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Minister unveils new plans that will help Welsh Government lead the fight against illegal waste exporters and waste crime

Gweinidog yn datgelu cynlluniau newydd a fydd yn helpu Llywodraeth Cymru i arwain y frwydr yn erbyn allforwyr gwastraff anghyfreithlon a throseddau gwastraff

Climate Change Minister Julie James has today revealed plans to transform the waste industry in Wales, making it easier to crack down on illegal exports and on waste crime.

The Minister confirmed the Welsh Government will jointly consult with the other UK nations on a digital waste tracking service.

The tracking service would make it mandatory for those handling waste to record information about what happens to it, from the point it is produced to the point it is reused, recycled, or disposed. 

Minister for Climate Change Julie James said:

“Wales is a global leader when it comes to recycling, and today’s announcement is a further example of how we are taking action to move to a circular economy”

“Introducing a mandatory digital waste tracking service will greatly improve transparency in the waste sector and it will crucially also support our action to get maximum value from the materials we collect.

“This will help businesses to comply with their duty of care with regards to waste and help them make more informed choices about how their waste is managed. 

“It will also give businesses the information they need to identify and unlock the full potential value of waste materials, by replacing raw materials with recycled material and providing confidence in supply chains for new innovative solutions.

“Our aim is for the service to also provide annual information on industrial, commercial, construction and demolition waste produced in Wales to replace the current periodic surveys.”

Notes to editors

The number of reported waste crime incidents received in Wales has increased by 29% between 2018 and 2020.

The trend shows increase continuing, and half year 2021 figures already exceed number received in 2018 (this data is due to be updated for whole 2021 soon but currently only covers the first 6 months). 

NRW take more than 300 enforcement actions per year against waste operators in Wales, this includes both illegal and regulated activities (such as compliance breaches for waste permits). 

Number of waste prosecutions – total of 69 waste charges prosecuted since 2016 (this is total charges, so may be multiple charges in one case). 


The Joint Unit for Waste Crime brings together agencies from across the UK, including the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, the police, HMRC, the British Transport Police and the National Crime Agency.  Through shared intelligence and enforcement, the Joint Unit is identifying, disrupting and deterring criminals and making them pay for the damage they have done to communities and the environment.

NRW’s second State of Natural Resources Report 2020 (SoNaRR2020) states accurately tracking waste movements will strengthen compliance, reduce administration and increase transparency allowing targeted action to tackle waste crime more efficiently and effectively. It adds, the cost of waste crime to the Welsh economy was estimated to be between £15.2 and £32.4 million in 2015/16.

It is acknowledged the threat from waste crime is increasing and the Welsh Government is funding a dedicated team within NRW to tackle waste crime. 

As part of their work, NRW is implementing a Waste Crime Action Plan, which includes action to improve the existing registration of waste carriers regime.