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Recycling impact on fly-tipping

December 11, 2007 at 3:18 pm

Recycling schemes are all very well but what effect do they have on fly tipping? No-one likes to see rubbish strewn all over their streets or blighting the countryside but unfortunately, this is an increasing problem in many parts of the UK. Sadly not everyone is a good citizen, and when councils start restricting kerbside collection of non-recyclable waste from householders, then the temptation for the unscrupulous to fly-tip seems too enormous to resist.

During the year 2006-2007, local authorities spent £76 million clearing up fly-tipping mess and over three-quarters of that came from householders. Figures from Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) indicate that the number of fly tipping incidents rose by 5% from 2005-2006 but that more action was being taken by local authorities and government alike to address the problem. 1371 prosecutions were carried out and 94% of these were successful.

It seems that the worst offenders are in Liverpool, where the city council had to fork out a staggering £15.6 million last year to clear up 1.3 million incidents. The way forward, according to a spokesman from Defra, is that “initiatives to boost recycling should be supported by fly tipping strategies aimed at preventing the illegal dumping of waste.”

Businesses too are guilty of irresponsibly dumping waste. However, figures show that the problem has actually decreased by 10% from 2005-2006, with the number of illegally dumped black bags of commercial waste dropping from 59,630 to 53,566. This may be as a direct result of local councils more than doubling the number of inspection visits made to businesses to monitor the situation.

The District of Easington Council in County Durham has excelled in its attempts to tackle fly-tipping, not only reducing the number of incidents from 473 (2005–2006) to 422 (2006-2007) but also increasing the number of enforcement actions from 164 to 197. Ian Hoult, the Environmental Enforcement Manager, said that their success had come about by erecting signs warning people of the consequence of their actions, and by increasing patrols and surveillance work.

As of last year, the council has had the power to stop and search any vehicles which they believe may be carrying waste without the proper waste carrier registration. Anyone found to have fallen foul of the regulations, can be fined up to £5000 and have their vehicle confiscated. George Patterson, an Easington District Councillor, points out that householders must also take responsibility and, when having work done on their houses, should ensure that the waste is disposed of by a regulated carrier or they too may face a fine.

Other councils which have done well with their fly-tipping initiatives include Islington, Milton Keynes, Sheffield and Worthing, and the Minister with responsibility for recycling and waste, Joan Ruddock, would like to see other councils follow their example. She adds that members of the public and businesses alike must do their bit and report fly-tipping in an attempt to tackle the problem together.

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