Fly-tipping and unregistered waste carriers in England

An independent study.

Material Focus has funded new research which reveals for the first time the gaps in the system that lead to the high incidences of fly-tipping in the UK.

Evidence gathered shows that the existing carrier, broker and dealer (CBD) regime does not function effectively and is also being misused. The research estimated that nearly two-thirds (63%) of businesses, 238,741 individuals or organisations in England, that are offering to handle waste when advertising their services appear to be unregistered. Evasion rates for comparative sectors, including some that require similar forms of formal registration, usually fall between 1% and 8% (such as TV licences, car tax evasion, and gas safety). 

The research revealed for the first time strong evidence that a significant challenge within the sector could be connected organised networks of unregistered waste carriers across the UK, as opposed to one-man operators.


The research examined who was advertising waste collection services online in ten UK areas and compared over 4,700 business names to entries in the carrier, broker and dealer (CBD) registration system which determines who can legally move waste. The research also sought the views of an expert panel of stakeholders from academia, the waste industry, and former Government and regulatory officials.

Key findings

  • 1.82 million tonnes of waste was fly-tipped on public land or taken to illegal waste sites  
  • These incidents are estimated to cost the UK £176 million each year in lost landfill tax
  • Fly-tipping can be a serious blight on local environments: a source of pollution; a potential danger to public health; a hazard to wildlife; and a nuisance
  • In 2019/20 fly-tipping incidents and illegal waste sites recorded by the Environment Agency together contributed to over 87,000 tonnes of waste electricals being handled illegally  
  • Records show that there were nearly 1 million recorded instances of fly-tipping on public land in England in 2019/20. The Environment Agency (EA) also dealt with nearly 1,000 organised illegal waste sites on top of this

An Independent Study into Fly-tipping and Unregistered Waste Carriers in England

The report was conducted by Air & Space Evidence and EPR. 88 pages. PDF.

Pile of rubbish left on the side of a path next to hedges, including plastic bags and broken chairs. Cover image for report: An Independent Study into Fly-tipping and Unregistered Waste Carriers in England.