The effects of fly-tipping
Almost one million instances of fly-tipping were reported across England during 2017-18, which does happen to be the first fall in five years- but it’s still an incredibly wide spread issue. In attempts to avoid landfill taxes, some companies will illegally dump their waste in natural areas such as lakes. The repercussions for this range from being slapped with fines to pay for cleaning up the mess, to temporary closure of your business depending on severity.
What is fly-tipping?
Fly-tipping is the illegal disposal of waste. This doesn’t have to be a certain type of waste, with the most common being household waste in bin bags- but some high-profile cases have even involved companies dumping hazardous waste like oil and asbestos. The types of land most prone to fly-tipping include private lands, back alleys and roadsides.
Fly-Tipping in 2018
Looking back at last year, we have statistics released by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) showing some important statistics of the year, and comparing 2017 and 2018 as a whole.
- From 2017-2018 there was a drop of 1% in fly-tipping in England
- Highways remain the most common place to fly-tip, at 47% of all reported incidences
- In 2017/18, 34,000 (4%) of the incidents were of ‘tipper lorry load’ size or larger
- Fixed penalty notices increased by 20% from 2016/17- and 91% up from 2015/16
The effects for businesses and land owners
The National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group has advised that the Environment Agency should investigate incidences of large scale, organised or hazardous waste of over 75L being dumped on privately owned land. This is, however, slow moving, and in the meantime, victims of fly-tipping have to find a way to legally dispose of any waste they discover on their premises.
The cost of this can be tremendous, with the CLA, an organisation of landowners in England and Wales, estimating the cost of waste being illegally disposed on private property is around £100-150 million per year.
Private property, as explained before, can be a common place for fly-tippers to illegally dump waste, with the CLA revealing that two-thirds of the organisation are targeted each year and some targeted even several times a month.
This unplanned waste can have a huge effect on business, with it being revealed last year by Biffa that SME’s in the Midlands could lose 96 working hours each year from having to dispose of this waste, a 12 hour increase from their previous survey of unplanned waste in 2016. Quite often, they have to abandon their plans to deal with this waste.
Fly-tipping isn’t only financially damaging to those who have to dispose of it, but also to legitimate waste disposal businesses that take a loss in profit from these cheap alternatives. It’s also a danger to the health of both the public and wildlife, due to lakes being polluted and increasing the likelihood of disease.
What is waste crime?
Waste crime includes fly-tipping, illegal dumping or the burning of waste, as well as intentionally mislabelling waste, operating unauthorised sites for waste management and exporting waste illegally.
Approximately £600 million was spent on combating waste activity in England alone during 2015. Waste crime has since risen, according to independent studies into crime in the sector.
In most cases, criminals operating in the waste sector will take waste and dump them on private property such as farmland or industrial sites. Doing so takes away the costs most businesses would be required to pay, such as landfill taxes or waste permits.
Landlord owners are also at risk of more insidious crimes against their company. Some criminals may pose as hopeful tenants looking to rent in order to learn the layout of the area, then store waste on the premises at a later date.
When their waste dumping operation ends, the owners will then have the burden of disposing of this waste and the costs behind doing so, such as fines and custodial sentences for operating without a permit.
Waste crime now diverts up to £1 billion per year from official businesses and the national treasury according to the Environmental Agency. They also noted the 4 most popular types of land for waste crime to occur on and their percentages:
- Farms (34%)
- Industrial sites (24%)
- Abandoned factories (10%)
- Derelict sites (7%)
Landowners have been advised by the Environmental Agency to keep a closer eye on activities in and around their premises, reporting any changes or new tenants to the organisation and to not accept bribes by people wanting to temporarily store waste. Is your business one that seems like it could become a victim of fly-tipping? If so, be sure to report anything that happens to you to the local authorities whether your land is private or not. 33% of fly-tipping incidences amount to that of a small van load and a licensed waste carrier or operator can help dispose of your problem.
If you need waste disposing, be sure to sort and store the waste safely and securely. Be sure to complete a waste transfer note each time a load of waste leaves your land and ensure the person carrying the waste is registered to dispose of it.
Keep your eyes open to the signs, and you’ll be sure not to fall for the tricks of waste criminals.
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