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Crackdown on illegal waste at recycling centres

16 August 2016

Waste from Essex businesses, which has been illegally left at recycling centres, has left taxpayers with a disposal bill running to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

‘Man with a van’ operators offering cheap rubbish clearance, property developers and independent building and home improvement trades have swamped many sites.

Local facilities have seen the amount of DIY and construction waste alone leap by over 50% in the last two years.

To tackle the problem, Essex County Council is set to announce changes to the way sites will operate in the future, to prevent taxpayers footing the bill for business waste, reduce queues for genuine customers and reduce daytime closures. The proposals will be scrutinised by Councillors before any changes are introduced.

By law, Council run recycling centres are only for use by residents bringing in household waste from their own property. Businesses exploiting these public facilities to avoid paying waste disposal costs have pushed Essex County Council to introduce new rules to ensure that queues, congestion and site safety are improved for residents. Business waste of any kind is strictly prohibited from all Essex recycling centres.

Legislation does not count DIY and construction waste as household waste. The legal rule of thumb is that household waste covers things which a householder would normally take with them when they move house. If the waste is something you would leave behind, like doors, a fitted kitchen or bathroom, or soil and hardcore, it is construction waste. 

The current plan to improve the operation of recycling centres means that from the 31st October, about half of the county’s sites will also no longer allow vans or multi-axle trailers in and will no longer offer any disposal facilities for DIY and construction waste.

The remaining sites will still offer access to residents disposing of their waste who only have access to a commercial type vehicle, but will place strict limits on how much DIY waste can be disposed of.  Vans and pick-ups will be under greater scrutiny though, and those identified as bringing in waste from any kind of business activity will be refused entry and owners may be liable to prosecution.

Councillor Simon Walsh Cabinet Member for Waste and Environment said: “The taxpayer cannot continue to pick up the bill for businesses which don’t dispose of their waste properly. These operational changes will stop people unlawfully disposing of business and trade waste at recycling centres at the expense of the taxpayer, whilst still providing the facility for residents to dispose of their legitimate DIY waste when carrying out ad-hoc work at home themselves.”

Residents who are unsure about whether to take waste to a recycling centre, or whether they will need to rent a skip for larger home improvement projects after 31 October, should check the Recycle for Essex website before heading to their local site.