26 June 2020 by Robyn White

Latvia to repatriate ‘illegal’ UK waste

The Environment Agency is working with its counterpart in Latvia into an investigation into possible illegal waste exports from the UK.

State Environment Service for Latvia has indicated it will repatriate 549 tonnes of waste “imported from Great Britain”.

According to a statement from the Latvian Environment Service, known as VVD,  Latvian materials recycling company, Why Recycle, imported the waste from “various companies in Great Britain” between 25 May to 16 June 2020.

Why Recycle told letsrecycle.com yesterday (25 June) that it is unable to comment as an investigation into the waste is underway with the Environment Agency.

A picture from the Latvian authorities appears to show the waste being made up of municipal plastic (picture: Latvian Environment Service)

Poland

The statement from the VVD explained it managed to stop the  imports, consisting of plastic and rubber, “in cooperation with the competent authorities of Poland”.

The VVD said it carried out an inspection on “possible illegal transboundary waste shipments” and has “started to take measures” to repatriate the waste.

Why Recycle does have a valid permit for storing or temporarily sorting municipal waste, but not to manage the plastic and rubber waste, according to the Latvian regulator.

The VVD alleged that the waste had been imported into the country without receiving the approval from the body prior to the importations, and “did not comply with the internally established conditions for cross-border waste shipments.”

Documents

It has also been claimed by the VVD that the cargo’s accompanying documents provide incorrect information, namely, “a poorly sorted mixture of municipal waste is assigned to plastic waste”.

The VVD also claimed that the company had not complied with the conditions of the issued polluting activity permit, as it had improperly managed the waste. The company was reported to have stored municipal waste in an unauthorised place, which the VVD said created a “danger to the surrounding environment by polluting and littering”.

The company may not carry out any further activities with the waste until the VVD and the Environment Agency give further instructors.

“We are working with the Latvian authorities to investigate the circumstances around these particular exports”

Environment Agency spokesperson

According to the Latvian authorities, waste can only be imported to Latvia to recovery facilities that have “adequate capacity” and a permit for the recovery of the waste, and shipments of non-classified waste can only take place subject to prior written notification and consent.

Environment Agency

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We are working with the Latvian authorities to investigate the circumstances around these particular exports, and will take appropriate action to hold those responsible to account should there be any evidence of wrong-doing – and to ensure any illegally exported waste is repatriated to the UK.”

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