Environment Agency figures on waste crime beg questions as to what is really happening.
Environment Agency Actions for 2018/19
It is an oft repeated statement in the tyre sector that the Environment Agency does not act effectively at dealing with illegal tyre operations. It is easy to make accusations, but what are the real figures?
Tyre and Rubber Recycling asked the EA for data from 1st Jan 2019, unfortunately the 2019 onwards data has not yet been finalised. However, the EA did respond with figures for the previous year.
We asked how many illegal – non-registered waste sites, were reported/ investigated from 1st Jan 2019? The figures for the 18/19 period stood at 1076 reported illegal waste sites. Of those sites 33 included a reference to tyres as one of the wastes present and records suggested that 20 of those sites included just tyres.
The EA further stated that: Of those 33 sites, 5 remain active and 28 are recorded as no longer operating illegally. Of the 28 we have noted enforcement actions against these sites as 8 received advice and guidance, 1 was subject to prevention and disruption activity, 4 received warning letters, 3 received no further action and the remaining records are open with actions investigation and potential enforcement outcomes ongoing.
The aim of the EA in dealing with waste issues is primarily to give guidance and try to assist businesses towards legitimate operations. This can sometimes be seen as a soft touch, or ineffective, by those following a legitimate route for recycling.
In 18/19 the EA successfully concluded 107 waste crime prosecutions, securing fines of £1,100,012 and 18 custodial sentences. EA records suggest that one of those prosecutions was against a site where tyres were the sole waste type.
That single prosecution can be seen as an indication that the EA has successfully pushed operators to legitimate practices, or, it can be seen that they have not effectively pursued rogue tyre collections as the industry might wish them to.
Speaking with Peter Taylor at the TRA, he seemed perplexed by the figures. Surely there must have been more action than is shown against illegal and Exempted sites breaching the rules?