New procurement guidance launched to help crack waste crime

‘Guidance on procuring waste services for public bodies and their contractors: Good practice guidance to prevent crime’ has been published by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Zero Waste Scotland. It was launched last week (17 September) at RWM, a major waste industry event in Birmingham.

Although designed for public bodies the guidance would be useful for anyone involved in procuring waste services, or those bidding for tenders.

The issue of tackling potential criminals in the procurement system was raised as a major issue facing Scotland’s public bodies at the country’s first Waste Crime Conference, held by SEPA in November last year.

Calum MacDonald, Chair of the Scottish Government’s Environmental Crime Taskforce and SEPA Executive Director, said:

“We want to make it difficult for organisations that do not respect environmental regulation or the law to operate in the waste sector. Scotland’s Serious Organised Crime Strategy, launched in June 2015, identifies the waste industry as a target for organised crime groups in Scotland. We have been working closely with our partners to identify and tackle these criminals directly through the sharing of information, resources and joint investigative approaches. We are already beginning to see the benefits of this approach but we recognise that we need to do everything we possibly can to keep criminals out the industry in the first place.

“Our vision is a waste sector free from crime, and where any new criminal activity is rapidly uncovered and rooted out. This will free legitimate operators to undertake work in fair competition with one another, at prices that are reasonable and enable waste services to be carried out in full compliance with all legal obligations.

“Through this guidance we aim to spread the message of the need to be aware of criminality in the waste sector so that it reaches public bodies, private businesses and the community at large. We also aim to provide public bodies with the tools they need to design effective procurement processes that deliver the waste services they require while protecting as far as possible from the risk of awarding contracts to those engaged in crime.”

The document aims to be an easy-to-use, practical workbook for those procuring services – which it does by highlighting ‘red flags’ that may indicate a risk of crime, suggesting wording that can be used in procurement documents, providing best practice checklists and providing advice on what to do if you think something isn’t right.

By following the tips and advice organisations can minimise the risk of a contract being awarded to a criminal – or to an organisation that may, deliberately or otherwise, allow waste to be passed on to criminals.

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“Zero Waste Scotland is keen to ensure both the public sector and reputable resource management companies are protected from the effects of waste crime, which frustrates efforts to work towards a more sustainable resource management system and a more circular economy.

“Harnessing the value of recycling, and developing a more circular economy are among Zero Waste Scotland‘s key priorities. Waste crime prevents public bodies, particularly local authorities, from capitalising on the economic benefits of good resource management and hampers legitimate companies from carrying out their business. We were therefore very pleased to work with SEPA on this guidance for public bodies which will help to protect them from the insidious effects of waste crime. Coupled with our work to develop FlyMapper, which 22 local authorities are now signed up for, to help tackle flytipping, we are providing important support to public bodies to help counteract waste crime.”

Stephen Freeland, Policy Advisor for the Scottish Environmental Services Association, said:

“We welcome efforts by SEPA and Zero Waste Scotland to draw public bodies’ attention to the issue of waste crime.

“Waste crime not only blights the environment and local communities but severely undermines investment made by the legitimate waste management industry.

“It is therefore important that public bodies work in partnership with the waste management industry to enable a strong and vibrant industry to flourish in Scotland, while finding practical ways to reduce opportunities for criminal activity.”

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