A Bedfordshire-based plastics and paper recycling firm has been ordered to pay more than £23,000 after attempting to illegally export mixed waste to Germany and China.
Monoworld Ltd, of Sharnbrook, was sentenced at Northamptonshire Magistrates’ Court after the company admitted sending the waste without the prior written notification and consent of the authorities.
The Court heard that Monoworld Ltd arranged shipment of waste to the two countries from its sister company – Monoworld Recycling’s site at Rushden in Northamptonshire in 2013.
However, the Germany consignment was stopped by Dutch authorities and the waste headed for China was detected by Environment Agency officers in a routine inspection at the Port of Felixstowe.
Environment Agency prosecutor Miriam Tordoff told magistrates that the ‘recycled’ plastic waste returned by Holland was contaminated with metal cans, food trays, aerosol cans and wood among other items. Inspectors also found flies and discovered some of the waste was a year old.
Environment Agency investigators found there was no proper contract of financial guarantee between Monoworld Ltd and the German company where the waste was headed.
Meanwhile, the shipment bound for China was also found to contain plastics contaminated with decomposing plant leaves, latex gloves, wood, cans and cable, as well as pockets of polluting brown liquid. Rodent droppings and mould were also detected.
In one container there were crushed wheelie bins that had not even been cleaned out, Mrs Tordoff told the court. She said waste should be baled separately for export.
Mrs Tordoff said: “All the waste was dirty and odorous and contained non-plastic wastes which could easily have been sorted and cleaned before shipment.
All the waste was dirty and odorous and contained non-plastic wastes which could easily have been sorted and cleaned before shipment.
“The procedures the company had in place before the offences did not specifically comply with TFS regulations but in any event were not followed. It was only in response to an enforcement notice served by the Environment Agency that an adequate management system was put in place.”
Directors of both companies are the same and the company was convicted in 2004 for 10 similar offences under earlier transfrontier shipment regulations and for keeping waste without a waste management licence.
Enforcement notices under the transfrontier shipment regulations were originally served on both Monoworld Ltd and its sister firm in December 2013, but were reissued in March 2014 after the offences came to light.
Mitigating for the company, Georgie Messent said Monoworld Ltd accepted there had been “serious procedural failings” but that the company had taken steps to address that with a £9.8 million investment in new sorting lines and a new recycling facility at the Rushden site.
But in sentencing, the chair of the Magistrates said the offence were ‘at best negligent and at worst deliberate’. Monoworld Ltd was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay full Environment Agency costs of £13,745.
When contacted by letsrecycle.com, Monoworld Ltd declined to comment.