A joint commitment has been announced by the waste and recycling sector’s professional membership and trade bodies to tackle modern slavery, forced labour and human trafficking across the industry.
The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and the Environmental Services Association (ESA) have pledged to work together to raise awareness and understanding of the issues, setting out clear codes of practice and sharing intelligence, guidance and best practice.
The organisations believe modern slavery is a “serious and growing issue” and the resources and waste sector is being targeted by those involved in illegal activities linked to slavery, forced labour and human trafficking.
The sector is a major UK employer, maintaining more than 120,000 jobs – 0.3% of total UK workforce – and despite operating in a highly regulated environment, with increasingly robust employment policies, CIWM and ESA add the industry embodies a number of characteristics that can be exploited by criminal activity.
That includes high levels of sub-contracting and the employment of low-skilled temporary workers who often originate from outside the UK.
Sarah Poulter, CEO of CIWM said: “Issues as complex as modern slavery can only be addressed through meaningful collaborative and cross-sector working.
“The UK waste and recycling sector has developed some of the most robust employment practices found anywhere in the UK but there is always more that we can do. Both CIWM and ESA have been committed to addressing this issue for some time now and a crucial first step was to recognise that we work in an industry where this can be a problem and to promote honest and open dialogue. We look forward to working with ESA and our members to implement effective working practices that will protect both the people and businesses delivering this vital service.”