Laura Sharman 30 September 2019

Biffa fined for £350,000 over contaminated China shipment

Waste management firm Biffa has been fined £350,000 for trying to send contaminated household waste to China.

In June, the company was found guilty of breaching waste exports regulations between May and June 2015.

It has now been fined £350,000 and ordered to pay costs of £240,000 and a further £9,912 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The Environment Agency prevented seven 25-tonne containers from being sent to China after discovering they contained items such as soiled nappies, plastic bottles and electric cables even though they were marked as waste paper.

Malcolm Lythgo, head of waste at the Environment Agency, said: ‘We are pleased with the court’s decision. We want all producers and exporters of waste to be responsible and make sure they only export material that can be legally and safely exported for recycling overseas.

‘Illegal waste export blights the lives and environment of those overseas. We continue to treat illegal waste exports as a priority and will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those found to break the rules.’

A spokesperson for Biffa said: 'We strongly contested this case and have made an application for leave to appeal the verdict of June 20, 2019.

'Due to the lack of reprocessing capacity, the UK and Europe is reliant on the export market for recycled paper and cardboard. This case related to contamination levels in seven containers of mixed paper that were due for export to China over four years ago.

'At that time China was a core market for UK exported materials for recycled paper and cardboard, and Biffa was a key supplier to some of the largest, best-invested cardboard mills in China. These mills were all accredited by the EA as being of an equal or higher environmental standard as mills within the UK and Europe and all our materials were regularly inspected by customs in China and by a Chinese Inspectorate regime based in the UK prior to shipping.'

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