Fly-tipping is illegal, bad for the environment and often a health hazard. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) estimates that clearing fly-tipped rubbish from the streets costs local councils £4 million a month.
Everyone who handles waste, including householders, has a 'duty of care' to do so responsibly. According to DEFRA, household waste (including leftover DIY material and abandoned electrical goods such as fridges) account for half of all fly-tipped rubbish in England. Local councils can tell you the correct way to dispose of your household waste. There is useful guidance in the Waste section under 'Duty of Care'.
As well as uninformed householders, organised criminal gangs carry out fly-tipping, operating illegal waste disposal services for money.
There are different ways of reporting fly-tipping, depending on how much waste has been dumped. For large amounts - if it looks like it was dumped by a lorry - call the Environment Agency's 24-hour hotline, 0800 807060, free from landlines, whether you are in England or Wales. For smaller amounts you need to call your local council (if you call the Environment Agency about the odd sofa or small amounts they will redirect you). Have to hand information on the location of the dumping, what the rubbish might be, where it might have come from and if it's a regular occurrence. Or you can inform the police, especially if you are concerned that a vehicle is being used for fly-tipping.
You can also visit the Fix My Street website, or in Wales, the Fly-tipping Action Wales website (links opposite), where you can report a fly-tipping problem online, and they will pass on the complaint to your local council.
In Scotland, call the Dumb Dumpers hotline, 08452 30 40 90, or use the online reporting form (link opposite) and they will direct your message to SEPA or your local council to deal with.
Local councils have powers to penalise illegal fly-tipping and duty-of-care offences. Fixed penalty notices can be issued if people do not comply with the duty-of-care obligations. They could also be convicted and face up to five years imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both. Further information on fly-tipping is provided in ENCAMS, Fly Tipping and the Law - A Guide for the Public.