The cost to the economy in England from landfill tax evasion, fly-tipping and other forms of waste crime is more than £600m, according to the Environmental Services Association (ESA).
The Rethinking Waste Crime report, written by the Eunomia consultancy for the ESA and the ESA Education Trust, estimated that fly-tipping had a £209m impact on England’s economy in 2015.
Misclassification of waste and fraud during the same period – mainly around landfill tax – had an estimated impact of £129m.
Other forms of crime examined included illegal waste sites, serious breaches of Environment Agency (EA) permits and exemptions, local authority and EA enforcement activity and illegal waste exports.
Illegal burning of waste was also found to have a £19m cost to the economy.
The report said that “weak regulation” was a major factor behind crime in the sector, and said not enough inspections were being carried out on waste carriers and sites operating under a registered exemption.
It called for reform of the waste carrier, broker and dealer registration process, and said that applicants should be subject to a competency test.
Other recommendations included making the eDoc electronic waste transfer note system mandatory, greater enforcement of duty of care regulations and banning repeat and serious offenders.
Jacob Hayler, ESA executive director, said: “Despite additional funding for regulators and stronger enforcement powers, waste crime is more entrenched than ever.
“Clearly, we need a different approach which targets the underlying causes of crime in our sector and which roots out the prevailing culture that allows waste crime to flourish.”
Mike Brown, Eunomia managing director, added: “Regulators have been under-resourced and encouraged to take a light-touch approach in order to be business friendly. Ironically, this is actually harming the interests of legitimate waste businesses while giving criminals an easy ride.”
The report is a follow up of 2014’s Britain’s Dirty Secret, which estimated that the cost to the whole UK economy from waste crime could be as much as £800m.
Brown spoke at the official launch of the report at Westminster and showed the meeting this photo.
”For a one off fee of £154 it took us five minutes to register online as a waste carrier. we chose to register my dog Oscar, a West highland terrier,” he said.
”Oscar died in 2006 but he does now hold a three-year certificate of registration as an upper tier waste carrier, broker and dealer. He enjoys it for the next three years. That’s how easy it is to be a waste carrier in 2017.”