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The Environment Agency (EA) has intercepted an increasing number of illegal shipments containing contaminated agricultural plastic waste destined for countries around the world. This comes not long after the EA repatriated 21 containers with nearly 13,000 tonnes of waste that were illegally exported to Sri Lanka in October. This has brought to light the worrying frequency of “waste crime” and has resulted in the urging of those involved to vigilantly check their waste management processes.

For farmers and agricultural businesses: ensure that waste is handled properly by following these recommendations from the EA.

What is “waste crime” and why should I care?

Waste crime is anything from fly tipping to illegally shipping waste, and while it’s not often taken very seriously, even small offences can be costly for local councils. Mismanaged waste also means things aren’t being properly recycled, which is both damaging for the planet and the economy.

A report by the newly formed Waste Compliance Taskforce on waste crime in Manchester found that fly tipping alone resulted in 20,000 tonnes of illegally dumped waste in just one year. This would have cost the councils of Greater Manchester nearly £4.9 million in clearance and enforcement costs.

Proper waste management can be a complicated (and frankly boring) process to navigate. At ESS we help to streamline your waste management services to ensure you’re always compliant and as sustainable as possible.

Where is your waste going?

This brings us to the larger issue of where our waste is going, and why?

The recycling rate for households in the UK has stayed around 45% for the past few years. The rest of our waste tends to end up in landfills. Paper, cardboard, metal, and glass are often recycled here in the UK. However, roughly two-thirds of the UK’s plastic waste is sent overseas to be recycled.

China used to import most of the world’s plastic waste but tightened its allowance due to concerns around pollution. Since then, Malaysia, Turkey, Poland, and Indonesia stepped in, but even they are getting tired of becoming the world’s dumping ground.

With countries tightening recycling regulations and turning away waste shipments, countries like the UK will have to develop better recycling processes. This will be far more beneficial for the environment, but it will require a potentially costly transition. Sustainable materials will have to be adopted wherever possible and more recyclable plastics will hopefully become widespread and less expensive.

How does it affect our clients?

Waste management is easily overlooked. Once you throw something in the bin, it is quickly forgotten.

At the moment this gives some waste companies the opportunity to play outside the rules with little consequence. This includes waste crime like illegally shipping waste overseas without their customers’ knowledge. In the future, we can expect oversight and penalties to grow in severity as the UK transitions towards a green economy.

In the future, organisations and waste companies will have no choice but to take responsibility for all of their climate-related impacts and risks. At ESS we embrace green initiatives and help our clients stay compliant. We can help streamline all of your utility systems to increase your savings, reduce your carbon footprint, and promote your green credentials to your staff, customers, and the wider community.

If you’re interested in taking control of your waste management, contact us at ESS.


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