Biffa Waste Services has been ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £590,000 after having been found guilty of breaching waste export regulations over the export of mixed paper to China in 2015.
The penalty, which includes a £350,000 fine and £240,000 in costs, comes at the conclusion of legal proceedings between the waste management company and the Environment Agency which brought the charges to court. The sentence was passed by His Justice Lord Auerbach at Wood Green Crown Court today (27 September) after Biffa was found guilty by a jury in June.
The Environment Agency’s prosecution centred on seven containers of material marked as ‘mixed paper’ which were being exported to two paper mills in China, which were sorted at Biffa’s Edmonton MRF in north London.
The Agency alleged that the material within the containers had levels of contamination which brought them into contravention of the 2007 Transfrontier Shipment Regulations.
According to the Environment Agency investigators found evidence of contamination including nappies and sanitary products contained within bales, which were inspected at Felixstowe Port.
Biffa had argued that it had not been given sufficient guidance from the Agency over permissible outthrow levels for the material, as well as stating that the material inspected had been consistent with that sought by Chinese mills at the time.
Biffa pleaded not guilty to the two charges, and was handed £175,000 for each charge.
The company is due to face separate charges in a case relating to the export of waste recyclables to India and Indonesia in late 2018 and early 2019. A trial is due to take place at Wood Green Crown Court in June 2020.
A statement from Biffa is expected shortly.