Fine dumped on Biffa for banned waste exports

Environment Agency

Biffa Waste Services has been forced to pay almost £600,000 for exporting banned waste to China.

The company, one of the largest waste management firms in the UK, was found guilty in the summer of sending contaminated household waste, described as waste paper, to China between May and June 2015.

During an Environment Agency investigation, officers prevented seven 25-tonne containers at Felixstowe port from onward export.

The contents included soiled nappies, food packaging, clothing, bags of faeces and plastic bottles.

Exports of unsorted household recycling waste from the UK to China are banned.

At a hearing in Wood Green Crown Court last month, details of four further charges against Biffa illegally exporting 42 containers of waste from households and destined for India and Indonesia were heard.

The jury did not accept Biffa’s version of events that consignments leaving its depot in Edmonton four years ago complied with the law because they comprised of waste paper.

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

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

“Unconscionable” behaviour by London operator


A London-based operator who “spectacularly failed” to prove himself after being issued with an O-licence for one truck has been disqualified for three years.

South Eastern & Metropolitan area TC Sarah Bell said most of the conditions and undertakings issued to Edward Barrett when he was granted the operator’s licence following a hearing in January 2018 had been disregarded and that his behaviour had been “unconscionable”.

Barrett was authorised to run one lorry but it was on the understanding that his father, John Christopher Barrett had no role in the business.

Undertakings were also given that the operator must maintain his vehicle in a roadworthy condition, he would seek external assistance in terms of industry knowledge and he would attend a seminar.

However, following a Metropolitan police roadside encounter and subsequent DVSA investigation, Barrett was called to a PI.

In a written decision, TC Bell said he had betrayed her trust by, among other things, using an unauthorised operating centre, permitting his father to be involved in the business by regularly driving a lorry, racking up numerous drivers’ hours infringements and prohibitions and failing to provide PMI sheets and driver defect sheets.

She said: “In just 18 months, Mr Barrett has breached the trust I put in him and he has flouted the requirements of the operator licensing regime across the board.

“He cannot be trusted to act lawfully on his own account or in terms of ‘fronting’ for his father.”

In addition to the disqualification, the TC also revoked the O-licence.