Companies that illegally export recyclable waste were today(Thursday) warned by the Environment Agency that they risk
prosecution. The warning comes after Grosvenor Waste Management Ltd (GWM), who handle household recyclable waste from London and the Home Counties, were today (Thursday) fined in total £55,000 at Maidstone Crown Court for illegally exporting household waste destined for developing countries in South East Asia. John Burns, Environment Agency Ports Project Manager said: “This is one of the largest cases if its kind and shows we won't hesitate to pursue companies who export waste
“There is a legitimate and growing market abroad for recyclables, but there are rules covering waste exports and these need to be adhered to for the benefit of the environment here and abroad.” GWM pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court in February 2007 to six counts relating to illegally exporting shipments of around 95 40-foot containers, amounting to approximately 1.8 million kgs (the equivalent of 90 lorries full of waste) of unsorted household waste to India, China, and Indonesia.
The Environment Agency is responsible for enforcing the regulation of shipments of waste into and out of England and Wales under the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations.
Mr Burns continued: “Under the rules, it's illegal for anyone to export waste for disposal, but items such as waste paper or glass can be sent abroad for recycling.
“However, mixed municipal waste, is subject to stricter controls under the EU Waste Shipment Regulations which means
that we and the country of destination need to be notified and approve the shipment before it can go abroad. “The waste Grosvenor was sending abroad contained a poorly sorted mixture of waste including nappies, food waste, textiles, cardboard, plastic drink bottles, tin cans, sealed Council recycling bags, and black plastic bags.
“Environment Agency officers inspecting the containers detained at Southampton and Dutch officers inspecting the containers detained in Holland all recalled the waste as
smelling of household waste. In one container Dutch officers saw what looked like an animal's hind quarter.”
The Environment Agency also served Grosvenor a notice to repatriate the 20 containers that were shipped to Indonesia on 13 June 2005. Despite this request to return the waste to the UK, it ended up being shipped to Malaysia in July 2005. Under the Regulations, the maximum penalty for exporting waste illegally is an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.
GWM pleaded guilty to six breaches of the Transfrontier Shipments of Waste Regulations at Maidstone Crown Court and agreed to pay a contribution of £85,000 towards the Environment Agency's costs. The prosecution follows a two- year investigation by the Environment Agency, who worked closely with HM Customs, Indonesian Customs and the Dutch
environmental regulator, VROM, throughout the course of this investigation.