Plymouth City Council has had to pay out almost £12,000 in fines and costs, after it illegally sold electrical waste to unauthorised recyclers.
The council appeared before the city’s magistrates on 10 June, to plead guilty to four offences, committed between April 2008 and June 2009.
As a keeper and disposer of controlled waste, it had failed to ensure transfer notes were completed and signed, in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act 1990. It was fined £8,000 with £3,742 costs.
The case was brought by the Environment Agency which, in January 2009, visited a local recycling business after receiving reports of illegal waste activity. An officer saw waste electrical goods, including televisions and washing machines, stored outside. TVs are classified as hazardous waste because of the presence of potentially toxic lead in the cathode ray tube and screen.
The site operator confirmed the waste had originated from the council’s Chelson Meadow civic amenity site, without an accompanying transfer note.
Looking after WEEE
But councils are required to ensure that waste electrical and electronic goods (WEEE) received at their sites are safely kept and only sent to authorised recycling and disposal facilities. The necessary transfer notes must also be completed.
Further checks revealed that WEEE had also been illegally removed from the council’s civic amenity site at Weston Mill. Some had been sold to a third party allegedly involved in the illegal export of waste.
The agency’s Matthew Lee said: “There were serious management failures at both these civic amenity sites as a result of negligence on the part of the council. Potentially hazardous electrical and electronic waste should have only been transferred to properly authorised waste contractors and this wasn’t happening.”
He added: “The purpose of the WEEE regulations is to ensure waste is properly recycled in the UK and doesn’t end up in places like Africa.” The council has since carried out a thorough review of its waste recycling procedures.
A spokesman for Plymouth City Council told ENDS: “We fully accept that our administrative procedures should have been more rigorous. We have now carried out a thorough review, to make sure that all our files on the waste and recycling disposal activities of our contractors are up-to-date and the correct checks made.”