New figures show that the Environment Agency prosecuted 454 waste cases last year which resulted in fines totalling £3 million and prison sentences.
The EAs crackdown on waste crime from fly-tipping to the illegal export of waste has led to an increase in the severity of penalties handed down by the courts. This week the EA secured its largest ever fine - £262,268 after the soft drinks firm Red Bull failed to meet its requirements to recover and recycle packaging waste (see MRW story).
In the last twelve months the EA has created a new National Environmental Crime Team made up of around 20 former detectives, intelligence officers and forensics experts.
The team was set up to target organised waste crime, and they are specialists in recovering the proceeds of crime.
EA head of waste and resource management Liz Parkes said: This is not about people putting rubbish in the wrong bins we concentrate on those individuals and companies whose illegal activities have the potential to cause serious damage to the environment.
The rules on how to handle, transport and dispose of waste are in place to protect the environment and peoples health, in this country and abroad. The EA takes swift and decisive action against anyone who flouts these strict controls. The increase in the level of fines reflects how seriously the EA and the courts are taking waste offences.