The True Cost of Fly Tipping in the UK


Fly-tipping, whether it’s an old fridge freezer that the local tip won’t take or a few extra bin bags that you can’t fit in the dustbin, may not seem like much and you might justify it as a one-off, but the truth is fly-tipping costs local authorities hundreds and thousands of pounds to clear up every year.

It’s estimated that the total cost of clearing up the 744,000 incidents of fly-tipping in the UK cost £37.4 million! That’s a huge expenditure when there are many ways to deal with excess waste, many of which are already funded by the government and local councils.

From the waste that is recovered, a huge 67% of it is general household waste that any local refuse recycling site would take off your hands for free. The next most commonly tipped type of waste is construction or demolition rubble, this is generally tipped by people undertaking home refurbishment projects who don’t want to pay on skip hire or builders who can’t afford the added expense of waste disposal. Green and garden waste, waste electrical equipment, white goods, and even old tires are also commonly fly-tipped, to save the hassle or expense of recycling items that are no longer wanted.

Environmental Impact

Fly-tipping is not just a resource-draining, costly eyesore; it also has a massive detrimental impact on the surrounding environment. Many of the objects tipped every year, including types and waste electronics, are tipped because they are more difficult to dispose of – because they represent a risk. Whether this risk is of pollution to local wildlife (as many popular fly-tipping locations are natural areas that have little or no traffic or monitoring) or a risk to human health, especially if the waste is hazardous or tipped in or near water.

Even green or garden waste can be detrimental to an already established ecosystem, as it can provide a breeding ground for vermin and pests, and may also introduce common garden weeds that could take over the area, suffocating the plants naturally found there.

Your Responsibility

Fly-tipping encourages more fly-tipping. So if you drive past an area with an old sofa dumped, the next day there’s likely to be an old TV and a few bags of rubbish and before you know it – there will be a whole heap of waste!

So even if you justify it by saying ‘it’s a one-off,’ you’re broken fridge will quickly accumulate more and more waste until the council gets around to removing it.

And if the pollution, cost, or unsightly nature of fly-tipping isn’t enough to put you off – there’s another deterrent that could cause concern – it’s a criminal offense punishable with a maximum £50,000 fine or five years imprisonment under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act.

The best solution is to contact your local council and ask for advice on the best way to dispose of your waste. If it’s too big or bulky to fit in the dustbin, or if it’s not permitted in general household waste and recycling, there will be another way. Your local refuse amenity site will take most things, and if not a scrap metal dealer or a specialist WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) recycler will be able to help.

If there’s a lot of construction or garden waste from a home refurbishment project, try hiring a skip on a website – the added convenience of having the waste collected from your home and taken away will outweigh the price of the skip hire! And many companies can even arrange for a collection of hazardous waste, with special enclosed skips.