Very few things are unsightly and one of these is fly-tipping. In addition to being disturbing to see, it’s also costly for our country. Local authorities spent £12.9 million to clean up fly-tipping cases in 2018/19, with this being only the smallest 3% of the overall cases across the nation. 

We’ve experienced a rise of 8% since in fly-tipping since 2017/18, statistics revealed, a 50% increase compared to 2012/2013. Alongside this huge increase in the last decade, 62% of this fly-tipped waste was found to be household waste. The most common place for fly-tipping to occur was along pavements and roads.

Source: Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, ‘Fly-tipping statistics for England 2018/19’

Perhaps the cuts on bin collection services across the country may have generated a waste handling crisis, but this still can’t explain why people would be loading their cars with black bags to throw out onto the roads at night. Or is there a different culprit for us to be aware of?

Deterrents: are they working?

A person can be fined up to £50,000 for fly-tipping, risking an additional five-year prison sentence. But, according to a report by the Guardian, while on-the-spot fines are on the rise, the number of people being prosecuted to the highest level for fly-tipping is staggeringly low: only two people have received the maximum fine, and in the last six years, 83% of fines were under £500.

An interesting observation: the number legal charges has not increased exponentially despite the rise of fly-tipping offences. To compare 2012/13 with 2018/19 again, even though the number of fly-tipping offences increased 50% from 715 to 1,072, the number of total prosecutions for the crime have only increased by 9%, from 2,170 to 2,397. The number of successful prosecutions has actually dropped since 2012/13 too, from 98.8% to 96.2%.

Although finding who is mainly responsible for fly-tipping is a difficult task, perhaps a stronger intervention from law enforcement is necessary. Plus, addressing the problem after the act of fly-tipping has occurred won’t solve the crisis. Addressing the root causes of the increase will certainly be more effective in reducing the rate of fly-tipping.

Clearly, it’s unlikely that citizens are intentionally packing rubbish to release illegally on the streets at night. But are we always aware of where our rubbish is going?

Involuntary fly-tipping?

The saying “if it sounds too good to be true” reflects many situations. Facebook adverts are certainly one of those things. With bin emptying services cut down in many areas, it’s understandable that people are turning to social media and small business offers to help keep the rubbish from piling up in their homes. Go on Facebook and you’ll find an abundance of cut-price waste removal offers, usually from one person with a van. Sadly, many of these services are not legitimate: the Guardian also reported how one such advert on Facebook resulted in a £3,275 fine for a man in Wiltshire after it was revealed his waste clearance service was, in fact, simply him picking up people’s rubbish to fly-tip later. People were paying for this man to come and clear away their rubbish responsibly, unaware that he was simply pocketing the money and throwing the rubbish out into the street.

Help clean up our Nation 

Everyone desires to save money. But these cheap, unregulated deals on social media can land you with a hefty fine of your own, meaning you’ll pay more in the long run for trying to get your waste cleared on the cheap. Instead of taking the risk, hop on Google instead of Facebook and search for cheap rubbish clearance there instead! There are plenty of registered, professional waste removal companies that can clear away your household waste responsibly, cheaply, and most of all, in a way that doesn’t damage the environment at all.

Richard Walker, one of Skip Hire’s disposal experts, advises people to take responsibility for all their waste:

“The responsibility of waste disposal doesn’t transfer across when you pay someone to dispose of your waste. Sadly, many customers believe this is where their responsibility ends. However, it’s the duty of the person that creates the waste to ensure it is disposed of responsibly and in the correct manner. And this means that you must use a reputable business that is legally allowed to transport your waste, and that they dispose of it in a legally compliant way. It’s your job to ensure all this happens, so make sure you do thorough checks! If it seems too good to be true — it very often is. The real cost could be much higher if you’re caught cutting corners when it comes to waste disposal.”

Let’s work on making 2020 the year we finally bin fly-tipping! It’s easy enough — pick legitimate, registered waste carriers to help you clear away your household rubbish and rest easy knowing you’re not going to end up being an unaware fly-tipper yourself!