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A waste sector campaign against modern-day slavery

MRW is launching a campaign to raise awareness of how forced labour and modern-day slavery can hit unwary businesses in the UK waste management and recycling sector.

Corin Williams, MRW editor, writes: ‘Root it out’ has been set up to help our industry identify the problem, aid victims of trafficking and ensure best practice is shared across the whole sector, from smaller regional businesses to national players. 

In the past three years, MRW has gathered much information and published articles by experts who have played a key role in tackling international human trafficking gangs. We now know that around two-thirds of victims of human trafficking are placed in a recycling facility at some point during their ordeal.

We are working in conjunction with the Environmental Services Association (ESA) and the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), and will be setting up a series of objectives during the next few months to which we will ask those within the sector to sign up to.

From an initial session at RWM (see below), we will be working with the sector to set up a series of events and round tables in order to develop best practice for waste companies of any size to recognise the signs, train staff and react to incidences of forced labour.

MRW urges everyone in the sector to sit up and take notice.

Read how recruitment agency Smart Solutions co-operated with police and other agencies to prevent gangs placing forced labourers at waste sites

Jacob Hayler, ESA chief executive

“We know that our sector has been targeted by criminals seeking to infiltrate operational facilities, so we must all be vigilant to ensure that we know how to spot the signs and to rescue victims from this absolute scourge on our society.

The ESA’s members are committed to ensuring that all acts of modern slavery are stamped out from our sector. That is why we fully support this important campaign and are taking action to include robust anti-slavery policies as a precondition for ESA membership.”

Sarah Poulter, CIWM chief executive

“Modern slavery has no place in a professional resources and waste sector.

“The CIWM is pleased to support the ‘Root it out’ campaign, and is committed to exploring how it can help, encourage and empower its members and the wider sector to ensure that there is no opportunity for this unacceptable exploitation to occur.”


Panel session at RWM 2019

MRW is leading a panel session, in conjunction with the ESA and CIWM, at RWM at the NEC to launch the ‘Root it out’ campaign.

It will be held on 12 September at 12.30-13.45 in the Innovation Theatre 4. Speakers from Smart Solutions, Biffa and the Slave Free Alliance will give presentations.

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