Waste crime is a serious issue diverting as much as £1bn per annum from legitimate business and treasury. But waste criminals don’t care about the impacts their activities are having on other people and the environment.
They also don’t care if their activities pull someone else onto the wrong side of the law, and that’s where hauliers need to be careful. Waste criminals will often use hauliers to transport waste for them, meaning the haulier has also broken the law.
When hauliers are convicted of an offence under the Duty of Care regulations it can have a devastating impact, not just financially and reputationally, but it can also lead to them losing their Vehicle Operator Licence or having their trucks seized.
We need to do everything we can to stop waste crime. My team work really hard to do this and try lots of different techniques to succeed. Increasingly this involves trying to stop the waste ending up in the hands of the criminals in the first place, as well as taking action against them when it does.
Given how big a problem waste crime is, it isn’t just the Environment Agency that need to see waste criminals stopped. We spend a lot of our time working with partner agencies such as local authorities, DVSA and the Traffic Commissioners combining our efforts to understand illegal activity and stop it.
If you see or suspect illegal waste activities are happening, report it anonymously through Crimestoppers online or by calling 0800 80 70 60
You may have seen some of my team with our partners at the side of the road close to an illegal waste site, stopping trucks carrying waste to make sure the waste and where it’s going are legal.
We’re also in the process of putting an agreement in place to share information on illegal waste activities with the Traffic Commissioners so that they can take it into consideration when issuing or revoking licences.
I’m really keen that we help hauliers understand what is happening so they don’t inadvertently become a waste criminal themselves. They can not only avoid getting caught up in criminal activity but also help us to tackle waste crime.
Firstly, hauliers should always make sure they are given a Waste Transfer Note from the person they collect the waste from.
Secondly, hauliers should always check they are delivering waste to a legal site who are allowed to accept the waste they are carrying – this can be checked easily online.
Hauliers really are in a unique position. They can choose to support waste criminals and become one themselves, or they can choose to support the fight against waste crime.
Knowing the tough stance my team take on waste criminals I personally don’t think it is worth the risk and would urge any haulier to protect themselves and others by checking their load and where it’s going.
Nicky Lawton is national enforcement service deputy director at the Environment Agency