Illegal waste disposal in the UK: how clean is your area?

By Rob Binns | Writer

What is fly-tipping?

Fly-tipping is defined as illegal waste disposal. While we’re fortunate to have efficient systems in place when it comes to waste disposal, fly-tipping is still a big problem in the UK.

The type of illegally disposed waste can vary greatly, but the overall effect is the same: an unsightly mess that is dangerous to animals (and sometimes humans), and costly to local councils.

We decided to dig deeper into the issue to find out which parts of the UK are the worst offenders. We compared the population of areas with the number of incidents of fly-tipping up and down the UK, and the results were surprising.

Which are the worst areas for fly-tipping?

illegal waste disposal england

Londoners are by far the worst offenders when it comes to fly-tipping.

The central borough of City of London came out on top, with 238 incidents of fly-tipping for every 1000 people. House prices in this area are among the highest in the country, averaging around £955,500.

This wasn’t the only pricey area to find itself in disgrace – in fact, far from it. Houses in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea average £2.1 million, making this the most expensive area in the UK. Shockingly, it’s the twelfth worst area for fly-tipping, giving new meaning to the term ‘filthy rich’.

The fact that so many affluent areas are such illegal waste hotspots really overrides the argument that fly-tipping happens because you have to pay to dispose of bulkier items at a tip.

That said, the rest of the UK is far from blameless, with Northampton and Great Yarmouth coming sixth and seventh respectively. In the North, Pendle and Gateshead were the worst areas, taking the ninth and tenth spots.

Which areas fly-tip the least?

The disparity between the areas that came out best and worst for fly-tipping was huge. At the bottom of the scale, we have Oadby and Wigston in the East Midlands which last year reported only 0.3 cases of fly-tipping for every 1000 people.

Put into perspective, that means there are nearly 800 times more cases of fly-tipping per 1000 people in the City of London as in Oadby and Wigston.

Other areas that performed particularly well were Kirklees, South Cambridgeshire, Lewes and Suffolk Coast.

What penalties can illegal waste disposal incur?

Illegal waste disposal (ie. fly-tipping) became a criminal offence in 2005, and the punishments can be severe. Those found guilty can face a fine of up to £50,000 and up to five years imprisonment. On top of this, they may also have to pay legal costs and compensation.

In past cases, this has seen businesses and individuals pay upwards of £90,000. It’s more important than ever that businesses keep up to speed on UK waste regulations and how to stick to them.

For smaller incidents of fly-tipping that are considered non-hazardous, the result is more likely to be a fine of £150 to £400.

How are businesses contributing to the problem?

While a lot of the waste that is fly-tipped is often domestic (white goods, furniture etc.) illegally dumped business waste is also a real issue. Common types include:

  • Construction waste, including rubble, plasterboard, kitchen and bathroom suites and more hazardous items such as paint, asbestos and chemicals
  • Trade waste, including paperwork and general rubbish

As a business, you have a social and legal responsibility to take all reasonable steps to ensure that your commercial waste is disposed of properly.

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How should businesses dispose of waste?

Businesses have a ‘duty of care’ when it comes to waste disposal. This basically means it’s up to them to make sure it’s done properly.

Businesses must keep written information about their waste disposal for a minimum of two years. This information should all be readily available for inspection by the council or Environment Agency if needed.

If your commercial waste won’t be picked up by a local council, we recommend you get it collected by a company that is a registered waste carrier. We’ve rounded up our pick of the top five such companies in the UK. If you choose to transport rubbish for disposal yourself, you must make sure your company is a registered waste carrier.

Of course, one obvious way to make this task easier is to take steps to produce less rubbish! The planet and your bottom line will thank you for it. Read all our recommendations for how to make your business greener in 2019.

Rob Binns Writer

Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, social media monitoring, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.

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