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Thursday, 23 June 2016 11:53

Don't get caught by firms who flytip your waste!

We all like to think we're doing the responsible thing by paying a company to remove our waste, reports James Murray – but be it building, DIY or garden debris, household clutter or an overflow of household waste, the truth is, by engaging the services of an illegal waste removal company, householders can be enabling waste crime, as well as inadvertently causing significant harm to the environment.

flytip1Problem of illegitimate removal companies
Illegitimate waste removal companies engage in the illegal dumping of waste they pick up. They may appear to have full credentials and offer promises of appropriate waste disposal and even recycling of the unwanted items, but illegal companies simply fill up the van and instead of taking it to recycling or waste management centres, they are fly-tipping the removed goods. This action is not just illegal and causes an eye-sore, it also poses serious risks to humans and animals in the vicinity. In one example, black bags containing asbestos were dumped in a lay-by in Worcester.

The cost of the crime
Back in 2012, when waste crime began to rise significantly, it cost around £17 million a year to tackle the offenders, clean up fly-tipped areas and clamp down and clean up illegal dump sites (Source: Gov.UK). In 2015, it was estimated that waste crime costs the UK economy £568 million a year and additionally diverts approximately £1 billion from legitimate companies who would be supporting recycling and waste management targets set by local authorities by running licenced operations, paying tipping fees and complying with recycling and waste disposal guidelines (Source: Gov.UK).

A UK-wide problem
The growth of the problem as demonstrated by those national figures is also reflected at a local level, as local communities and councils find not just a growth in hot-spot fly-tipping, but a growth in illegal dump sites.

flytip4One such area is Dundee, which has been experiencing a significant problem due to a prevalence of cowboy waste removal companies, which mean dumped items include large white goods and bulky items such as beds, mattresses and furniture on a city-wide basis. In Dundee it's not just households looking to have bulky items removed who are falling foul, it's also householders having building or garden work done, with some disreputable trades companies using incorrect and illegitimate methods to dispose of building and garden debris following home improvement work. In response to the problem, the local council has warned Dundee residents that they must start to ensure they are using reputable firms or else run the risk of sharing liability with those illegitimate companies.

And this is just the tip of the ice-berg (or waste mountain) as many other areas also report similar problems, with the growth of the problem being blamed on:
• The economic climate as households cannot afford to pay local council bulky item collection charges.
• Unscrupulous individuals (and companies) who see this as an easy way to make fast cash in any area of the UK particularly as, when residents and councils become additionally vigilant in areas where there is a recognised problem (such as Dundee), these unscrupulous traders move to other areas to try their luck – and dump the waste.
• The impact of public spending cuts affecting street cleaning services, and the reporting of fly-tipping incidents.

fly tip2Illegitimate companies
Illegitimate companies come in many disguises, from individual man-and-van set ups, to small companies to larger businesses, all of whom may purport to be waste disposal experts. There are also unethical tradespeople who actually work in alternative trades, such as building, plumbing and gardening, who remove debris from their own jobs but do not dispose of it legally, via recycling centres or landfill where they would be obliged to pay tipping fees, but instead fly-tip the rubbish.

Getting it right
With more and more councils following Dundee's example and encouraging residents to check the credentials of any company they use, and even make them culpable for using an illegitimate waste company (with fines ranging from £200 penalties to more than £40,000) it's important to be able to spot legitimate companies. A legitimate company will always:
• Be registered with the environment agency.
• Have a waste carrier licence which can be verified online check on www.gov.uk/find-registered-waste-carrier.
• Provide a waste transfer note for removal of any waste (for example following building or garden work) upon request.
• Provide details of the site license where the waste is to be disposed. This may be the disposal companies own facility or a third party facility the waste is being transported to.
• Be able to provide proof of delivery in the form of an official weight ticket. This will state the disposal site's details along with the weight of the material disposed.

Households across the UK are also encouraged to use legitimate services as a way of deflecting the problem and plugging the 'gap' in the illegal waste disposal trade by using council services as well as those legitimate companies which are fully compliant with regulations and licensing. And those ethical companies are out there, companies such as Collect Your Old Bed who don't just ensure that old beds and mattresses are removed and disposed of responsibly, but also offer 100% recycling of all items collected, it's time to start using the right service and avoid keeping the wrong company!