An Environment Agency crackdown on illegal electrical waste processing should serve as a warning to businesses across the UK, say recycling experts.
In a case this month the owner of Kent scrap metal haulier Scrapco Metal Recycling was ordered to pay £26,600 after pleading guilty to illegally accepting and processing electrical and metal waste.
In the prosecution brought by the Environment Agency, Ricky Hunn was fined £20,000 under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2007 for processing the waste without an environmental permit.
The case follows an earlier investigation by the Agency which saw four companies and 11 individuals charged over the alleged illegal export of electrical waste.
Simon Walsh, co founder of ShP Limited which recycles electricals on behalf of businesses across the UK, said:
"If electrical equipment isn’t disposed of properly, the hazardous substances they contain such as mercury and lead, can have disastrous consequences for the environment. It’s only right the Environment Agency is cracking down on businesses that ignore the rules. If you’re a business with old electricals, make sure you give them to reputable recycling firms.
"If you hand goods over to firms that don’t recycle in line with the WEEE Directive, you could be liable for thousands of pounds in fines. This case shows the Environment Agency is taking the Directive very seriously and businesses in all sectors must sit up and listen."
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive) was introduced into UK law in January 2007. It aims to reduce the amount of electrical and electronic equipment being produced and encourage everyone to reuse, recycle and recover it.
Scrapco was also fined £3,000 under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for failing to provide a written description of the waste and ordered to pay costs of £3,600.