Biffa launches app to identify fly-tipping

Waste management company Biffa has launched an app to record incidents of fly-tipping and operate a clearance service during the Covid-19 lockdown.

An image of fly-tipping

Retailers, private landowners and estate managers will now be able to report incidents of fly-tipping and their exact GPS location on the mobile application. Biffa will then operate a clearance service to remove the material (typically within 24 hours) and process it an environmentally responsible way.

The move by Biffa is in response to the increase in illegal dumping during the pandemic.
The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) survey for the week commencing 20 April reports that 58 per cent of councils have seen a greater than usual tonnages of collected fly-tipped waste in their localities; the Countryside Alliance claims there has been a 300 per cent rise in incidents in some areas.

The increase in fly-tipping, which is punishable by a fine of up to £50,000 or up to five years in prison, could be attributed to residents producing more waste whilst staying at home and the closure of many Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) – 98 per cent of HWRCs still remain closed of the 250 local authorities surveyed by ADEPT.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (28 April) Robert Jenrick, the Local Government Secretary, said that he would be asking councils to gradually reopen their HWRCs in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has declared fly-tipping clearance a high priority service during the coronavirus crisis as a build up of waste poses public health concerns.

Commenting on the app tackling fly-tipping during lockdown, George Pearce, Commercial Development Manager at Biffa, commented: “It’s unfortunate to see that the current crisis is serving to exacerbate the already significant and growing problem of fly tipping. It is a crime that damages our health, the environment and businesses in what is already an extremely challenging time. I hope our new initiative to help tackle fly-tipping will provide some relief.

“I would also take this opportunity to warn individuals and businesses against the risk of employing unregistered waste removal services, which have become more prolific since the lockdown began. These services are illegal, can be part of organised crime groups and are often the perpetrators of fly-tipping.”

Responding to Biffa’s decision to launch the app, Sarah Lee, Head of Policy at the Countryside Alliance, added: “The images of fly-tipping, though horrendous, are an all too familiar sight and an issue the Countryside Alliance has long campaigned on which is why we welcome this initiative by Biffa to tackle the increase in fly-tipping at these uncertain times.

“It shouldn’t need saying that driving to dump rubbish in your town at the side of the road or in the countryside is not essential travel. Not only are you committing an offence by littering, but you are also ignoring guidance that has been introduced to stop the spread of this dangerous virus.

“Please remember that fly-tipping is not a victimless crime and has a significant impact on our rural areas and wildlife.”