Leading paper firm Mark Lyndon has maintained its self-imposed export ban in Scotland despite clarification from Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) about its inspection criteria.
As MRW exclusively reported earlier this month, the move came after the company was recommended for prosecution by Sepa over alleged contamination in loads.
The Recycling Association (RA), of which the company is a member, held a meeting with Sepa and the Environment Agency (EA) on 9 June to discuss a joint inspection policy for paper exports.
A common approach was not agreed at the meeting with Sepa citing practical difficulties of how such a limit could deal with non-dry recyclable contamination.
Sepa’s producer compliance and waste shipment unit manager Colin Morrow told the meeting the agency had never applied zero tolerance but used the same approach as other UK authorities.
Morrow referenced in his presentation a 1.5% contamination cap set by China and a common contractual limit of 2% between MRFs and waste brokers, but clarified that Sepa was not enforcing against these limits.
He said the agency does not assess against a percentage limit on non-paper material but inspects each consignment on a case by case basis, considering the “quantity and nature of the contamination”.
But the Mark Lyndon’s managing director Paul Briggs (left) said it was not convinced by Sepa’s position so would not resume trading from Scotland.
Briggs said: “Sepa said the same thing on the front cover of the MRW shortly after they stopped one of my containers and promptly stopped several more.
The consequences to my business are too great and I will not risk bumping into a Sepa official having a bad day.”
Morrow told MRW in January 2014: “We understand that a target of 0% contamination is a virtually impossible task and actively work with operators to address their individual issues.”
The company, which exported 1.5m tonnes of paper from the UK last year, previously said it had spent hundreds of thousands of pounds defending itself after being recommended to the procurator fiscal.
Briggs has claimed that he had been told personally by an inspector that zero contamination was allowed on 14 containers stopped by Sepa last year.
RA chief executive Simon Ellin said he was encouraged by the discussion with Sepa despite not being able to agree a common contamination limit across Scotland and England.
Ellin (right) told MRW: “Colin Morrow’s presentation was fairly well received and I think members can see where he’s coming from so hopefully there is somewhere in the middle we can meet.
“I think there’s an appetite to work together to do something, whether that’s a code of conduct rather than a number limit. We may sit down with the boards of directors and see which direction they want to drive it in.”
- Updated on 18 June to clarify contamination details.