Biffa pleads not guilty to illegally exporting waste to Indonesia and India

Case covers allegations of illegal exports between October 2018 and February 2019

Waste giant Biffa has appeared again in court this week over allegations that it has been illegally exporting household waste abroad.

On Tuesday at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court, the firm pleaded not guilty to four charges of illegally exporting household waste to India and Indonesia between October 2018 and February 2019.

The Environment Agency (EA), which brought the prosecution, says Biffa contravened the 2007 Transfrontier Shipment Regulations.

In June, Biffa was found guilty of breaching the the same laws in 2015, with seven containers of mixed paper due for export to China from Felixstowe contaminated with household waste, including dirty nappies.

The ban has led to a global recycling crisis, with many western countries, including the UK, struggling to find end markets for recyclable material. Alternative markets, including Indonesia have also subsequently banned or restricted the imports of waste, arguing that they were being used as a dumping ground for poor quality recyclates. 

Biffa, which is appealing the China conviction, has criticised the EA for not providing clear guidance on acceptable levels of purity for exported mixed paper.

In a statement, the company said it would strongly contest the latest case against it and that "the prosecution’s statement contains factual inaccuracies". 

A Biffa spokesperson added: "The EA has previously visited the facilities in question when identical recycled paper was produced for export, without complaint. 

"Biffa maintains that the EA needs to issue clear guidance to the industry as to what are the acceptable levels of purity for UK exported mixed paper. We are encouraged by the support we have received from across the industry for our position on this matter."

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