SEPA to tackle waste criminality via social media

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has launched a digital regulation pilot to tackle environmental criminality online.

SEPA has reported a significant surge in the proliferation of digital platforms promoting illicit waste collection services, marking a concerning peak in such activities.

According to SEPA, the ongoing digital regulation pilot has unearthed that a substantial portion—estimated between 50 to 60%—of businesses advertising on social media may be operating unlawfully by not possessing the necessary waste carrier licence. This poses serious risks, as individuals engaging with these services unwittingly contribute to activities like flytipping and other forms of waste crime.

In collaboration with partner agencies, the pilot initiative has already resulted in the removal of seven social media profiles and their associated posts from online platforms.

SEPA officers are actively pursuing various investigative avenues following the identification of unlicensed operators online.

Fueled by additional funding from the Scottish government, this pilot forms a crucial component of the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy, aimed at combatting litter and flytipping across Scotland.

SEPA has urged social media users to exercise caution when encountering posts advertising services such as junk removal, waste clearances, “man with a van,” and tip collection. Despite outward appearances of professionalism and legitimacy, SEPA warns that these may not always align with reality.

The Agency has outlined key indicators to watch for online:

  • Offers of cheap or same-day waste collection
  • Claims of being “SEPA insured” (SEPA does not provide insurance)
  • Assertions that waste is recycled wherever possible
  • Sole reliance on direct messaging for communication

Jennifer Shearer, head of enforcement at SEPA, emphasized the growing trend of waste collection and junk removal adverts migrating to social media platforms since the onset of the pandemic. Despite their polished façade, these businesses often operate illegally, lacking the requisite licenses and engaging in environmentally harmful disposal practices.

Through the ongoing pilot program, SEPA aims to enhance detection, disruption, and removal of illegal operators advertising on social media, with a commitment to further enforcement actions as necessary. Additionally, SEPA seeks to empower householders with knowledge on safeguarding themselves and the environment from the adverse impacts of these illegal activities.

Looking ahead, SEPA plans to persist in identifying profiles used for online waste collection services and investigating their legal compliance, thereby gaining deeper insights into the scope of the issue.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *