Biffa Waste Services Ltd., one of the UK’s largest waste management companies, has been convicted of breaking the law on overseas exports.
The Environment Agency prosecuted Biffa for sending household waste, such as used nappies and food packaging, to China, claiming it was waste paper.
The export of unsorted household recycling waste from the UK to China has been banned since 2006.
After a three-week trial, a jury at Wood Green Crown court found Biffa guilty of two breaches of the law in May and June 2015.
Paper can legally be sent to the People’s Republic, but heavily contaminated other wastes are not allowed.
The jury didn’t accept Biffa’s version of events, that consignments leaving its depot in Edmonton four years ago complied with the law because they comprised of waste paper.
According to a 24 June statement by the Environment Agency, evidence gathered by investigators at Felixstowe port, east of England, “clearly identified the contents of seven 25-tonne containers bound for China as including glass, plastics, electrical items and metal.”
Officers who searched the cargo “found everything from women’s underwear and plastic bottles to metal pipes and even a damaged copy of a 12-inch record by 90s chart-toppers Deee-Lite,” the Environment Agency added.
The seven containers were stopped by the Environment Agency from leaving the country.
“The regulations around shipment of waste were brought in to stop the West merely passing the problem to other countries,” said Sarah Mills, an enforcement manager whose team investigated the breaches for the Environment Agency.
Judge Simon Auerbach deferred sentencing until 27 Sept. The court was told the Environment Agency and Biffa had agreed a figure of £9,912 (€11,070) to be paid for proceeds of crime.