New plans unveiled for digital waste tracking

Environment Minister Jo Churchill has set out two proposals to clamp down on waste crime and support people and businesses to manage waste correctly.

The reform of waste industry will see increased background checks for firms who move or trade waste, as well as making it easier for regulators across the UK take action against rogue operators. With waste often handled by intermediaries who conceal their identities to commit serious and organised waste crime, the increased checks will ensure waste is managed by authorised persons only and in a safe manner, making it harder for unregistered operators to find work in the sector.

New plans will also see the introduction of mandatory digital waste tracking, using powers in the landmark Environment Act to overhaul existing waste record keeping. This means those handling waste will record information from the point waste is produced to the stage it is disposed of, recycled and reused. This will enable regulators to better detect illegal activity and tackle waste crime, including fly-tipping, illegal waste sites, and illegal waste exports.

In 2018/19, waste crime cost the English economy around £924 million. Local authorities dealt with nearly 1.13 million fly-tipping incidents this year alone.

Churchill said: “Waste criminals show complete disregard for our communities, the environment and the taxpayer. We have disrupted these rogue operators by giving extra powers to the Environment Agency, with nearly 1,000 illegal waste sites now being shut down each year, while our new Joint Unit for Waste Crime is successfully disrupting criminal gangs, for example, prosecuting fly tippers illegally dumping hundreds of tonnes of hazardous waste across the countryside.

“But there is more to do. Reforming the licensing system will clamp down on abuse of the system and new mandatory digital waste tracking will greatly improve transparency in the sector and make it easier for householders to check that their waste is being disposed of legally. Together, these reforms will stop criminals abusing the waste system and make it easier to prosecute offenders successfully.”

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