ESA writes open letter to incoming EA Chair Philip Duffy regarding waste crime inactivity

Gavin Graveson, ESA Chairman, Jul 18, 2023

The ESA has recently written to the new Environment Agency Chief Executive, Phillip Duffy, to highlight the issues that are undermining effective enforcement against waste crime, and setting out the industry’s recommendations for addressing these challenges

On the same day that the Agency released a report of the findings of its 2023 National Waste Crime Survey (which found that nearly a fifth of all waste in the UK is managed illegally (or 34 million tonnes a year) and that 20% those that handle waste material commercially are engaged in criminality, mostly with links to organised crime), the ESA Board wrote a letter, from our Chairman Gavin Graveson, to the new Environment Agency Chief Executive lamenting the inactivity against waste crime.

We highlighted that despite the knowledge they have on the ground, and from the waste crime report, the situation has not improved and has in fact, been deteriorating. 

We also hihglighted that the Government outlined in the Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP) a hugely ambitious target of eliminating waste crime by 2043 (HM Government, 2023). Given the current approach and resources dedicated to tackling waste crime, this simply cannot be achieved. However, the ESA is ready to support you in improving the EA’s approach and encourages the increase of dedicated resources to help you meet this target.

Waste is more valuable than ever before. The increasing use of policy and legislation to drive waste away from cheap landfill to further up the waste hierarchy has meant that a lorry of waste is worth at least £2,000. Thirty years ago, an equivalent load would have cost £200.  

It is, therefore, more important than ever that enforcement action consistently succeeds in reducing the potential for economic gain, and does so in a timely manner.

This is why we have made a call to action to help tackle the issue of waste crime :

  • Adequate resources must be put towards tackling waste crime 
  • More effective enforcement is needed 
  • Regulatory reform must be fast tracked 
  • We need to improve the measurement of waste crime

We are currently at a crossroads and inaction will let the industry drift further into the hands of criminals. We want to work with you to vigorously drive out illegal activity from the sector, which in turn will help members of the ESA and other legitimate operators across the sector, to both deliver a circular economy in England and protect the natural environment.

In signing off the letter, ESA Chairman, Gavin Graveson, welcomed the opportunity to meet with Philip Duffy at the earliest opportunity to discuss this pressing issue in more detail.  

A copy of the letter can be found here