Members of the public have been urged by the Environment Agency (EA) to take more care when disposing of their waste as it revealed that more than a third of illegally dumped waste is from households.
The regulator is urging householders to avoid illegal waste operators and take extra care when getting rid of waste.
Defra has also launched a consultation on proposals for penalties for householders breaching their duty of care.
Householders could be liable for landfill tax or prosecuted if they have knowingly been involved in illegal waste dumping, under a recent change in the law, the EA said.
Unlicensed waste operators target householders through local advertising and social media, offering cheap rates to dispose of unwanted furniture, building rubble or garden waste.
The agency is advising householders to check that anyone they use to take away waste is a registered waste carrier, to get a written receipt/transfer note with full details, and note the registration number and details of the vehicle taking the waste away.
More than 850 new illegal waste sites were discovered by the EA in 2016-17. An average of two illegal sites are shut down every day, but dumping is estimated to cost the UK economy £600m a year, creating problems for local communities and businesses, especially in rural areas.
“We must all come together to win the fight against waste criminals,” an EA spokesperson said. “We’re doing our part with enforcement action and prosecution, whenever necessary. But we cannot do this alone.
”Households also have a responsibility to ensure their waste is collected by a responsible operator who will not pollute the environment with waste or cost thousands to clear up and make safe.”
Defra’s consultation focuses on the introduction of a new fixed penalty notice for household duty of care offences related to fly-tipping. It has also published a summary of responses to a consultation earlier this year on proposals to tackle crime and poor performance of the waste sector, and the introduction of a fixed penalty notice.
The consultation is seeking views on updated guidance for householders on meeting their duty of care, as well as views on new guidance for local authorities on issuing fixed penalty notices for household waste duty of care offences, should they be introduced.
The consultation closes on 28 August.