Waste crime is an endemic issue across the UK.
Like much of the waste involved, waste crime itself is toxic. It threatens every community through its thuggish links to crime and its willingness to despoil the places where people live. It undermines investment, growth and jobs in the legitimate waste businesses which the Environmental Services Association represents. It costs our economy around a billion pounds a year. And it harms our planet, because it piles more damage on top of the destruction that pollution and the climate emergency is wreaking on ecosystems, wildlife, and our way of living.
One of the most unsettling things about waste crime is that nobody knows exactly its true scale. We do know that it is huge: our latest estimate is that some 18% of waste is currently managed illegally at some point in the waste stream. That is around 34 million tonnes of waste every year - enough to fill 13,500 Olympic swimming pools or Wembley stadium 30 times. So, it’s big.
And it’s getting bigger.
All the evidence suggests waste crime is on the rise. The ESA itself says so: the 2021 report said that the extent of waste crime had considerably worsened. The Environment Agency’s own 2021 National Waste Crime Survey concluded that waste crime in England was endemic. And we have good reason to believe that the Covid lockdowns, which made it harder for the EA and law enforcement to operate freely, contributed to a further increase in the last two years.
To tip the scales against the criminals the EA have needed to be tougher on waste crime, with better knowledge, more resources, tougher deterrents; and tough on the causes of waste crime, with smarter policies that keep one step ahead of criminals, shut them out of the system and move us towards an economy in which there is no space for waste crime.
Green Tractor is helping to combat waste crime in two ways.
Firstly, by farmers choosing to recycle with us over a non-Green Tractor member will indemnify them from any potential waste crime as all Green Tractor collectors are audited to ensure they are held accountable to all legal standards. Further, it is the intention of our scheme to eventually carry the recognition from the EA of these standards and subsequently being able to concentrate on catching the waste criminals in the knowledge Green Tractor is doing everything right. Through using a Green Tractor collector, you ensure your waste is handled the right way.