SITA has defended its decision to export waste collected in Northumberland to India for recycling despite being ordered to stop the practice.
Northumberland County Council this week said it was appalled by its waste-management contractors actions.
The authority insisted that SITA had broken its contract by sending materials collected from kerbside collections to the subcontinent.
But SITA insisted it did nothing wrong and that many other councils and companies were trialling such trading schemes.
Northumberland County Council Leader Michael Davey said: We are appalled that this has happened. We have only just discovered it and we have acted immediately. We will not tolerate this under any circumstances.
We will meet our recycling targets in the county but we wont do it by exporting waste overseas. Waste is a worldwide problem it wont be solved if rich countries ship their problems to poorer countries.
Friends of the Earth recycling campaigner Claire Wilton added: Waste produced in the north east should be recycled locally, not sent thousands of miles.
Exporting waste to India for recycling wastes energy, causes unnecessary pollution and deprives local people of jobs. SITA must not put profits before people and the environment.
But a statement from SITA said: SITA UK saw the opportunity to improve efficiencies in the recycling operations in Northumberland and began a trial to send recyclable material from its facility in North Tyneside to India.
Many local authorities and recycling organisations across the UK are investigating the potential to trade directly with the Indian continent and Far East where demand for raw materials is high.
SITA UK will be reviewing the operation and success of this trial before any decisions to export recyclable material on a long-term basis is made. However, in this case we recognise the strength of feeling of our client and we would not wish to pursue any operational methods without our clients full agreement.
It is important to stress that at no time did SITA UK act unlawfully or outside the boundaries of regulation or legislation.