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When anti-social behaviour needs a clean-up: part 1

We’re all more aware of anti-social behaviour in the summer, but REACT is on hand with fly-tipping clearance and sharps removal services

REACT Specialist Cleaning carries out fly-tipping clearance and sharps disposal to tackle anti-social behaviour
Anti-social behaviour such as fly-tipping and discarding used needles and sharps has potential health hazards

It’s been a long time coming in 2023, but it finally feels that summer has started as we enjoy some hot weather. Summer should be about making the most of your surroundings, whether that’s at a festival, at a park, or in the greater outdoors. But unfortunately, being outside more means that we see the results of certain anti-social behaviour. That can have consequences. Sometimes it’s about undermining the aesthetics of our environment or damage to buildings. Sometimes, it comes with potential health hazards from discarded items. Over the next two blogs, we’re going to look at how REACT tackles cleaning up after anti-social behaviour in public, commercial, and private spaces. First up, we’ll help you find out about our fly-tipping clearance and sharps removal services.

Fly-tipping is a real problem in search of solutions

Of course, discarded items aren’t just a problem for summer. Government statistics show the UK produced 222.2 million tonnes of waste across all sources in 2018. Given these volumes, it’s no wonder waste disposal is heavily regulated. Illegal dumping of waste fails to use an authorised method, such as kerbside collection or using a council-run waste facility. Such dumping (or fly-tipping) is typically distinguished from littering by the type and amount of material, as well as the way it’s discarded. The government estimates the total cost of fly tipping in the UK at some £400 million a year. Local authorities dealt with 1.09 million fly-tipping incidents in 2021/22 (marginally down from 2020/21, but still 14% higher than 2019/20).

Typical materials dumped include building materials from construction sites (such as drywall, roofing shingles, lumber, brick, concrete, and siding), car parts, household appliances, household waste, furniture, and medical waste. The effects of fly tipping include health, environmental, and economic consequences. Toxins or hazardous materials can infiltrate soil and drinking water, potentially causing short- or long-term health conditions. Illegal dumps pose a physical threat; unstable piles of material and exposed nails threaten harm (often to children who may use illegal dumps as play areas), and they can attract vermin and insects. Outbreaks of fire at illegal dump sites can lead to forest fires, causing erosion and destroying habitat.

Needles and sharps may be small but can have big consequences

Sometimes dumping can take place on a much smaller scale but can still include potentially hazardous biological material. Discarded needles and sharps can represent a severe biohazard risk, especially to children and young people. Even when they’ve been used for legitimate purposes in healthcare settings, it’s still essential to dispose of sharps safely and effectively.

As for carelessly discarded syringes and sharps, they may be dropped alongside major roads, by railway lines, or in empty properties. But of course, you may find them in shared any public spaces such as parks and recreation grounds. (And equally, they may be part of the waste in fly-tipping sites, too). If public spaces become contaminated with used syringes, it’s vitally important to clear the area quickly to ensure the safety of members of the public. After all, the correct collection and disposal of waste is essential to protect the public and the environment from health and safety risks.

How REACT tackles cleaning up after anti-social behaviour

That’s where our fly tipping clearance and sharps removal services come into their own. One key observation when it comes to fly tipping is that waste attracts more waste. So cleaning up existing illegal dumping sites is a helpful deterrent for additional dumping (alongside prevention measures such as gates and other barriers). We provide a nationwide fly tipping clearance service, and we’re available around the clock. We work with local councils, police authorities, and facilities management firms on regular maintenance, call out, and project-defined basis. We’ll provide consignment notes, so our process is clear to the client.

With sharps removal, we follow key critical safety protocols. REACT are fully insured and our specialist operatives are fully trained, vaccinated against all blood-borne viruses, and they use robust procedures to clear affected areas quickly and safely. Once collected, all waste is collected and stored in dedicated, clearly marked, colour-coded sharps bins. We dispose of any sharps and syringes safely, and we provide a certificate of disposal.

REACT hold an Upper Tier Waste Carriers license meaning we are cleared to carry and dispose of a wide variety of waste streams, including hazardous and clinical waste. We provide all our clients with consignment notes for their records, review and for upload to their CAFM systems so they can remain compliant.

Safe disposal left to the specialists

More broadly, the companies across the REACT Group operate to industry-leading standards (including BS-EN-ISO 9001:2018 and ISO14001 for Environmental Management). And as upper-tier licensed waste carriers, we always have a sharp focus on the safe and secure disposal of waste, especially hazardous items. We can also provide comprehensive decontamination services to address any issues in the areas affected by illegal disposal of hazardous materials.

Of course, under the National Waste Strategy, there is a rightful focus on more sustainability in waste management. We and other specialist waste carriers have made progress in moving away from landfill towards recycling. But the correct collection and disposal of biohazardous waste is essential to protecting the public and the environment from health and safety risks. Some illegally dumped waste may require incineration (most notably, sharps and needles).

Whatever the challenge posed by anti-social behaviour, we’ll clear fly tipping or contaminated sites quickly and effectively, so residents and visitors can have clean and safe public spaces to enjoy. But cleaning up after anti-social behaviour isn’t always just about protecting public health. Looking after your environment also involves the experience of looking at it. Next week, we’ll be taking a closer look at how we can clean up after graffiti, spillages, and neglect.

To find out more about REACT Specialist Cleaning and our approach to cleaning up after anti-social behaviour, contact one of the team today.

Post by Sam Haywood

Sam is Group Sales Director of REACT Group plc., a business dedicated to specialist cleaning going beyond the everyday. His focus is on delivering clients with excellent service whatever their cleaning challenges. Sam has a background working in facilities services and facilities management across hard, soft, and M&E services for national accounts and clients.


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