Minister focused on tackling waste crime

Resources Minister, Dan Rogerson has announced an extra £5 million (m) in funding to cut waste crime, which is estimated to cost the UK up to £800m each year.

Giving the keynote address at the Chartered Institute of Waste Management (CIWM) and Environmental Services Association (ESA) conference yesterday (18 June), Rogerson emphasised the government’s commitment to tackling waste crime to reduce the impact on both communities and the legitimate waste industry.

He said:  “[It is important to] deliver a fairer system through effective enforcement by tackling waste crime. Tackling waste crime matters to local communities through the hazards to health, pollution and nuisance. It matters to legitimate business that risk being undercut by that illegal activity.

“It’s estimated that waste crime costs this country from £300m to £800m a year, and this figure could be higher if we count the true cost, including tax evasion. Coming down hard on waste crime and waste criminals is a priority for the Government and for the Environment Agency.

“I will continue to work to ensure the regulations are implemented in a proportionate way, but we want to see more robust and timely action against those that deliberately flout the rules and undermine the legitimate waste management industry. “

Alongside the extra funding for enforcement, Rogerson said measures would include new sentencing guidelines. He added that the Government and the EA are currently preparing a statement regarding further actions that will be taken to tackle illegal waste activities.

Responding to the speech, ESA Director General, Barry Dennis, commented: “We are particularly encouraged to hear that waste crime continues to be a government priority and welcome the Minister’s commitment to further action in this area. ESA has already supported the recent ESAET waste crime report that has highlighted the true impact and cost to the UK economy, and we look forward to working with Defra and the Environment Agency on moving this agenda forward.” 

Conference debates

The opening conference panel raised a further range of issues including the role of the EU in the future management of waste and resource, the validity of reconsidering a ‘pay as you throw’ scheme as a means to encourage recycling and the importance of behavioural change.

The panel of MPs - including Laura Sandys, Roger Williams, Joan Walley and Jonathon Essex from the Green Party - was chaired by leading environmentalist Tony Juniper.

Summing up the opening panel debate, Tony Juniper stated that the UK is ‘not yet where it needs to be’ in terms of resource use and waste management.  This has been made clear in light of the higher targets that are being proposed by the European Commission.

Juniper added that the UK needs ‘a clear roadmap, the right tools and integrated policies, and clear messages in the 2015 party manifestos’, according to CIWM’s statement.

Issues that are being addressed during the conference include: planning and future policy beyond 2015; the challenge of increasing higher quality recycling; and the method to deliver the right services and infrastructure for the future