Two married company directors and their company have been ordered to pay £130,000 for illegally exporting 187 tonnes of hazardous electronic waste to 6 African countries between 2011 and 2015. Mark Daniels, one half of the married couple, was also given a 9 month suspended sentence.
The prosecution was brought by the Environment Agency after their officers found 11 shipping containers full of electrical waste destined for Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania – where the waste could cause serious pollution, risking harm to people and the environment.
The BBC’s Panorama programme fitted a hidden tracking device to a broken television and left it at a civic amenity site in south London. The TV was tracked to Daniels Recycling, a waste site in Warrington, and then back down to Felixstowe port, where officers found the TV in a shipping container. It was seized before it was illegally exported. This evidence formed a crucial part of the Environment Agency prosecution case.
These 40-foot containers, each with about 15 tonnes of e-waste inside, had wrapped items at the front, which were made to look like working products. However, further back the container included hazardous cathode ray televisions and broken fridge freezers which were described as second-hand goods but didn’t work.
Waste company Daniels Recycling, based in Slutchers Lane, Warrington, had already been served with an enforcement notice by the Environment Agency. In addition to these 11 containers planned for illegal export, the Environment Agency prosecutors told the court that the company had illegally exported another 186 shipping containers to Nigeria, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Gambia and Togo.
Working electronics can be exported for resale and there is a legitimate market for second-hand goods. But the law is clear – it is always illegal to send hazardous electronic waste from the UK to developing countries. Illegally exported e-waste can end up dumped near to homes and rivers where it is melted down to abstract precious metals - this can cause toxic pollution and serious risks to people’s health.
The company and its directors, Mark Daniels, (51, of Reynolds Street, Warrington) and Lynn Gallop, (52, of the same address) pleaded guilty to shipping the containers illegally.
Mark Daniels was given a 9-month custodial sentence suspended for 2 years and ordered to pay £50,000 Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) and a £20,000 contribution to costs. Daniels Recycling Ltd was fined a total of £25,000 (£5k per offence pleaded to). Lynn Gallop was fined £450, with £25,000 POCA and a contribution to costs of £10,000.
Ezenwa Ogbonnaya and M2 Ventures Limited also pleaded guilty to exporting 6 of the containers, having bought the waste from Daniels Recycling. Sentencing of Mr Ogbonnaya and his company has been adjourned to March 2016.
Andrew Higham, who leads the Environment Agency’s National Environmental Crime Team, said:
The rules governing the exportation of waste electrical equipment are in place for good reason - to protect human life and the environment.
It is illegal to send hazardous waste to developing countries. All organisations handling waste have a responsibility to check they know where their waste is going so it doesn’t end up causing harm to people or the environment.
We urge anyone in the waste industry to help us protect their legitimate business and report any suspicious activity anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.