Review calls for new fines for waste crime operators 

Waste site

A new independent review ordered by Environment Secretary Michael Gove has recommended that rogue waste crime operators could be given new fines if they mislabel their waste to avoid tax rules. 

The review also concluded that mandatory electronic tracking of waste could help clamp-down on illegal movements of waste at home and abroad, as well as financial penalties for producers if their waste is found to be deposited illegally.   


These recommendations come from a major independent review ordered in June, which looked at the Government’s approach to tackling waste crime.  

The review found that the Government should give the criminals responsible greater cause to fear the consequences of their actions.  

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “The threat to society from waste crime is real. Criminals are running illegal waste sites as a cover for theft, human trafficking, drug running and money laundering. 

“It is costing our economy millions of pounds each year and blighting our communities. I welcome today’s review. We are committed to clamping down on these unscrupulous groups and we will set out our next steps in our forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy.” 

Other recommendations include: 

  • A Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) led by the Environment Agency with the Police, Crime Commissioners, HMRC and waste industry representatives working together to tackle the most serious cases 
  • A national database of registered waste brokers to make it harder for unscrupulous operators to do businesses.  

Lizzie Noel, who chaired the review, said: “In this report, we set out how we can modernise the structures, capabilities and powers to manage and reduce the problem of organised waste crime now and in the future. 

“Our intention must be to give the criminals responsible real cause to fear the consequences of their actions. Today that is not the case. I would like to record my thanks to my review team, my advisory board, colleagues at Defra and the Environment Agency.” 

According to Defra, between 2011 and 2017, the Environment Agency stopped the operation of 5,411 illegal waste sites. 

Since 2014, the Environment Agency has been given an extra £60 million by the Government towards enforcement work to tackle waste crime. The extra investment has shown a return of about £5 for every £1 extra spent.  

Environment Agency chief executive James Bevan said: “The review rightly recognises the dedication of Environment Agency officers who work tirelessly to bring the criminals to justice. In the last year, the Environment Agency has closed down over 800 illegal waste sites and brought almost 100 successful waste crime prosecutions. 

“But there is still more to be done. This report represents an opportunity to ensure we have the right powers, resources and coordination to win this fight.” 

The recommendations of the review will be considered and responded to in Defra’s upcoming Resources and Waste Strategy.  

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