More use should be made of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) to prevent environmental crime, the Environment Agency (EA) has said.
In its annual Spotlight report on the environmental performance of businesses in England and Wales, the EA said that criminals are exploiting the public and profiting illegally from dumping and other damaging activities.
An ASBO was awarded for environmental crime for the first time in 2004 to prevent the owner of a plant and skip hire business from repeatedly burning skips full of rubbish instead of disposing of the waste illegally.
"The public damage to reputation of a jail sentence, a community service order or an ASBO may also act as a more effective deterrent than a fine that represents little more than back-pocket cash to many of these environmental profiteers."
Financial penalties, however, were still the most widely used sanction last year in the courts. Fines issued as a result of EA action totalled almost £2.5 million.
But environmental offenders also clocked up three years' worth of jail sentences and nearly 7,000 hours of community service in total.
And 20 company directors were charged for environmental crimes.
Household names were also listed in the report for having been prosecuted. These included Pizza Express (£75k), Gatwick Airport (£30k) and Barratt Homes (£15k).
The report also highlights that business and industry are now recovering more than half of the amount of waste they produce - the highest level since records began in 1998.
It also discovered that hazardous waste recovery is at its highest recorded level at 37%.
But the EA estimated that there were 100,000 incidents of fly-tipping involving waste from businesses and at least 30,000 incidences were from businesses doing the dumping.