Roles and responsibilities
Businesses, local authorities and the Environment Agency all have a part to play in tackling waste crime.
Businesses have a responsibility to ensure that waste they produce or handle is managed and disposed of legally. Please see our duty or care pages for more information:
Businesses also have responsibility for certain products they place on the market including packaging, electrical and electronic equipment, batteries and vehicles. There are detailed regulations for each waste stream. In all cases producers, either collectively or individually, must pay for the collection, treatment, recycling and environmentally sound disposal of at least some of their products at the end of their life.
If your waste is not disposed of correctly it may become part of an illegal waste stream with serious implications for the environment, communities, other legitimate businesses, and also the reputation of your own business.
For more information please see our pages on producer responsibility:
We lead on dealing with serious waste crime which is often organised, large-scale and profitable. Priority waste crime types include large-scale illegal dumping, illegal waste sites and illegal exports of waste. We also deal with high risk activities such as illegal disposal of wastes, where there is an actual or imminent threat of significant flooding or pollution.
Local authorities lead on dealing with smaller scale incidents. These fly-tipping activities are typically carried out by individuals dumping small quantities of waste in a local area. For more information and how to report an incident see our fly-tipping pages:
How can you help?
You can report incidents of environmental crime to the Environment Agency’s Incident Line on 0800 80 70 60, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Some people may be anxious about protecting their identity when reporting waste crime. To help these people the Environment Agency are working in partnership with the charity Crimestoppers – Crimestoppers is an independent charity. This means we can offer the public and businesses a new way to report environmental crime anonymously.
You may have information on our priority waste crime types, including:
- large scale illegal dumping - more than two large skips worth of waste
- illegal waste sites - for example, dealing with used vehicles, scrap metal or waste
- illegal export of wastes - for example, tyres, waste electrical equipment and black bag waste containing mixed household waste such as paper, plastics and other materials
If you have information on these areas and you want to report anonymously please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or alternatively you can use their secure online form.
Our approach to tackling waste crime
The Environment Agency uses an intelligence-led approach to tackling waste crime. This means achieving a better understanding of the whole waste crime picture so that we can address the root causes of the problem rather than just dealing with the symptoms.
Intelligence analysis helps us understand waste crime activity and trends. It also helps to identify priority offenders responsible for the most serious types of waste crime - large scale illegal dumping, illegal waste sites and the illegal export of waste. By targeting priority offenders we can prevent, disrupt and stop really serious environmental crime.
Criminals who carry out major environmental crime are often involved in other types of serious crime in the UK and abroad. We work with other agencies including the police, HM Revenue and Customs, the Borders Agency, Interpol, Department of Work and Pensions and local authorities, to share intelligence and where appropriate carry out joint operations.
Partnership working has helped us identify which agency is best-placed to lead on a prosecution according to the scale and type of crime committed. This helps us use our resources effectively and ensure that prosecutions are managed successfully for the benefit of society as a whole. It also means that the impacts on the criminals are greater with larger fines and prison sentences and the opportunity to take cases under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) where it can be demonstrated that criminals have profited from their activities.
Here are some examples of some of our successful prosecutions:
- Cornish haulage company fined for waste offences
The owner of a haulage and waste management company has been orderd to pay more than £100,000 in fines and costs for illegally disposing of thousands of tonnes of waste at two sites in Cornwall.
- Jailed waste crime boss must pay back record £917,000
An organised crime boss who was given the longest ever prison sentence for waste crime offences has been ordered to repay more than £917,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act - and warned he faces four and a half years in jail if he doesn't pay up.
- Toxic waste crime boss jailed
A gang of four waste bosses were successfully prosecuted for illegally storing tonnes of dangerous chemical waste, some of which ended up fly tipped aross the north of England.
The waste crime problem
You can see facts and figures on illegal waste sites, illegal dumping, illegal exports and some of our key successes here:
Find other useful information about waste and waste crime here: