Volkswagen are looking somewhat beleaguered of late, after being caught engineering cars that cheat on their emissions tests. The “defeat devices” installed in their engines. software detect when a test is taking place, and adjust the engine’s performance to reduce emissions for the duration. 11 million cars, including 8 million in Europe, were fitted with the devices; VW’s push of diesel cars made much of their low emissions and good test scores; the whole affair has highlighted laxity in emissions testing and regulations in the EU. That’s where the example for our industry starts to be set.

As waste managers, our industry is full of red tape and regulation; it’s there for the protection of the environment, and the prevention of damage to personnel and premises alike. There are ways in which things should be done, and ways in which they shouldn’t: you’ll find out about both from our case studies.

As above, so below

Attempts to cheat the system seldom work out, and nobody’s too small to get in trouble. The rules apply to everyone, from domestic septic tank owners to businesses large and small. You might think you’ll get away with it, but flouting the rules has a way of catching up with you. Take the case of Waste4Fuel, a waste management firm which cut every corner imaginable, leaving rubbish to pile up in sites overlooking residential areas across the UK. The Environment Agency were called in time and again – their requests, and later orders, were repeatedly overlooked or outright ignored. Local MPs weighed in across the firm’s London sites. Eventually, the law had to be invoked; arrests were made in March of this year.

Don’t let your waste pile up:…Nobody’s too small to get in trouble…

While a global – or even a nationwide – scandal’s unlikely unless you’re doing things extremely wrong, the smaller implications count. You will be investigated, you may be fined, your customers may find out and stop using you, you’ll get a bad reputation – and then where will you be? Right where Volkswagen are – customer faith in tatters, company leaders resigning to save face, and the brand scrambling to maintain its place in the industry. It?s the same story at a different scale.

The way out

The solution is to be open and act fast. The Environment Agency is a protective body, not a punitive one. Ask them if you’re doing it right and they’ll generally want to help. Leave something for them to discover and they’ll be less impressed. Put your trust in an accredited, experienced firm of waste managers (like us) and they’ll know that you?re making an effort.

If you’re looking over your own shoulder right now, don’t avoid your problems – ask for help. We’re right here.