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A Guide to Waste Crime & How to Combat it

It’s imperative that waste is collected and disposed of in an eco-friendly, responsible manner. Not only does this help to protect the environment, but it also keeps humans, wildlife and pets safe from harm. Whenever someone collects your waste products from you, they need to hand over a waste transfer note, but they also need to have a waste carriers licence. 

This is to ensure that your waste material is disposed of responsibly and doesn’t end up being fly-tipped in our idyllic countryside. If you’ve never heard of waste crime before, here’s everything you need to know about it, together with what you can do to combat these criminal offences.


What is waste crime?

Waste crime refers to the illegal disposal or illegal management of waste, whether it be household or commercial waste. Either a company, an individual or a group of people can be found guilty of waste crime offences. If found guilty, you could be fined significant amounts of money or even face a prison sentence in some extreme cases. Essentially, waste crime is the act of fly-tipping. 

Currently, fly-tipping seems to occur in rural, countryside areas where people are less likely to see them committing the offence. However, depending on what it is they’ve dumped, the police or even the local council, will be able to track down who committed the offence and bring them to justice. Although, more often than not, fly-tippers are going undetected, frustratingly, with the illegal dumping of waste becoming a far more prominent problem coming into 2023.


Why does waste crime matter?

Waste crime refers to the illegal dumping of waste materials. It’s important that the offence is taken seriously and that penalties and punishments are regularly enforced should such an event occur. This is because fly-tipping is detrimental to the survival of surrounding wildlife, whether it be animals or plants and flowers. It can also have a negative impact on the environment as well as passersby and, in some cases, their pets if they’re walking the dog, for instance. 

Waste crime matters for those aforementioned reasons, but it’s also imperative to help restore our countryside and make the surrounding landscapes picturesque and unhindered once again. Fly-tipped waste can make an area look unkempt, which can have an effect on the amount of tourism that takes place there or even, in some cases, house prices. 

It’s also important because, in some cases, hazardous waste has been dumped, which can have catastrophic consequences to people’s health as well as the wildlife and the environment. Hazardous waste is incredibly dangerous and so fly-tipping needs to come with a considerable prison sentence and hefty fines to deter people from doing it in the first place.


Waste crime in the media

Waste crime has become such a prevalent problem throughout the country recently that there are numerous cases of fly-tipping that have been reported by the media. John Craven, a television presenter for the much-loved Sunday night show, Countryfile, claimed that the amount of waste crime that occurs in rural areas has meant that “the countryside has reached a crisis point”. 

This is because the government hasn’t done enough to deter criminals from committing the offence in the first place, according to the chair of the Commons public accounts committee (PAC). The Guardian reported that the chair of the Commons PAC described waste crime as being “close to decriminalisation” and that “waste crime is not getting the local or national attention needed to effectively tackle it, despite it being on the rise and increasingly dominated by organised criminal gangs”.

When comparing waste crime figures from 2019/2020 and from 2020/2021, there were 1.13 million fly-tipping cases that occurred in 2020/2021, which is a 16% rise on the year before, according to Gov.uk. In 2021, an individual in Gloucestershire was fined £8,000 alone for committing waste crime offences, claims ITV News, which is a considerable financial penalty, but this doesn’t always follow through to other instances of waste crime.

Already this year, there was a case in Glasgow where a company director and one of their employees were sentenced for fly-tipping offences. According to the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service, the pair were fined just £750 and were ordered to pay the council £1,900 in compensation for clean-up services. This is a huge contrast to that of the other penalty that was ordered to be paid in the aforementioned incident, thus backing up the chair of the Commons PAC’s views that not enough is being done to deter fly-tippers.


Who is tackling waste crime?

Here at Willshee’s, we have dealt with numerous instances of waste crime and fly-tipping in the local area alone since the start of the year. It seems to be an offence that is on the rise. As already touched upon, the government is being blamed for almost allowing the illegal dumping of waste as the penalties and fines are not harsh enough to act as a deterrent. 

Unfortunately, there is no one organisation that works country-wide to pick up fly-tipped waste, so we must work together to keep our landscapes free of illegally-dumped rubbish. Most of the time, your local council will be able to come and collect fly-tipped waste. Alternatively, it could be reported to the police on a non-emergency number as it’s a criminal offence that carries fines and even prison sentences in severe cases. 

However, the organisation who will want to hear about waste crime instances would be the Environmental Agency. They implement notices and serve injunctions and bail conditions to offenders, when caught. It’s far more likely that someone will be punished for dumping waste illegally if the Environment Agency is involved because they work closely with operators to enforce the law. But you can do your bit as well, as a member of the general public.


What can you do to combat waste crime?

You might not think that waste crime involves you, especially if you’re not the one who is doing it. But there are actually quite a few things you can do to try and bring the number of fly-tipping cases down. A few of the things you can do, or not do, to combat waste crime as a member of the general public includes the following:

  • Being cautious when someone knocks on your door who is offering to take your waste away either for free or for a small fee
  • Make sure that the person who is coming to collect your waste has a waste carriers licence
  • Don’t undertake waste collection services from people who just appear on your doorstep
  • Do your research and book a waste management company to come on a specific time and date, provided they’re fully-licenced, such as us here at Willshee’s.
  • If you see someone fly-tipping waste or if you find piles of dumped rubbish, contact either your Local Authority or the Environment Agency, because these organisations rely on intelligence from eyewitnesses and tip-offs from the public to make a conviction more likely



    Willshee’s is a dedicated, fully-licensed waste carrier with years’ of industry knowledge and experience behind us. We have a team of fully-trained, specialist waste management experts who will always be on hand to provide you with the waste management services you need. Whether you’re a domestic or a commercial client, you can rest assured that we’ll collect and dispose of your waste materials in an eco-friendly, responsible manner every single time. To learn more about our skip hire or grab hire services, or to find out further information about our hazardous waste removal and more, get in touch with a member of our friendly, professional team today – we’re always pleased to hear from you.


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