What Is Waste Crime and How Can We Tackle It?

As waste generation continues to rise year after year, so does waste crime. In this article, the Brown Recycling team is going to be covering exactly what waste crime is and how we can try to tackle it.

What Is Waste Crime and How Can We Tackle It?


What is waste crime?

We can understand waste crime as the disposal, incineration or management of waste without legal consent. It can range from smaller standalone instances of fly tipping – or even littering – to large-scale, organised waste dumps by criminals disguised as waste management companies.

Illegal waste disposal sites are by far the most damaging of all forms of waste crime, as they pose a serious risk to the environment as well as public health. Illegal waste dumps pollute rivers, agricultural land and the air that we breathe on a daily basis, so the negative impact cannot be overstated. Of course, waste crime also brings with it all of the other things that threaten our society, such as violence, intimidation, theft and damage to the economy. In fact, according to the UK waste minister, waste crime costs our country around £1 billion a year.


Why has waste crime been on the rise?

One of the main reasons why waste crime has been on the rise over the past decade or so is that it’s a tempting value proposition for would-be criminals. Here are some of the reasons why criminals turn to waste crime:

  • There’s a lot of money to be made (perhaps even more than drug dealing)
  • The chances of getting caught are relatively low compared to other types of crime
  • Again, compared to other forms of crime, the penalties associated with waste crimes have always been relatively light

Another reason, of course, is that we keep generating more waste. The more waste we create, the more people there are who need to dispose of it, which opens up opportunities for criminals to carry out illegal waste disposal operations.


What can we do to tackle waste crime?

In the past, the main issues associated with tackling waste crime lay in the final two bullet points listed above. Namely, criminals were getting away with it too easily and when they were caught, the punishments weren’t severe enough.

The government’s new approach to tackling waste crime aims to focus on these issues primarily, making it much harder for criminals to get away with their crimes, and punishing them appropriately when they fail to do so.

Here are some of the different tactics the police are now employing to tackle waste crime:

  • Focusing on the criminals first, as opposed to simply dealing with the environmental damage they leave in their wake; essentially, focusing on the root cause and not just the symptoms.
  • Using an intelligence-led approach that focuses on the biggest criminals doing the most harm on a national level.
  • Utilising new technology, including drone surveillance techniques, as well as heat-sensitive cameras to see inside shipping containers and warehouses.


What can I do as an individual?

While we would never recommend trying to step in and stop organised waste crime yourself, you can certainly report any and all instances of it that you see. While this contribution might seem insignificant, it all adds up and is hugely valuable in the long run.


Brown Recycling is a leading waste management company in Stoke-on-Trent. Whether you’re simply looking for a skip or you’re a business owner needing regular waste collections, we have the skills and expertise to get you sorted. Give us a call today for more information.


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