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Everything you need to know about fly-tipping and avoiding waste fines

Commercial Waste Services Westminster
Commercial Waste Services Westminster

In 2018/19, local councils in England dealt with over one million cases of fly-tipping. This equated to nearly 500,000 enforcement actions. The cost for Westminster City Council to clean up and dispose of fly-tipped waste in Westminster reaches up to £1 million per year — this money would be better spent on other services such as education, social care and developing infrastructure for the city instead.  

What is fly-tipping? Fly-tipping is the illegal disposal of waste (such as dumping it somewhere on the street or open land) and it is a criminal offence since it breaks a number of waste management laws. As such, fly-tipping can result in significant fines or imprisonment depending on the severity of the crime. 

There are four common types of fly-tippers in Westminster:

  1. Businesses or residents leaving waste on the street outside of collection times
  2. Businesses that neglect to set up a commercial waste collection contract and fly-tip their waste in black bags on the street or in bins meant for the sole use of residents 
  3. Businesses or residents who leave bulky items on the street without booking a bulky waste collection
  4. Rogue traders and illegal waste collectors who collect waste and then dump it illegally.

Fly-tipping can occur anywhere there is access to open land, such as on roadsides as well as on public or private land. Fly-tipped waste can include anything from old mattresses, electrical equipment and rubbish bags to clinical and hazardous waste types. The size of fly tipping varies from a single bag or box to whole truck loads. When waste is fly-tipped it can be dangerous and toxic, damaging soil, air and water quality. This can have a serious impact on human and animal health. Fly-tipping also creates an unsightly and unsanitary mess on our streets.

How to prevent fly-tipping

Fly-tipping often happens due to people trying to avoid paying to have the waste handled by a licensed and accredited waste collector, such as Commercial Waste Services, so it can be disposed of properly. However, some types of fly-tipping can occur unintentionally if you are unaware of waste regulations. How can you prevent this from happening? Read on to find out more.

Know your waste and recycling collection times

Most fly-tipping incidents in Westminster happen due to waste or recycling being placed on the street outside designated collection times. Clean streets are essential to providing a welcoming place where businesses can thrive. While the best way to store commercial waste is through the use of internal bins and containers, we understand that in a big city such as Westminster, space is often limited. This means some businesses have to present bags out on the street for collection (for now). 

We have some easy to follow tips that help keep Westminster’s streets clean from fly-tipped waste and avoid fines for fly-tipping or placing waste on the street outside collection times: 

  • Familiarise yourself with the waste and recycling collection schedule for your street, which you can find here.
  • You can only place your rubbish bags on the street for collection no more than 30 minutes prior to the collection time shown. 
  • Prior to placing waste bags on the street for collection, ensure you are aware of how to correctly dispose of your waste. Be aware that certain waste cannot be presented on the street for collection, such as bags with food waste, clinical and hazardous waste, asbestos, (cooking) oil, builders waste, appliances, etc.
  • Place waste and recycling bags on the street for collection in the right place. Present the waste on your own premises (steps, forecourts, etc) or as close to the building as possible. Bags of waste must not be in the way of any vehicles or pedestrians.
  • You cannot place bags on the street outside of collection times.
  • Rather than risk placing waste out outside the collection times and receiving a fine for doing so, contact us if you have issues using the collection timebands.

Waste that cannot be placed on the street for collection

Although they represent a minority of fly-tipping cases, hazardous and clinical waste can be among the most damaging and create the greatest nuisance. This includes oil, toxic chemicals, asbestos sheeting, syringes and medication. This type of waste must be presented for a specialist collection and cannot be left on the street. It is important that these items are handled with specialist equipment and suitable receptacles such as bins or containers.

Bags with separately collected food waste cannot be presented on the street for collection due to the risk of leaks, spillage and scavenging by animals and vermin. Instead they must be collected via a dedicated food waste collection service using sturdy bins or caddies. This is also a requirement under the Animal By-Products Regulations, which regulate the handling and disposal of food waste. Failure to handle food waste and animal by-products correctly can lead to enforcement action being taken by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) or Westminster City Council.

