Watch what you waste

30 January 2020

With waste crime costing the UK economy around £600m a year, the Government are now taking proactive action.

On the 16 January 2020, the Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) became the first dedicated taskforce to tackling waste crime in the UK. The creation of the JUWC is as a direct result of the Home Office’s review in 2018 which highlighted the need for strict regulation of waste crime which is often linked to other serious criminal activity, such as fraud and modern slavery.

Waste crime is the illegal dumping or burning of waste where no permission has been granted, including permitting others to dump or burn waste illegally. Such activity includes flytipping and exporting waste abroad. It is seen by many criminals as a money making exercise as they charge usual rates to collect and transport the waste before illegally disposing of it and taking the profits. This then has a knock on effect on the economy and tax payers’ money which has to be used to clear up pollution that affects humans and animals alike, rather than being spent on other parts of society such as healthcare and education.

The impact of waste crime outlined above has now been recognised by the Government who has taken the step to introduce the JUWC in the hope to reduce waste crime in the UK. Comprising of law enforcement agencies, environmental regulators, HM Revenue and Customs and the National Crime Agency, the JUWC aim to achieve this through their powers to carry out site inspections, make arrests, bring prosecutions and upon conviction, seek higher fines and, in exceptional cases, custodial sentences. It is thought that sharing intelligence and resources between the different entities that form the JUWC will lead to prompt investigations and result in successful prosecutions than the Environmental Agency (EA) has achieved to date. It is hoped that the EA’s efforts to prevent waste crime at 912 sites in the last year will be greatly increased by the collaborative JUWC.

To ensure that you and/or your organisation are disposing of waste legally, the Government have made a number of recommendations which can be found on their website. However, should you require specific advice on how best to manage your waste or any other environmental issues, our Environmental team here at Birketts are here to assist.

This article is for information only. For further information please contact Philippa Dyer or a member of the Environmental team.

The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at January 2020.


Philippa Dyer

Senior Associate

+44 (0)1473 299171

+44 (0)7817 940663


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Charlotte Simpson


+44 (0)1473 406248


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