Local authorities have called on furniture and mattress manufacturers and retailers to contribute to the £50m annual bill for fly-tipping costs, and voluntarily to provide take-back services for people to hand in old products when they buy new ones.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, made the call in its submission to Defra regarding waste crime.
The LGA also wants its members to be able to recover all prosecution costs after they take fly-tippers to court, which amount to nearly £20m a year.
Councils dealt with 850,000 fly-tipping incidents in 2013-14, up 20% from the previous year. The LGA said the rise was due to people changing homes more frequently and the low prices of household consumer goods. Keep Britain Tidy believes that an increasing number of councils charging to remove bulky items has also contributed.
Mattresses are identified as a particular problem because they are difficult and expensive to recycle, meaning many end up in landfill sites.
LGA environment spokesman Peter Box said: “Fly-tipping is at a record level and, increasingly, the country’s loveliest beauty spots and villages are being scarred and disfigured.
“Mattresses and furniture are some of the most fly-tipped items. In these unprecedented circumstances it is only fair that the manufacturers do more to help. It is extremely difficult and costly to recycle mattresses, so most of them end up in landfill sites, which are already under severe pressure.”
A ‘massive dump’ of mattresses in Kent was reported on 5 June after the Environment Agency served the site owners with an enforcement notice.
Zero Waste Scotland has suggested that a producer responsibility scheme for mattress recycling could be introduced in Scotland.
- The special issue of MRW for RWM in September will have an in-depth feature on mattress recycling