- The head of the U.K.'s Environment Agency (EA) says that waste crime in England is on the rise, calling it "the new narcotics," as reported by The Guardian.
- "It feels to me like drugs felt in the 1980s: the system hadn’t quite woken up to the enormity of what was going on and was racing to catch up," said Sir James Bevan, EA's chief executive. Organized crime elements are said to be involved in some of these incidents.
- Crimes such as illegal dumping and recycling fraud are estimated to cost England about £1 billion (approx. $1.3 billion USD) per year. EA shut down almost 1,000 illegal sites last year — more than the previous two years combined — and 662 remained active as of March.
In addition to illegal dumping, which can provide quick profits and long-lasting environmental damage, fraud is also common. One man made nearly $3 million in an e-waste scam that fell apart when paperwork was discovered claiming he had made collection on streets that didn't exist. Bevan noted that these actions shouldn't give the whole industry a bad name and EA makes a point of working with companies that want to improve.
"Waste companies get a bad rap, but we should recognize that most waste companies are responsible, law-abiding, conscientious and good for our communities. They take our waste away and turn it into something better and if we didn’t have them, we’d be in a bad place," he told The Guardian.
The U.S. has its share of waste crimes issues too, as evidenced by recent illegal dumping cases in South Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Jersey — which also had an organized crime connection. As law enforcement officials work on tracking down these criminals, it creates an impetus for everyone else in the industry to provide positive guidance.