Biffa, the UK’s leading sustainable waste management business, has today launched a campaign in partnership with charity Hope for Justice, to raise awareness of modern slavery in the waste sector in the run up to National Anti-Slavery Day on 18th October.
The campaign sees Biffa waste collection trucks re-branded to highlight Biffa’s ‘Zero-Tolerance to Modern Slavery’ approach, sending a powerful message to the company’s customers, employees, communities, suppliers and most importantly to traffickers, that Biffa is doing everything it can to tackle the issue. Ten of these trucks will be deployed in locations where the risk of modern slavery is particularly prevalent, namely London, Peterborough, Birmingham, Newcastle and Manchester.
Unfortunately, the waste sector is particularly attractive to the perpetrators of modern slavery and trafficking. Biffa itself became acutely aware of modern slavery in the past after being targeted by traffickers through unwitting managed service suppliers, but quickly spotted there was an issue and worked with the labour provider and Hope for Justice to address the problem. Since then, Biffa has made great strides to protect itself from any further modern slavery penetration and has even set itself the target to become the acknowledged leader in anti-slavery practices within the UK waste sector by 2025.
In 2018, Biffa became a founding member of the Slave-Free Alliance, an initiative by Hope for Justice, which aims to bring businesses together to work towards slave-free supply chains. This included a full risk assessment of the business. Further initiatives Biffa has introduced to ensure it protects itself includes its stringent ‘Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Policy and Procedure,’ which applies to the business’s operations and recruitment process. To further ensure there is full understanding of the approach across Biffa, as of 2020 all relevant employees in the business receive training on modern slavery prevention. To support this there is also a guidebook to help staff spot the different types of modern slavery, including how to follow-up and report concerns.
Commenting, Michael Topham, Chief Executive at Biffa, said:
“Sadly, modern slavery is a growing problem across the world and the criminals perpetrating it are known to target the waste management industry with forced labour. As Biffa is a leading business in the sector employing over 8,000 people, we want to be at the forefront of tackling modern slavery in our industry. Along with embedding anti-slavery policies and procedures across our business, we feel that part of our responsibility is to raise awareness of the issue of modern slavery in our sector. Our latest campaign sends a powerful message that we are taking a proactive approach to combat modern slavery and will take a zero-tolerance approach to this sort of activity.”
Hannah Symons, Corporate and Supporter Relations Manager at Hope for Justice, said:
“At Hope for Justice, we believe that awareness leads to action – so it is fantastic to see Biffa taking such highly visible steps to show that it has zero tolerance to modern slavery and to educate the wider public about the realities of this brutal yet hidden crime. We hope many people will see these branded waste collection trucks and go online to www.hopeforjustice.org/signs to learn how to spot the main indicators of modern slavery in their communities, and what to do about it if they do suspect something. More than half of the victims we have helped as a charity first came to our attention because someone who used our resources decided to get in touch having seen something that concerned them.”
Biffa’s commitment to creating an environment free from modern slavery is embedded in its sustainability strategy, Resourceful, Responsible, as part of one of its three key pillars: ‘Caring for our people, supporting our communities.’ More can be read about Biffa’s anti-slavery work can be found in its Modern Slavery Statement.