Community Waste, which operates the Milton Keynes materials recycling facility (MRF), admitted that the material destined for a paper manufacturing company was not acceptable but said insufficient recognition was given to certain mitigating factors.
In October 2005, 11 containers inspected at Thamesport, Kent, were found to be in contravention of the Transfrontier Shipments of Waste Regulations. Labels said the containers held separated paper waste but inspectors from the Environment Agency (EA) and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency found metals, plastic, glass and other waste.
Regulatory waste officer Dr Helen Ahmed said: 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 to the people who would have had to deal with the waste in India.
While we dont 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.
Community Waste co-director Philip Serfaty said: We admit that this material should never have been shipped but we submit that it was not done on purpose and our record with the customer supports this.
He added that inferior material was loaded due to an unfortunate breakdown in the companys control system, resulting from stretched management resources following a huge fire at the Milton Keynes MRF.
Serfaty said: We could not attend the loadings personally and were relying on the photographs from the third party company. The contamination levels in the containers were only around 5-7% and the EAs strategically taken photographs [shown in court] appeared to emphasise this.
This material was destined for recycling and not at all for disposal. We are grateful that it was acknowledged by the prosecution that the material was predominantly waste paper. The fact that the material was constantly referred to as unsorted household rubbish created the erroneous impression that we were sending rubbish for disposal.