A London waste company was fined £30,000 yesterday after attempting to illegally export maggot-infested household waste to India.
Community Waste Ltd, of Earls Court in London, was also ordered to pay £13,000 in costs by Maidstone Crown Court after pleading guilty to illegally exporting shipments of unsorted household waste to India in breach of the Transfrontier Shipments of Waste Regulations at an earlier hearing. The company was given 14 days to pay the £30,000 fine and costs.
The court heard that on 13 and 14 October 2005 three Environment Agency officers and two Scottish Environmental Protection Agency officers visited Thamesport, in Kent, and inspected 11 40-foot containers, which were due to be shipped to India. These 11 containers were labelled as containing paper waste and were due to be shipped by Community Waste Ltd to an address in India.
But when they inspected the containers, officers found that Community Waste Limited had not sorted or separated the waste into separate waste streams and had not removed any non-recyclable material.
Instead of paper they found cardboard, tins, plastic bottles, packaging, dog food cans, nappies, plastic flower pots, toothpaste tubes and yoghurt tubs, glass, metals, and textiles. Two of the containers also contained maggots. Two containers inspected on the 14 October, also labelled as paper waste, appeared to contain council-collected rubbish and one of the containers was infested with maggots. All 11 containers were banned from being exported because they illegally contained a mixture of waste.
The Environment Agency is responsible for enforcing the regulation of shipments of waste into and out of England and Wales under the Waste Shipment Regulations. Under the rules, it is illegal to export waste for disposal, but it can be sent abroad for recycling, if it is sorted properly and the destination country wishes to accept it.
The documents all showed the exporter as Community Waste Ltd, based in Earls Court Square, London, and the importer as a company in India. The waste originated in Nottinghamshire.
Regulatory waste officer Dr Helen Ahmed said: “We are delighted with the fine imposed on the company by the court, which reflects the seriousness of the offence – in his summing up the judge highlighted the potential damage that illegally shipped waste can cause to the environment and the people who would have had to deal with the waste in India.
“Mixed municipal waste is subject to stricter controls under the EU Waste Shipment Regulations, which mean that the Environment Agency needs prior notification of proposed shipments so that they can approve them before they go abroad.
“This successful prosecution shows that we won't hesitate to pursue companies who export waste illegally. There is a legitimate and growing market abroad for recyclables, but there are rules covering waste exports.
“While we don't apportion any blame to the councils involved, everyone has a duty to ensure their waste is being dealt with in the proper fashion by a reputable and licensed company.”