Fridge recyclers convicted under 'duty of care'

A fridge recycler trading as Evans Logistics and a waste carrier have together been fined £18,000 after they sent thousands of old fridges to an unlicensed site. The case is the latest in a line stemming from the recent lack of fridge recycling capacity.

By the beginning of 2002, many councils were scrambling to find companies that could take their scrap fridges and either recycle them or export them for reprocessing. The capacity shortage lasted about 12 months and has since thrown up some interesting examples of how some firms sought to cut corners.

Last July, company director Dean Overton was convicted of impersonating an Environment Agency officer after he forged a waste management licence for his fridge recycling plant (ENDS Report 342, p 62 ).

The following month, Manchester-based Britannia Import and Export and its director were fined more than £35,000 after admitting five offences involving the storage and scrapping of fridges. The company has since lost its contract with Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority and may face a second prosecution for similar offences (ENDS Report 348, p 17 ).

The latest case involves the recycling of fridges in Wales. In August 2002, the Agency gave a waste management licence to a Knighton firm, Industrial Plastic Recyclers (IPR), permitting it to process waste foam and plastic from fridges. However, the licence did not permit the acceptance, storage or processing of whole fridges.

Moreover, because of the delay in IPR providing financial provision for the site, the licence did not come into force until 16 months later.

However, inspections of IPR's site in November 2002 revealed that some 6,500 fridges had been brought onto the premises in the previous few weeks. Fridge recycler Sundorne Products (Llandiloes), trading as Evans Logistics, was the original holder of the fridges, while a second firm, Carr Brothers (Farmers), had delivered some of them to the Knighton site.

Sundorne told the Agency that it had asked IPR if it could accept fridges and had been told that it could. But it admitted that it did not check through its entire licence. Carr Brothers admitted that it had not asked to see the licence or asked questions about the type of waste which could be accepted.

Appearing before Llandrindod Wells magistrates on 27 January, Sundorne and Carr Brothers each admitted depositing waste on an unlicensed site, contrary to section 33(1)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Sundorne was fined £10,000, and Carr Brothers £8,000. Each had to pay £989 costs.

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