The amount of rubbish that is being illegally dumped in England has increased by 20% since last year, according to the latest government figures on the problem. Over the last year, there have been over 750,000 separate instances of flytipping reported.
This recent increase in flytipping marks a serious step back. Flytipping, which had been on the decline, has now returned to well above its 2010 levels. The problem is at its worst in London, but all parts of England have been affected by a problem that is both unsightly and environmentally harmful.
Rubbish has been found dumped on quiet alleyways in towns, along major roads and peaceful public footpaths, and even on once pristine farmland. About two thirds of what is dumped is domestic waste, including large items such as sofas and mattresses, as well as general household junk. This works out as one instance of flytipping for every 39 households.
It is likely that a lot of this domestic waste was dumped by ordinary people as a one-off, but there have been some cases of individuals accepting payment to dispose of household waste and then simply dumping it rather than taking the waste to the proper disposal site. These cases highlight the importance of dealing with a reputable company when arranging rubbish removals. It also shows how important it is for councils to consider how their waste services can be improved to encourage more people to dispose of their rubbish safely, and what educational measures might be taken to convince potential flytippers to get rid of their waste in a more responsible manner.
Reducing flytipping and the problems it causes is very important. Flytipping is not just an aesthetic problem. It can also be seriously harmful for our health and for the environment, particularly when hazardous materials that need to be disposed of very carefully are left lying around. The cost of dealing with discarded waste is also serious. Our councils are now spending 24% more on clearing up flytipped waste and on prosecuting those who dumped it. This adds up to a total cost of £45.2 million across England, all of which would be unnecessary if people took more care of their waste.