Rogue waste crime operators could be slapped with new fines if they mislabel their waste to dodge tax rules, an independent review ordered by Environment Secretary Michael Gove has recommended.
The review also concluded that compulsory electronic tracking of waste could help clamp-down on illegal movements of waste at home and abroad, and that there should be financial penalties for producers if their waste is found to be deposited illegally.
The recommendations come from a major independent review ordered in June. It looked at the government’s approach to tackling waste crime, which cost the English economy more than £600m in 2015. The recommendations of the review will now be considered and responded to in Defra’s forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy.
The review found that the government should give the criminals responsible greater cause to fear the consequences of their actions.
Welcoming the findings, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: ‘The threat to society from waste crime is real. Criminals are running illegal waste sites as a cover for theft, human trafficking, drug running and money laundering.
‘It is costing our economy millions of pounds each year, and blighting our communities.
‘I welcome today’s review. We are committed to clamping down on these unscrupulous groups and we will set out our next steps in our forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy.’
Other recommendations include setting up Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) led by the Environment Agency with the Police, Crime Commissioners, HMRC and waste industry representatives working together to tackle the most serious cases; and a national database of registered waste brokers to make it harder for unscrupulous operators to do businesses.
Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, said: ‘I welcome this review. Serious waste crime is the new narcotics – it damages the environment and harms local communities.
‘The review rightly recognises the dedication of Environment Agency officers who work tirelessly to bring the criminals to justice. In the last year, the Environment Agency has closed down over 800 illegal waste sites and brought almost 100 successful waste crime prosecutions.
‘But there is still more to be done. This report represents an opportunity to ensure we have the right powers, resources and coordination to win this fight.’