In an attempt to stop businesses using the tip without a license, councils have began to put bans on sign written vans using the tip. However with almost a million fly-tipping incidents a year occurring in England alone last year, is their approach just making things worse?
Public awareness about the costs and environmental damage caused by fly-tipping is meant to be increasing.
In 2017/2018, there were 998,000 fly-tipping incidences in England alone
Punishments for offenders include heavy fines and even prison sentences in really serious cases – so why are incidences of fly-tipping not rapidly decreasing in the UK?
The most recent statistics released by the UK Government show that for the year 2017/2018, local authorities in England alone dealt with just under one million (998,000) incidences of fly-tipping.
And despite the more active work in trying to prevent them, this was only a slight decrease of 1% down from the 1,011,000 reported the previous year.
Two thirds of these fly-tipping incidences – 66% - involved household waste, with the most common dumping place being at the sides of busy highways which accounted for almost half – 47% – of total incidents.
All banning vans has done is stop people, who are doing work on their own homes from visiting the tip.
The majority of items dumped come under the umbrella term of ‘black bin bag loads’ and are deemed to be household waste.
This includes items such as bits and pieces gathered from house or shed clearances – old furniture, carpets and waste from DIY and house renovation projects.
In 2017/18 household waste fly-tipping accounted for two thirds of all incidents – 66%.
The second most commonly dumped items was waste from commercial usage and includes items such as pallets, cardboard boxes, plastics and foam.
It is being made harder and harder to sensibly dispose of rubbish
There were 68,000 incidents involving commercial waste in 2017/18, accounting for 7% of total incidents. This was a 3% increase on 2016/17, when 66,000 commercial waste incidents were reported.
But although we are seeing a slight decrease of 4% in the more common household items, deterrents clearly aren’t working.
John Stubbs, who works at a tip in West Sussex, says that constant issues are being put in people’s way when it comes to visiting the site.
He said: “It has become about making money for the council, that is the problem. People tell us we are making life difficult, and we know it is being made harder and harder to sensibly dispose of rubbish, but we are working on council orders.
“The local council to us has just put a full-on ban on people coming in the tip with a sign written van unless you pay a heavy price to have a licence. It is a bit ridiculous."
“They don’t want waste from building sites coming here, we get that. They want that to be disposed of properly by building firms. I understand it completely. But it is rare that we have seen that happen.
“And it becomes pretty obvious when people come in in the same company vans over and over. They should put a common sense approach on it. Have us keep an eye, keep a lookout for those we think is suspicious, then ask to visit sites/ homes etc to make sure.
“Because all it has done is stop people, who are doing work on their own homes from visiting. We are getting load of complaints about it being over the top, and the problem is most of the workers here agree. But what can we do?”
It is not just household and commercial waste although these are the most common.
Rubbish deemed to be coming from construction, demolition and excavation was said to be dumped 50,000 times in 17/18
The UK Government specifically break down their data into key sections.
As well as the household and commercial sectors, there are also statistics for construction, demolition and excavation, white goods, green waste, electrical, tyres, vehicle parts, animal carcasses, clinical waste, asbestos and other unidentified.
All of these combined accounted in the most recent year’s stats for just 27% of all fly-tipping incidents.
Councils say that for some waste types, such as green waste and electrical goods, it is nearly impossible to tell whether they originated from households or businesses.
" ...the law is changing. From now on it isn’t who dumped it, it is where the rubbish originated from that takes the hit, so now companies are being super careful about which companies they hire to take away their rubbish"
For 2017/18 white goods were dumped 49,000 times, down from 56,000 the year before whilst green waste was disposed of by fly-tipping 32,000 times – exactly the same as the previous year.
Tyres were found to be dumped 14,000 times in 2017/18 – an increase on the year before which saw 13,000 incidents reported.
Rubbish deemed to be coming from construction, demolition and excavation was said to be dumped 50,000 times in 17/18 – down from the last year when 55,000 incidents were recorded.
Vehicle parts were dumped 8,191 times in 2017/18 compared to 8,177 times the year before whereas the dumping of asbestos was actually up in most recent figures, going from 3,190 incidents in 2016/17 compared to 3,226 this past year.
Clinical waste was also up from 1,615 incidents to 1,797 as was the dumping of animal carcasses which went from 5,804 incidents to 6,084 in a single year.
John continued: “You get a lot less of the dumping of the more unusual sections of the data given. Stuff such as clinical waste, vehicle parts and material from construction projects is often very easily traceable.
“NHS and private hospitals will have specialist teams getting rid of their clinical waste and any vehicle parts which come from garages often have serial numbers so if there was an investigation it would not take long to work out where it came from.
“And the law is changing. From now on it isn’t who dumped it, it is where the rubbish originated from that takes the hit, so now companies are being super careful about which companies they hire to take away their rubbish. It just isn’t worth the risk anymore.
“And households need to be careful to. If there’s a man in a van who wants to take your rubbish for you, say no, and get a reputable company in to do it. It may cost you more in the short term, but in the long term it could stop you getting a hefty fine, or in the worst-case scenario, find yourself in front of the judges at court.
“It goes without saying though, there is a massive problem with fly-tipping and the figures aren’t going down quick enough. It makes you wonder if the Government are doing enough.”