New study: Waste crime might cost the UK £800 million a year

Handcuffs (Thorben Wengert /

London, UK — The illegal disposal and management of waste materials might cost the UK economy up to £808 million a year, a new report has found. The cost range of Illegal Waste Sites is estimated from £126.9 to 224.3 million per year, tax evasion might reach £93.7 to 314.0 million per year, and the costs of fly-tipping could app up from £103.2 to 270.0 million per year. The report on „Waste Crime: Tackling Britain’s Dirty Secret“ was commissioned by the Environmental Services  Association Education Trust (ESAET) and written by Eunomia Research & Consulting.

Policy measures that have rightly been implemented to support recycling and promote a resource economy raise the cost of legitimate waste disposal, and by evading these costs criminals can make substantial profits. The profits are largely at the expense of the government, but also reduce  the income that can be made by permitted waste operators.

There is more that the waste industry can do to support efforts to combat waste crime, especially if these efforts are facilitated by government. However, the work carried out to date risks being undermined through cuts to the resources available to detect and stop waste crime. According to the Environment Agency’s latest waste crime annual report, the core spending on waste crime was £16.9m in 2012/13, down from £17.4 million in 2011/12.

Based on the analysis provided in the report of the characteristics and impacts of waste crime and the
factors that lead to it being committed, discussions have taken place with industry, government and
regulators regarding the measures that  might be taken to tackle the problem. Numerous candidate solutions have been considered, and a preferred short list of four broad recommendations drawn up. Within each recommendation, two or more specific actions were identified. The recommendations put forward are intended to address the four themes identified within the factors leading to waste crime.

These are:

  • Enforcement of waste crime by the Environment Agency
  • Structural problems with the waste market
  • Lack of knowledge/awareness of businesses and individuals handing over waste
  • Ineffective sentencing outcomes delivered by the courts

The full report can be downloaded from

Source: Environmental Services  Association Education Trust (ESAET)