A groundbreaking initiative has been unveiled aimed at assisting Leeds residents in steering clear of unscrupulous waste disposal operatives who unlawfully dump refuse, leaving unwitting residents facing substantial fines.

As alarming statistics lay bare the extent of the issue, with estimates suggesting that as many as 60% of waste carriers could be flouting the law, Leeds City Council has introduced the Leeds Accredited Waste Carrier Scheme (LAWCS). The scheme is designed to empower Leeds residents to identify reputable, legal, and responsible waste removal services.

Although fly-tipping rates in Leeds have shown a consistent decline over recent years, residents are being cautioned against the potential hazards of engaging with unlicensed waste disposal providers.

According to a report by Material Focus, over half of those offering waste disposal services in the city could be operating outside the law, clandestinely dumping waste in rural lanes, alleyways, and public parking areas, thereby not only blighting the landscape but also attracting vermin and fostering antisocial behaviour.

Opting for an unlicensed waste carrier may also expose residents to substantial penalties, as everyone bears a legal obligation to dispose of waste responsibly. In the past year alone, a dozen individuals in Leeds faced prosecution for engaging unlicensed carriers.

One such case involved a resident of Farnley who, having paid £150 to a waste collector sourced via Facebook, subsequently found their waste illegally dumped. When questioned by the Serious Environmental Crime Team, the resident was unable to provide details of the waste collector and had neglected to verify their licensing status.

As a result, they were slapped with a £200 fine, which, compounded by subsequent legal costs and victim surcharges, totalled over £1,000.

Moreover, over the past year, the Council has taken decisive action by scrapping ten vans linked to fly-tipping activities.

With the introduction of LAWCS, residents now have access to a comprehensive list of accredited waste carriers, all of whom have undergone rigorous background checks and vetting procedures. These checks include intelligence-sharing initiatives with law enforcement agencies and other local authorities, ensuring that accredited carriers meet stringent criteria before being granted official status.

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council’s executive member for climate, energy, environment and green space, said: “We’re thrilled to be launching this new scheme to support everyone in Leeds to easily find a trustworthy and legal business to remove their waste and not fall foul of the law.

“I’m proud of the work we’re doing to combat fly tipping in Leeds, showing a zero-tolerance approach to all environmental crime.

“With the LAWCS, we hope to shrink the marketplace for illegal waste carriers that contribute to fly-tipping and make it easy for people to fulfil the duty of care to dispose of their waste correctly.

“Please think twice about just hiring anyone from social media to take away your home or garden waste. If you see a local business offering services, check to see if they’ve got the accredited waste carrier logo and check their details at www.leedsdirectory.org/lawcs.

“If you’re a responsible waste carrier, we’d be glad to have you join this free scheme that puts your checked and vetted business in contact with local customers.”

For further information on LAWCS and registration details, visit https://www.leedsdirectory.org/lawcs/.