The UK Environment Agency has prosecuted Sinoway International for illegally exporting hazardous waste electrical and electronic equipment from Cumbria to Hong Kong.
The company was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £2,700 in costs after pleading guilty at Workington Magistrates Court to illegally exporting the equipment.
In November last year, the Environment Agency was informed by the Hong Kong environmental protection department that a container had been found to contain items of waste electrical equipment including several hundred computer monitors.
Documents in the container indicated that Sinoway had exported the waste from Cumbria Recycling in Workington to Hong Kong in September 2009. Environment Agency officers contacted Sinoway and Sinoway then arranged for the waste to be returned to the UK.
When the container was returned to the UK in December, environment officers inspected it and found a number of waste electrical items including cables, monitors, base units, components and wires. Officers found the contents to be poorly packed and some items were visibly damaged.
Cumbria Recycling collects such waste from civic amenity sites in Cumbria. The waste is then brought to its site for refurbishment or repair. Any items of waste that are deemed beyond repair are sent for reprocessing.
Many of the items within the container were considered to be beyond repair by Cumbria Recycling, but instead of the waste being sent for reprocessing in the UK, it was sold to Sinoway. Cumbria Recycling stated that Sinoway was fully aware that the goods were hazardous waste.
Cumbria Recycling accepted that it was involved in the illegal export by selling the waste to Sinoway and loading the waste into the container. After the container had been returned to its site, Cumbria Recycling paid for the waste to be reprocessed at a suitably permitted facility in the UK. The company received a formal caution from the environment agency for its role in the illegal export.
Steve Johnston, environment officer for the Environment Agency, said: ’This case sends out a strong message to other companies that such waste cannot be exported to other countries. The Environment Agency will continue to take enforcement action against such offenders.’