The chair of the Environment Agency, Emma Howard Boyd, has praised the work of the waste industry in helping to address environmental problems, but warned of the impact of crime in the sector.
Mrs Howard Boyd was speaking at a round table discussion this month when she praised waste companies as the ‘unsung heroes of the environmental movement’, as they “make sure that waste ends up in the right place.”
Opening her speech, the Agency chair claimed that due to advances in industry and transport, people have become disconnected from their environmental impacts, contributing to problems such as litter, fly-tipping and marine plastic waste.
But, she added that businesses in the waste sector have an important role to play in helping to address these problems.
She also pointed to the illegitimate businesses and individuals seeking to profit from improper waste practices, echoing recent comments by the Agency’s chief executive comparing waste criminals to the mafia.
She said: “Waste crime is increasingly organised, involving career criminals engaged in sophisticated fraud.
“It involves illegal exports, fly-tipping and burning of waste, as well as tax avoidance.
“It is no coincidence that organised waste crime is also deeply implicated in the incidence of modern slavery in the UK.”