Firms’ waste disposal issues

Fly-tipped rubbish

Fly-tipped rubbish

Wigan businesses are struggling to do the right thing with their waste, with almost half admitting to practices that mean they are not complying fully with the law.

A new survey shows that while 98 per cent of firms in the region think they are complying with obligations under waste Duty of Care law, many are leaving themselves open to unlimited fines, prosecution and potential closure due to their lack of awareness.

By not complying, businesses risk waste falling into the hands of criminals, leading to environmental, health and safety risks through fly-tipping and illegal disposal.

In Wigan alone, over 2,500 incidents of fly-tipping were recorded in 2014-15, costing the local authority over £155,000 in investigations and clearance.

The national survey by Right Waste, Right Place - mainly focused on small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) - found that in the North West, 44 per cent of businesses didn’t know where all their waste goes when it leaves site.

Over a third also admitted to not being sure whether they completed or kept essential Waste Transfer Notes, a key requirement.

Further, many were unsure on how to correctly classify all the waste materials they handled.

By not complying, businesses risk waste falling into the hands of criminals, leading to environmental, health and safety risks through fly-tipping and illegal disposal.

Putting the wrong waste in the wrong place can also cause problems with contamination of material destined for recycling, potentially costing businesses money.

In response, the Right Waste, Right Place campaign has been launched to help businesses understand what is expected of them. Centred on an interactive website (www.rightwasterightplace.com) and run by the Environmental Services Association, the campaign is backed by the Environment Agency and Chartered Institution of Wastes Management and offers advice on how to manage waste safely and efficiently.

Sam Corp, Head of Regulation at the ESA, said: “These results back up what we suspected, that small businesses really want to do the right thing but many are ultimately not complying with the law. Nearly half told us that they’re unsure where the waste goes when it leaves them. Dealing with your waste can fall down the list of priorities when busy, but business people in the North West need to realise that they are risking significant penalties if they do not comply.

“Waste crime is not victimless. Dealing with the results is costing taxpayers millions of pounds each year and waste criminals can harm the environment and put local communities in danger. By not complying, local businesses could well be helping facilitate such crime by not ensuring waste is disposed of safely. The Right Waste, Right Place campaign is here to help. Small business owners are often stretched, multi-tasking and under pressure.”