Waste is being disguised as hay bales and fly-tipped on farms, police have warned.
Evidence of this scam has been found in Essex, where three men have been arrested. Police found about 1,500 tons of waste after a search of farm land in Thurrock.
Environment Agency investigators believe criminals are making huge sums of money by charging to remove waste but then dumping it at remote rural locations.
The scam works by crooks compacting rubbish plastic wrappings holding about half a tonne of material, which are them assembled in fields to resemble haystacks (pictured).
EA environmental crime team leader Lesley Robertson said: “The discovery of around 3,000 bales of rubbish in Essex is believed to be linked to a highly-organised criminal scam involving the disposal of household and business waste.
“We are concerned that more bales may have been dumped elsewhere. This is a form of fly-tipping but on a massive and organised scale.”
She said the waste dumped in Thurrock included household and business rubbish of all kinds “dumped and abandoned with total disregard for the environment, landowners and the public”.
The development director of Sita UK, Stuart Hayward-Higham tweeted:
Essex 3000 bales ‘stored’ on farm,by my calcs producerscould have made nearly £200k of undeserved profit bit.ly/17AYf07
— S Hayward-Higham (@stuhhigh_SITA) April 15, 2013
Three men, aged 19, 23 and 47, all from east London, were arrested on suspicion of depositing and storing waste on an unpermitted site when police and the EA searched the land off Arterial Road, Purfleet on 10 April.
They were interviewed at Grays police station and bailed until 10 July by EA officers pending further enquiries.