ESA collaborating with Environment Agency to focus resources on waste crime

The Environment Agency has partnered with the Environmental Services Association (ESA) to take steps to raise standards of operation within the sector and fight waste crime.

Over £600 million is lost every year by the waste industry and taxpayer due to businesses flouting regulations and disposing or storing waste illegally, according to the ESA, which represents the UK’s resource and waste management industry.

ESA collaborating with Environment Agency to focus resources on waste crime Now, the organisation says that it approached the Environment Agency to pursue a collaborative approach to improving the sector’s environmental performance.

Following ‘high-level’ talks between the Agency’s senior management and the CEOs of a number of resource and waste management companies, the organisation today (31 July) announced that an agreement had been reached that will see the regulator adopt priorities that target environmental risk within the sector.

Actions agreed upon by the partnership will see resources of the organisations pooled and best-practice operators assisting on key challenges like waste fires, and the Environment Agency focusing resources on poor performing sites and waste criminals through a sector-led system of earned recognition.

“At a time when waste crime seems more entrenched than ever, it is vital that the regulator is able to trust ESA Members to do the right thing and focus its resources on criminals and poor performing operators,” said Dr Stewart Davies, ESA Chairman.

“The industry is an excellent source of technical expertise that will be made available to help the Agency deliver its objectives. This is a fine example of regulatory best practice which can be an example to other sectors.”

The ESA says that by leveraging the efforts of companies working hard to protect the environment and using the industry’s technical expertise to assist the development of regulation, the Environment Agency will be able to focus its resourcing where they will have the biggest impact.

A number of specific proposals will now be worked on jointly to target improvements in four priority areas:

  • The need to refresh the EA’s approach to regulation by sharing key challenges, e.g. waste fires, and agreeing how best to tackle them using the combined resources of the EA and the best performing operators.
  • A system of earned recognition in the sector enabling the EA to focus resources on the poorest performing sites and waste criminals who ignore their obligations and pollute the environment and harm local communities.
  • Sharing intelligence and taking tough action against those who pass their waste on to illegal operators failing to deliver their Duty of Care. Waste crime often occurs at the end of a supply chain where there have been failures in Duty of Care by those at the beginning.
  • Improving technical competence in the waste sector – working with government to ensure that waste is only handled by suitably trained personnel at sites operated by companies with sufficient financial reserves to meet their obligations.

Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, added: “I’m extremely pleased to be strengthening our relationship with the ESA to raise standards across the sector and fight waste crime.

“We want to work with responsible operators to deliver more targeted regulations but also focus our resources on hitting the worst offenders which is good news for legitimate businesses, the economy and local communities. In addition, a more proactive approach to duty of care will plug weaknesses in the supply chain and prevent waste from leaking into the hands of criminals.”

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