Community Waste, of Earls Court, was also ordered to pay £13,000 in costs by Maidstone Crown Court last Thursday (June 21).

The ruling came after it pleaded guilty to exporting shipments of unsorted household waste to India breaching regulations.

Dr Helen Ahmed, regulatory waste officer for the Environment Agency, said afterwards: “We are delighted with the fine imposed on the company by the court, which reflects the seriousness of the offence.

“The judge highlighted the potential damage that illegally shipped waste can cause to the environment and the people who would have had to deal with the waste in India.”

The court heard agency officers visited the port of Thamesport in Kent in October 2005 where they inspected 11 40-foot containers due to be shipped by Community Waste to India.

They were labelled as containing paper waste but on officers found mixed waste and non-recyclable material, including cardboard, tins, plastic bottles, packaging, dog food cans, nappies, plastic flower pots, toothpaste tubes and yoghurt tubs, glass, metals, and textiles.

Two of the containers were infested with maggots.

All 11 were banned from export because they illegally contained a mixture of waste.

Under waste shipment regulations it is illegal to export waste for disposal but it can be sent abroad for recycling if it is sorted properly and will be accepted at the destination.

“This successful prosecution shows that we won’t hesitate to pursue companies who export waste illegally,” said Dr Ahmed.

“There is a legitimate and growing market abroad for recyclables, but there are rules covering waste exports.

“While we don’t apportion any blame to the councils involved, everyone has a duty to ensure their waste is being dealt with in the proper fashion by a reputable and licensed company.”

The company was given 14 days to pay the fine and costs.

Community Waste’s co-director Philip Serfaty told edie: “We’re mortified at what happened two years ago. It occurred when we were extremely stretched because of a major fire – our main plant burned down.

“We feel some of the mitigating factors were not taken into account enough. Some mistakes were made and some of the normal procedures broke down.

“But on the one hand we were pleased this was picked up because it was going to one of the top paper mills in India and they would have been upset at receiving and that would have created problems between us and the end user.”

He said the company does not deliver any waste at all and only deals in recyclable materials.

Since the incident it has built one of the biggest state-of-the-art plants in the country at Milton Keynes and has stopped dealing with third parties.

David Gibbs

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