Businessman spends £300k of own money building fly-tipping app to help government solve nationwide issue

Rebecca Speare-Cole
Founder Martin Montague aims to clear up the country: ClearWaste

A businessman was so fed up with fly-tipping that he decided to spent £300,000 funding a website and app in a bid to solve the nationwide issue.

Software developer Martin Montague has set up ClearWaste, a platform where people can report cases of fly-tipping around the UK.

It comes as illegal rubbish dumping cost taxpayers at least £750 million last year and had disastrous impacts on the environment.

ClearWaste, which launched at the end of July and already has 10,000 users, aims to both clear up the country and catch those responsible.

Founder Martin Montague aims to clear up the country. (ClearWaste)

In a month, more than 227 cases have been reported through the app in London alone, which is by far the UK’s worst area for illegal rubbish dumping, Mr Montague told the Standard.

The software developer, who made his name as the first person to sell ringtones on the internet, said he grew impatient with local councils and the government neglecting the issue.

"Me and pretty much everyone else in this country are sick of seeing fly-tipped waste,” he said.

“It has really bad environmental impacts in regards to wildlife and public health,” he added. "It also has a huge cost to taxpayers."

Fly-tipped rubbish has become a nationwide problem (ClearWaste)

“The problem is that councils lack the experience to come up with a solution and to work together to find a nationwide one.”

On several occasions over the last few years, Mr Montague - who is not making money from the app and website - said he has been blocked from driving down his road in Swanmore, Hampshire, because rubbish such as fridges, tyres and nappies had been dumped by his home.

On trying to tackle the problem, he said: “It is very difficult to report it on council websites and you end up on hold on the phone for half an hour before being transferred to different departments.

Rubbish illegally dumped in Barnet, London. (ClearWaste)

“The councils often just do not want to hear about it. It is expensive to clear up so they try and make it as difficult for consumers to report. Then the councils can be very slow to do something about it. ”

After months of work, Mr Montague has approached every council in the country and is now plugged into all of their systems.

Around Christmas, he plans to launch two new features. The first will be a reporting tool where users can upload evidence which could lead to punishing the culprits.

Mr Montague said: “We noticed with the reporting app so far that we are getting evidence of people getting caught in the act with photos and videos.

The app was launched in July. (ClearWaste)

“So I’m currently working with councils, trading associations and the police to create this feature which will lead to people being fined or prosecuted.”

The second feature will be a price comparison tool for professional waste disposal services.

Four years ago, Mr Montague paid a service £200 to remove scrap metal and old boxes containing personal information that he had cleared from his garage.

A few days later the council came around and said he risked a fine after it had been illegally fly-tipped nearby. “I did not realise that these scams were so widespread,” he said.

(ClearWaste)

ClearWaste will check that all services listed on their price comparison feature are registered with “Tier 2 licence” to collect and dispose of waste.

"What we are also trying to do here is to educate consumers and stop their stuff getting into the hands of people who fly tip it in the first place,” Mr Montague explained.

And ClearWaste is already getting an incredibly warm reception by the general public, he says.

(ClearWaste)

His promotional video, starring actors John Challis and Emily Head, has more than 411,000 views and 800 shares on Facebook while people have come up to Mr Montague on the street to shake his hand in gratitude.

At the moment, the businessman is spending £18,000 a week to develop the platform and estimates that by Christmas it will have cost him more than £500,000.

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He said: “The reason no one else has done this is because there is no money in it but I wanted to do it anyway.”

The businessmam said he hopes the central government will step in to provide some financial assistance in the future, while he has also been trying to get an appointment with the environment minister.

“But regardless, I will keep going until it’s done because I want to give something back and help solve the problem," he said.

“I'm determined to make a difference no matter the cost and no matter how long it takes.”

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