Monoworld Ltd admitted sending mixed waste to Germany and China without the prior written notification and consent of the authorities.
Northampton magistrates fined the Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire company £10,000 and ordered it to pay full Environment Agency costs of £13,745.
Headed for China and Germany
The court heard that Monoworld Ltd arranged shipment of waste from its sister company’s site Monoworld Recycling at Rushden in Northamptonshire and in 2013 illegally tried to ship to the two countries.
The Germany consignment was stopped by Dutch authorities and the China consignment was detected by Environment Agency officers in a routine inspection at the Port of Felixstowe.
Directors of both companies are the same and the company was convicted in 2004 for 10 similar offences under earlier transfrontier shipment regulations and for keeping waste without a waste management licence.
And in 2012 the company was issued a formal warning for a similar breach of the regulations when two containers of waste electrical and electronic equipment were destined for Hong Kong.
Mrs Miriam Tordoff told magistrates that the ‘recycled’ plastic waste returned by Holland was contaminated with metal cans, food trays, aerosol cans and wood amongst other items and it smelt. There were also flies and some of the waste was a year old.
Agency investigators found there was no proper contract or financial guarantee between Monoworld Ltd and the German company where the waste was headed. Monoworld declined an interview with the Agency.
The shipment bound for China was also found to contain plastics contaminated with decomposing plant leaves, latex gloves, wood, cans and cable as well as pockets of polluting brown liquid. Rodent droppings and mould could also be detected.
In one container there were crushed wheelie bins that had not even been cleaned out, Mrs Tordoff told the court. She said waste should be baled separately for export.
The company declined an interview with the Agency.
Mrs Tordoff said:
All the waste was dirty and odorous and contained non-plastic wastes which could easily have been sorted and cleaned before shipment.
The court heard that enforcement notices under the TFS Regulations were served on both Monoworld Ltd and Monoworld Recycling in December 2013 and reissued in March 2014 after the offences came to light. They required the companies to introduce written management systems for the export of waste. Mrs Tordoff said they had since been complied with.
Proceedures not followed
Mrs Tordoff said:
The procedures the company had in place before the offences did not specifically comply with TFS regulations but in any event were not followed.
It was only in response to an enforcement notice served by the Environment Agency that an adequate management system was put in place.
Mitigating for the company Ms Georgie Messent said Monoworld Ltd accepted there had been serious procedural failings but that the company had taken steps to address that with a £9.8 million investment in new sorting lines and a new recycling facility at the Rushden site.
Sentencing the company, the Chair of the Magistrates said the offences were at best negligent and at worst deliberate. Considering all the facts the company’s actions were reckless.
After the hearing Environment Agency officer Liz Williams said:
We carry out inspections at ports to ensure waste rules are being followed and the law is clear there are rules to follow when exporting waste for recycling.
Waste needs to be described accurately at all stages of the process so that everyone knows what they are dealing with.
She said the export of waste without the proper authorization and controls undermined legitimate business.
Monoworld Ltd pleaded guilty to:
1) On or about 1 July 2013, and by virtue of Article 3(1)(b) of the European Waste Shipment Regulation EC 1013/2006, you transported mixed waste from Monoworld Recycling Facility, Saunders Lodge Industrial Estate, Rushden, Northamptonshire to Tönsmeier factory, Veolia Umweltservice West GbmH, Rottst. 12, 44653 Herne, Germany without the competent authority of dispatch having been notified in accordance with Article 4 of the said European Regulation.
Contrary to Regulations 19(2)(a) and 58 of the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007
2) On or about 7 October 2013, and by virtue of Article 37(5) of the European Waste Shipment Regulation EC 1013/2006, you transported mixed waste to China, a country to which the OECD decision does not apply, without the procedure of prior written notification and consent of Article 35 of the said European Regulation
Contrary to Regulations 23B(2) and 58 of the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007