The Government has launched a review into the extent of serious and organised crime in the waste sector and how to combat it.
It will run until September, and is seeking information on the extent and nature of crimes being committed and the characteristics of organised crime groups involved.
Respondents to a Defra online survey will be asked for examples of the environmental, community and economic effects of waste crime and of responses that have worked or failed.
They will also be asked for views on the effectiveness of the Environment Agency (EA), police, National Crime Agency and local government responses and suggestions for improvements.
The review, which covers England, will be led by Defra non-executive director Lizzie Noel.
Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “Organised criminals running illegal waste dumps and fly-tipping are blighting local communities. They cost our economy vast amounts of money, pollute our environment and harm our wildlife.
“We must crack down on these criminals, who have no regard for the impact they have on peoples’ lives. The time is right for us to look at how we can best tackle these antisocial and inexcusable crimes.”
The review’s terms of reference said it would emphasise “organised criminal involvement in waste crime, characteristics of criminal enterprises, intelligence gathering and enforcement effectiveness.
“It will consider fly-tipping and smaller waste crime incidents only in connection to the review’s understanding of organised criminality.”
Defra said waste crime cost the economy more than £600m in 2015. More than 850 illegal waste sites were discovered by the EA during 2016-17, while an average of two a day were shut down.
Environmental Services Association head of regulation Sam Corp said: “The review rightly highlights the importance of effective intelligence and information sharing, and the importance of collaboration to tackle the threat of waste crime.
“We welcome this focus as we are already working closely with the Environment Agency on improving the flow of information relating to suspect waste criminal activities and under the remit of the Environment Agency/ ESA accord agreed last year.”