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Survey reveals 1% of UK businesses admit to illicit waste disposal

A significant proportion of businesses avoid paying for commercial waste disposal and landfill tax by bribing waste collectors to treat their refuse as household waste, according to a new survey.

An anonymous survey by waste management firm of 4,500 companies revealed that just over 1% admitted to illegal practices with their waste disposal.

Commercial waste collections are charged unlike household collections so bribery of bin men was found to be commonplace.

The survey report stated: “A small but significant number of companies were negotiating deals at their ‘back doors’ in order to save substantial sums on their waste removal for as little as a few drinks down the pub.”

Mark Hall, commercial manager at, told MRW: “We’ve heard rumours of this for years.”

He said the two most common areas were plumbers, pubs and restaurants.

He added that many takeaways “are quite prolific” at spreading their waste in numerous bins down alleyways, taking it home, or dumping it.

He said WEEE is also a major area of illicit disposal.

He added: “It is either people absolutely oblivious to the fact that they have got to dispose of (WEEE) correctly, or they know it is expensive and they go down different routes.”

Hall said the Government is clamping down on illegal waste dumping with over 1,000 prosecutions last year, up 70% compared to last year. He added: “But still that’s just the tip of the iceberg – there’s a long way to go.”

He said believes the bribing issue is far more widespread than the survey suggests as some companies still won’t own up even in an anonymous survey.

Comments from some of the 50 companies who admitted illicit disposals included:

  • “We took commercial waste home and put it in our domestic bins”
  • “Paid bin man a tenner to remove loads of bulky waste”
  • “Would bump into our bin men down the pub. A round of drinks works wonders”

Hall said: “It all boiled down to money.”

He called for local authorities to “root out” both the companies who refuse to pay, and the refuse operators lining their own pockets.

An Environmental Services Association (ESA) spokesperson said: “Any business that creates waste has a duty of care to ensure that it is disposed of correctly and legally.

“Any form of avoidance of paying the correct price, or tax, to dispose of waste is a crime. In the tough financial climate businesses are trying to cut costs where possible, but failing to dispose of waste correctly has an impact on the environment and the economy as a whole, and is not something ESA or it members encourage people to do.”

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