall tonnage of waste produced where possible and eliminate potential liabilities once your waste leaves your site.
Confusion about waste types:
Waste disposal complexity is driving panic and confusion through the market. A recent example is updated guidance on the disposal methods of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). These POPs are usually found in soft furnishings and can have a devastating effect on the environment if disposed of incorrectly.
While waste haulers tend to charge more when confusion around waste types appears, GPT Waste focuses on simplification and clarity over waste types produced and the most efficient waste stream design for correct disposal.
The road ahead:
Moving forward, councils and local governments can take proactive steps to address this issue by implementing stricter waste management policies, encouraging investment in technology to track waste, and partnering with local authorities to increase enforcement. By doing so, they can not only reduce the financial burden of cleaning up illegal fly tips, but also demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and responsible waste management practices across the UK.
In conclusion, illegal fly-tipping is a serious problem in the UK that requires a concerted effort from the government and local authorities to address. By taking proactive measures to prevent waste crime at a government level the waste management industry can not only protect the environment and public health but also differentiate themselves as leaders in responsible waste management practices.
From the standpoint of GPT, we remain committed to cutting the complexity around commercial waste, driving lower costs, and protecting the environment for future generations.