UK government unveils plans for digital waste tracking

21st January 2022

The UK government has today opened a consultation on plans to a introduce a new digital tracking system to crackdown on waste crime.

Criminal activities including fly-tipping, illegal dumping, and the illegal export of waste cost the English economy around £924m between 2018 and 2019, with local authorities dealing with nearly 1.13 million fly-tipping incidents alone.

Using powers in the landmark Environment Act, today's proposals would see all organisations handling waste forced to digitally record information from the point waste is produced, to the stage it is disposed of, recycled and reused.

It is hoped that this will enable regulators to better detect illegal activity and tackle waste crime, and help businesses make more informed choices about how their waste is managed.

The government has also opened a consultation on plans to increase background checks on firms who move or trade waste, and to make it easier for regulators across the UK take action against rogue operators.

“New mandatory digital waste tracking will greatly improve transparency in the sector and make it easier for householders to check that their waste is being disposed of legally,” said Environment Minister Jo Churchill.

“Together, these reforms will stop criminals abusing the waste system and make it easier to prosecute offenders successfully.”

Between 2017 and 2020, the Environment Agency stopped illegal waste activity at 2,700 sites and initiated 191 prosecutions for illegal waste sites, with 39 prison sentences handed down.

Moreover, between 2018 and 2019, the agency prevented 12,690 tonnes of waste illegally being exported through intervention at sites and ports.

The government is now seeking views from the waste industry on a move from a registration, to a permit-based system, which would force those transporting or making decisions about waste to demonstrate they are competent to make those decisions.

Sarah Poulter, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management, said: “The launch of these consultations provides a valuable opportunity for the UK waste and resource management sector to influence its future direction and help eradicate practices which have tarnished its reputation and deterred much needed investment.

“Correctly implemented, these developments will provide assurance for both waste producers and managers that they are dealing with responsible collectors while directly reducing the impact of waste crime on society and the environment.”

Image credit: iStock


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