CIWM and ESA unite to tackle modern slavery across waste sector

The Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM) and the Environmental Services Association (ESA) have today announced a joint commitment to tackle modern slavery, forced labour and human trafficking across the waste sector.

By working together, the two trade bodies will leverage their combined membership, which reaches across the UK’s major waste and recycling operators, to reduce the risk of unethical work practices.

Jacob Hayler and Sarah PoulterThis will be achieved by raising awareness and understanding of the issue of modern slavery, setting out clear codes of practice and sharing intelligence, guidance and best practice.

Both parties will also work collaboratively to tackle the problem alongside other charities and sector bodies.

In 2018, just under 7,000 people were formally identified as being potential victims of modern slavery in the UK, which was up 300 per cent from 2013.

The situation, however, is likely to be far more severe, with The Global Slavery Index estimating that the real figure is closer to around 136,000.

The waste and recycling sector maintains over 120,000 jobs, accounting for 0.3 per cent of the total UK workforce.

Despite operating in a highly regulated environment, with increasingly robust employment policies, the industry does embody a number of characteristics which have the potential to be exploited by criminal activity.

These include high levels of sub-contracting and the employment of low-skilled temporary workers, who often originate from outside of the UK.

Sarah Poulter, CEO of CIWM, commented: “Issues as complex as modern slavery can only be addressed through meaningful collaborative and cross-sector working.”

“The UK waste and recycling sector has developed some of the most robust employment practices found anywhere in the UK but there is always more that we can do.”

“Both CIWM and ESA have been committed to addressing this issue for some time now and a crucial first step was to recognise that we work in an industry where this can be a problem and to promote honest and open dialogue.”

“We look forward to working with ESA and our members to implement effective working practices that will protect both the people and businesses delivering this vital service.”  

Executive Director of the ESA, Jacob Hayler, said: “Modern slavery is a horrific crime which can devastate lives and families and we know that the recycling and waste sector has been previously targeted by criminals.

“The ESA has set clear standards for its members, to help drive any criminal activity out of our sector, and these are enshrined within our code of conduct.”

“In recognition that this affects whole sector, and will require collaborative action to address, we are pleased to partner with CIWM to make this joint commitment today – working together to reinforce standards and compliance; to raise awareness and develop best practice; to share intelligence and to support our combined members develop proactive anti-slavery strategies.”