Biffa forced to pay over £500,000 for exporting banned waste

1st November 2019

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Lin Wieri

Following an investigation by the Environment Agency, Biffa Waste Services Ltd has been ordered to pay £599,912 for breaching waste exports regulations.

In June 2019 Biffa was found guilty of sending contaminated household waste, described as waste paper, to China between May and June 2015. Exports of unsorted household recycling waste from the UK to China are banned.

During the investigation, officers prevented seven 25-tonne containers at Felixstowe Port from onward transport to China. Despite being marked as waste paper, the contents included soiled nappies, food packaging, items of clothing, bags of faeces, wood, tin cans, plastic bottles and electric cables.

In September 2019 Wood Green Crown Court heard details about four further charges against Biffa illegally exporting 42 containers of waste collected from households to India and Indonesia between November 2018 and February 2019.

The court fined Biffa £350,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £240,000, plus a further £9,912 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

The Environment Agency has introduced a number of additional measures to tackle illegal exports, including working closely with HMRC to review inconsistencies between customs information and packaging data, and creating an investigations team to target serious offenders.

“Illegal waste export blights the lives and environment of those overseas,“ said the Environment Agency's head of waste, Malcolm Lythgo. “We treat illegal waste exports as a priority and will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those found to break the rules“.

Between 2018 and 2019 the Environment Agency prevented the illegal export of 12,690 tonnes of unsuitable waste. It is working with the government to tighten controls, including increasing monitoring of waste shipments and charging higher fees to improve compliance.

Picture credit: iStock


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