The Environment Agency has handed down a £130,000 fine to two company directors for illegally exporting 187 tonnes of hazardous WEEE to six African countries between 2011 and 2015.
A 9 month suspended prison sentence was also given to one of the directors.
Eleven shipping containers found by the EA were full of WEEE destined for Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania. The severity of the fine is indicative of the fact that these countries have insufficient controls to avoid pollution and harm to people and the environment with regard to the handling of WEEE.
Hidden tracking device
A hidden tracking device was fixed to a broken television set by the BBC’s Panorama programme at a civic amenity site in South London. After tracking the TV to the recycler’s site in Warrington before finally heading to Felixstowe port, the EA found the TV in a shipping container, seizing it before it was illegally exported.
Eleven 40-foot containers were discovered, each containing about 15 tonnes of WEEE hidden by wrapped items at the front of the container. Despite the attempts the hide the illegal cargo it was discovered that the containers actually included hazardous cathode ray televisions and broken fridge freezers, which were described as second-hand goods but didn’t work.
Only the tip of the iceberg
It transpired that the eleven containers were only the tip of the iceberg as the EA prosecutors explained to the court that the company had illegally exported an additional 186 shipping containers to Nigeria, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Gambia and Togo.
The company and its directors pleaded guilty to shipping the containers illegally. Director, Mark Daniels, was given a 9-month custodial sentence suspended for 2 years and ordered to pay £50,000 Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) and a £20,000 contribution to costs. Daniels Recycling Ltd was fined a total of £25,000 (£5,000 per offence pleaded to). Fellow director, Lynn Gallop, was fined £450, with £25,000 POCA and a contribution to costs of £10,000. Other defendants have also pleaded guilty to exporting six of the containers, having bought the waste from Daniels Recycling – their sentencing has been adjourned to March 2016.
Mark Sayers, Principal Consultant at ecosurety commented “This case highlights the absolute necessity for Producers, obligated under the WEEE Regulations, to ensure that their Compliance Scheme providers have strong and close relationships with their contracted recyclers – supported by extensive and intensive auditing procedures – so-called ‘cheap’ compliance can come at a high cost!”
Following a brief career in the legal industry, James joined the compliance team in August 2012, and since has undertaken a variety of roles in account management and scheme operations.
He now holds the role of Technical manager where he is responsible for ensuring Ecosurety and its members are compliant across the packaging, WEEE and batteries regulations. In addition, he also leads our technical service delivery team who support clients with various data projects and international compliance activities.