Everybody in the waste industry, and that includes tyre recovery and recycling, knows that the sector is a magnet for criminal operations, and a report by Interpol makes for some disconcerting reading.
In Germany, the Police report waste crimes, and a Google search for “Altreifen” almost always returns a number of crime reports about tyres abandoned or dumped in the wild. In the UK, only the larger incidents make it to the local press.
It is presumed by the bona fide players that these fly-tippers are exploiting the lack of control, and evading tax and gate fees by working “in the black.”
However, these fly-by-night operators are only a small part of the problem, and internationally the waste sector has become a centre of operations for organised crime. The Interpol report explains how these operations are structured, and gives some case studies, that show the variation from organised criminals from local groupings, through bona-fide businesses sailing too close to the wind, to the involvement of three Mafia clans that they have identified.
Tyres do arise as a subject area of concern. In fact, the single largest identified waste sector investigated involved waste tyres.
The figures involved will make bona fide operators feel ill. Those who work hard, who play by the rules, will look at the value of the criminal operations and wonder why they bother. Profits across the 27 cases investigated averaged out at $19.6M.
The report outlines that not all involved were criminals, but some were deceived by fraudulent paperwork.
The report says; “Despite the mutual benefit, in some of the 27 cases analysed, the waste producers/collectors were not consenting accomplices of the offending brokers, but were deceived to pay a fee in exchange for waste treatment, recycling or disposal services which in fact never took place. Document fraud was an essential component of this environmental and economic fraud, particularly the falsification of licences and invoices to prove the alleged legal disposal, as reflected in several cases provided by Australia, Germany, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom.”
As always, if the deal looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t. However, in the case of fraud, the perpetuators will make the paperwork look as genuine as possible, and retailers may well be paying a legitimate price for a criminal service. This is where the retailer’s Duty of Care applies, in ensuring that the paperwork for his tyre/ waste collection is bona fide through to, as far as can be determined, the last point of transfer, or end-of-waste.
The full Interpol report can be found here