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Business

UK firm fined for exporting rubbish as waste paper to India, Indonesia

Representative image (iStock)

By: Shilpa Sharma

BRITISH waste company, Biffa, has been fined £1.5 million for exporting household waste marked as waste paper for recycling to India and Indonesia.

In July, a judge at Wood Green crown court convicted the company of sending more than 1,000 tonnes of household waste to the two countries, thus breaching a ban on sending such waste to developing countries, the Guardian reported.

The company had sent about 50,000 tins, 40,000 plastic bags, 25,000 items of clothing, 3,000 nappies – and even a frying pan, condoms and a souvenir New York T-shirt along with other items as waste paper for export to Asia in Biffa’s recycling facility in Edmonton, north London, between 2018 and 2019.

The company has been fined for the second time in two years for exporting household waste to a non-Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country.

Biffa said the prosecution brought by the Environment Agency had not been in the public interest. However, after the sentence, it removed that statement from its website.

Judge Shane Collery QC told Wood Green crown court Biffa had shown no remorse. He found the company’s previous comments about the Environment Agency as “aggravating and unattractive”.

Biffa told the Guardian: “We take our responsibility for environmental stewardship very seriously and we accept the court’s judgment. We no longer export waste paper outside the OECD and will carefully review our processes to ensure they fully meet the implications of this judgment.”

Malcolm Lythgo, the head of waste regulation at the Environment Agency, said: “Biffa shipped banned materials to developing countries without having systems in place to prevent the offences. The Environment Agency will pursue those who blight the lives of overseas communities through illegal exports. This guilty verdict underlines that anyone producing or handling waste must only export material legally and safely for recycling.

“The Environment Agency stopped the illegal export of almost 23,000 tonnes of unsuitable waste in 2019-20. We have stepped up increased monitoring of international waste shipments.”

During the recent trial, jurors were told of Biffa’s rolling monthly contracts worth a combined £39,500 to move the household waste to India or Indonesia.

The company was convicted of four breaches of regulation 23 of the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007 between October 2018 and April 2019.

Besides the £1.5m fine, Biffa was ordered to pay costs of £153,827.99, and a proceeds of crime order of £38,388.

Eastern Eye

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