Two waste firms fined in illegal export case

Two waste companies have been fined £5,000 each after an illegal shipment of mixed waste destined for India was stopped at Felixstowe Port by Environment Agency officers.

In a case heard at Norwich Magistrates Court on Thursday (October 6), Nuneaton-based waste carrier and broker Williams Recycling (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to transporting mixed waste to India without the pre-written notification and consent of the authorities. The company was fined the maximum penalty of £5,000.

The material came from Norwich-based waste paper recycling MW White (Norwich) Ltd, which had described the waste as ‘mixed paper’. MW White pleaded guilty to mis-describing the waste on its waste transfer notes and was also fined the maximum penalty of £5,000.

The companies were also ordered to share full costs, which amounted to £6,655 each.

The waste was in a shipment of 10 containers stopped during a routine inspection by Environment Agency officers in January 2010. In total, 225 tonnes of waste was discovered, much of it very smelly from rotting food and nappies among other waste such as plastic, tin cans and textiles. There was also some waste paper.

Prosecuting, Mrs Miriam Tordoff told the court it would have been difficult to recover waste paper and cardboard in an environmentally sound manner from the non-waste paper items.

“Waste was not sorted or checked before it was loaded,” she said. “Had a procedure been in place to check the waste before loading and transporting, these offences could have been avoided.”

The 10 containers were loaded at a site in Station Road, Ketteringham where MW White operates and Williams Recycling was listed on each of the export delivery notes that went with the containers to Felixstowe Docks as the person arranging the shipment. The company was also listed as the customer on each of the waste transfer notes that White completed for each container.

Basel Convention

Magistrates were told that the Basel Convention of 1992 had been ratified by 172 countries, including the UK and India, to control the growing transfrontier movement of hazardous waste and other waste to protect human health and the environment.

Europe brought in similar legislation in 1993 with similar aims and setting out a system controlling what wastes can be exported outside the EU. The UK ratified the European law in 1994 with the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations, which were subsequently amended in 2007.

These Regulations prohibit the movement of mixed wastes to certain countries, including India, without going through a detailed permission procedure to ensure the waste is dealt with properly. The procedure also requires contracts to be in place, insurance and financial guarantees in case things go wrong.

Duty of Care

The court was also told that under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 there was a duty of care to supply a written description of the waste to enable the person receiving it to avoid committing a waste offence. MW White transferred waste within 10 shipping containers without providing an accurate description of their contents.

Paul White, managing director of MW White, told investigating officers that waste was collected from local authorities, businesses, schools and charities. He accepted that the company had not made any checks on the suitability of the waste to be exported.

Susan Williams, sole director of Williams Recycling, told officers she was expecting the material to be mixed waste paper and no-one had looked at the waste before it was loaded.

Charges

The exact details of the charges the two companies pleaded guilty to are as follows:

M W White (Norwich) Ltd:

1.        Between 12 January 2010 and 19 January 2010 you, being a person who keeps and treats controlled waste, failed to comply with the Duty of Care imposed by Section 34(1) and (5) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in that on the transfer of such waste, you failed to ensure that there was transferred such written description of the waste as would have enabled other persons to avoid a contravention of Section 33 of the said Act and to comply with the Duty under Section 34(1) of the said Act as respects the escape of waste.

Contrary to section 34(1)(c)(ii) and (6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990

Williams Recycling (UK) Ltd:

1.        Between 12 January 2010 and 19 January 2010, and by virtue of Article and 37(5) of the European Waste Shipment Regulation EC 1013/2006, you transported mixed waste, to India, a country to which the OECD decision does not apply, without the procedure of prior written notification and consent of Article 35 of said European Regulation

Contrary to Regulations 23B(2) and 58 of the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007

  • When contacted by letsrecycle.com this morning (October 10), MW White had no comment to make on the case.