Environment Agency officers conducted investigations and discovered seven 25-tonne containers on the verge of leaving Felixstowe, Suffolk, that contained contaminated materials. This included plastic and glass waste, electric cables, metal pipes, nappies and sanitary towels, instead of paper waste – which can be legally transported.
The export of unsorted household recycling waste from the UK to China has been banned since 2006.
Following a three-week trial, Biffa Waste Services Ltd was found guilty of two breaches. The jury didn’t accept Biffa’s argument that its containers were regularly inspected by Chinese customs agents and that firms buying the waste often examined the containers before they were shipped, to make sure they contained paper waste.
The Environment Agency was able to prevent at least some of the seven containers from leaving Felixstowe.