He says a new regime of targeted inspections will be rolled out and a new ‘Resource Efficiency Directorate’ will be established within the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).
He’s also promised a review of the current legislative framework for waste management.
Mr Durkan said: “We need to use the resources at our disposal much more efficiently in tackling waste crime.
“The waste sector in Northern Ireland is highly vulnerable to criminal infiltration and some of this activity is linked to organised crime.
“That’s why it’s important that I reshape DOE to create a new directorate that will be joined up.
“I also have a detailed action plan in place.
“Key actions will include: a regime of targeted inspections to ensure all waste operators comply with the law; a new partnership with local government so that local councils and NIEA share information, resources and strategies to manage waste properly; innovation partnerships with Northern Ireland businesses to help them stop creating waste and cut costs.
“Further, a new Bill, the Better Regulation Bill, will help us because it will transform our environmental regulatory systems by creating the capacity for the Department to issue one streamlined integrated permit to a business.
“It will also give NIEA uniform inspection powers meaning that an individual officer will be authorised to inspect against all environmental regulations rather than only a limited number as at present. This will mean the same number of NIEA officers will be able to carry out a significantly increased overall number of inspections and in a much more targeted way.
“Tough and effective waste crime enforcement is critical. We must be vigilant and fearless in chasing people who deliberately set out to make money by damaging our environment, our communities and our legitimate businesses through illegal waste dumping, fuel laundering and other forms of waste crime. It is unacceptable and must be eliminated.”
He concluded: “The actions that I have announced today will set in motion a transformation in resource efficiency and waste management in Northern Ireland.”