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Report shows waste crime in the UK now costs close to £1 billion a year

A new report carried out by consultancy Eunomia, and commissioned by the Environmental Services Association (ESA) shows that the cost of waste crime in England to the legitimate waste industry and the taxpayer has increased to £924m.


Report shows waste crime in the UK now costs close to £1 billion a year f

According to the report, Counting the Cost of UK Waste Crime, it shows that the total cost of waste crime in England has increased by 53% from £604 million in 2015.

The two most costly forms of waste crime to England’s economy are fly-tipping, which now exceeds £392 million (rising from £209 million in 2015) and the operation of illegal waste sites, which account for an estimated £236 million (up £98 million since 2015).

Report shows waste crime in the UK now costs close to £1 billion a year p

The report makes a series of recommendations to address the issue of waste crime:

  • Tighten the entry requirements for waste carriers, brokers and dealers to prevent criminals from accessing the sector;
  • Bolster duty of care enforcement to stop criminals from being able to access, store or process waste illegally;
  • Increase Environment Agency and Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) funding in the longer term – the Environment Agency’s current waste crime enforcement budget is just 3% of the total cost of dealing with consequences of waste crime
  • Introduce new waste crime reporting to better record and track the scale and impact of waste crime across the country.

Sam Taylor, Principal Consultant at Eunomia, said: 

“Waste crime is a blight on our neighbourhoods and environment.

Our research has shown a worrying trend in increasing costs of waste crime when the Government is working hard to promote resource efficiency and move towards a more circular economy in England.

It’s absolutely vital that waste crime is monitored accurately and the waste sector is supported by a robust regulatory regime.”

Gavin Graveson, chair of the ESA, said: 

“Waste criminals are exploiting a lack of public awareness and lack of regulatory oversight in this area, which has led to an increase in fly-tipping and illegal waste sites that contribute significantly to the overall £924 million cost of waste crime in England identified in our report today.

Successive ESA reports over the past eight years have highlighted the shocking extent of waste crime in the UK and its cost to both the environment and economy. This latest report exposes the unfortunate truth that, despite additional regulatory focus in recent years, the scale of waste crime has significantly worsened.

Although understandably delayed by the pandemic, it is now vital that the Government proceeds at pace with long-promised reforms of the regulatory regime and we must make it much harder for criminals to operate in the recycling and waste sector.”

Download the report here.


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