A Glasgow businessman has been handed a £675 fine after having pleaded guilty to the attempted export of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) to Nigeria.
Henry Chukwu, director of logistics firm Favour Limited, was handed the sentence at Glasgow Sheriff Court last week (5 January) after a shipment of goods was inspected by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in May 2014.
The inspection was carried out after a container bound for Nigeria was returned to Scotland from Tilbury in Essex, as it was suspected of containing WEEE items.
SEPA alleged that upon inspection, the shipment was found to contain televisions, monitors and PC desktop units which were deemed to be waste as they had incomplete or no safety testing records.
Under the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007, it is illegal to export certain WEEE items for recovery to a country outside of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
A total of 103 appliances contained within the shipment were determined to be waste, according to SEPA. The regulatory body also alleged that during previous interactions with Mr Chukwu, officers had emphasised the importance of having sufficient procedures in place to ensure he did not export waste electrical goods to Nigeria.
As a result of this action, SEPA officers took the decision to refer this case to the Procurator Fiscal for consideration.
Mr Chukwu pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 23 of the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations and was sentenced last week.
Commenting on the case, SEPA’s reporting officer, Matthew Pask said: “The export of waste electrical equipment to Africa can lead to major environmental problems that have been widely reported on. It has the potential to cause significant harm to the environment and human health if the waste is not processed, handled and disposed of in an appropriate manner, as hazardous components such as mercury, lead and other harmful materials within electronic waste have the potential to cause serious pollution to the environment and harm to human health.
“SEPA has a responsibility to ensure waste exports are carried out legally and as this case shows, will use all appropriate steps to ensure exporters comply with the law. Mr Chukwu was given significant advice and guidance from SEPA to ensure exports from his site were compliant and this was not followed.
“SEPA is always available to provide advice and assistance and I hope that this successful prosecution will result in all individuals and businesses involved in the export of waste from Scotland, looking closely at their legal responsibilities to ensure that exports comply with the law.”
Mr Chukwu was contacted by letsrecycle.com for comment, but could not be reached.