Related read: Top 6 waste regulations that are not adhered to in Westminster

Why it is important to use a licenced waste carrier

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 requires households and businesses to have their waste collected by registered and accredited waste collectors. Only these authorised service providers can collect waste. Illegal waste collectors are a big contributor to waste-related crime and fly-tipping. 

How do you know if a waste carrier is illegal? One of the biggest signs is that they will not be able to provide you with their waste carrier licence, nor a waste transfer note. This is official paperwork confirming the receipt of your waste and where it is taken. 

All waste carriers that transport and dispose of waste must be registered with the Environment Agency. Use this online public register to search a business name or registration number to confirm whether you are engaging with a licensed waste carrier. Do not give your waste to anyone of whom you cannot verify their waste carriers registration.

Illegal waste collectors often use informal ways of advertising their services, for example ads in local newspapers, via junk mail, from door-to-door type requests or via social media. Even if your waste is fly-tipped by someone else, you will still be held responsible. What seemed like a bargain of a waste collection could become a rather expensive headache that way.  

Finding a licensed waste collector is not difficult. Westminster City Council Commercial Waste Services offers a reliable, flexible service, with experience in handling a wide variety of waste streams. What is more, using our service instead of private waste collectors helps to avoid duplicate waste collection journeys, which contribute to congestion and vehicle emissions.

What else you can do to avoid an unlicensed collector:

  • Always ask to see evidence of where your waste will be taken for disposal.
  • Do not give your waste to carriers that refuse to tell you where your waste will be taken or if you cannot verify their waste carriers registration.
  • Do not work with a waste carrier that cold calls your business.
  • Avoid collectors that advertise their services in informal ways such as on social media.
  • Do not give your waste to a carrier whose price seems too good to be true. It could become a rather expensive venture if your waste is found fly-tipped somewhere.
  • If you suspect your waste carrier is unlicensed, record as much detail on them as possible (name, contact number, business card or flyer, vehicle registration, etc.) so enforcement action can be taken. Inform us when this happens. 

The national Right Waste Right Place campaign provides more information on disposing of your waste legally. 

Do not lose control over where your business waste winds up. Choose a reliable and trustworthy provider that will help you meet your duty of care and recycle your waste properly. At Commercial Waste Services, we give you the confidence that your waste is in good hands and managed responsibly. 

What more can you do to meet your duty of care obligations and put the right waste in the right place? See here for a quick reference guide on how to ensure you are managing your commercial waste in a compliant way.

Explore the full cost of waste crime and fly-tipping.

Report fly-tipping immediately

If you witness fly-tipping, it is critical to report it immediately. Be sure not to touch or move the waste as it could be hazardous and dangerous. It could contain anything from used syringes to broken glass and toxic chemicals. In addition, leaving the fly-tipped waste in its place will allow enforcement officers to possibly identify the offenders as it is likely there will be evidence at the scene.

Simply look at the waste to determine what it consists of and how much there is. It is important to take pictures and take note of the exact location, date and time you witnessed the fly-tipping. 

Record as many details as you can about the incident; this could also include any people or vehicles involved (what the people looked like, registration number, vehicle make/model etc.) You can report this information to us anonymously if needed. This information will help us to take action against the fly-tippers and get the waste removed. However, do not put yourself at risk by confronting fly-tippers since some of them operate as part of criminal gangs or organised crime.  

Have you witnessed fly-tipping in Westminster? Report it here.

All businesses have to comply with a duty of care when they produce waste. Legally, it is your responsibility to ensure you store, transport and dispose of your business’ waste without harming the environment. 

Download our duty of care leaflet to find out how you should present your waste to comply with waste management regulations.

What waste goes where?

Now that you are familiar with the rules and regulations around fly-tipping and how to avoid it, it is also important to remember to separate your waste and recycling in the right bins before collection. We understand that with different types of bins it can sometimes be confusing to know what waste goes where and when it is collected.

Luckily, we have put together a simple guide showing you exactly where to put different types of waste — from polystyrene, paper and glass bottles to batteries, food waste and coffee cups. Download the guide today.

what waste goes where guide

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