Local amenity sites dumping electrical goods and breaching the Waste and Electrical Equipment Directive have cost Plymouth City Council £11,742 in fines and legal costs.
The council was handed the fine by Plymouth Magistrates Court after being caught selling electrical waste to unauthorised recyclers in a case brought by the Environment Agency. It was fined £8,000 for the breach plus £3,742 costs. It has now carried out a thorough review of its procedures.
In January 2009, the Environment Agency visited a recycling firm in Plymouth, after receiving reports of illegal waste activity. It found a large amount of waste electrical goods, including monitors, out in the open – even though under the WEEE directive electrical goods are required to be kept safe and sent to authorised treatment facilities.
Additionally, councils are obliged to ensure the correct paperwork is completed when waste is transferred to a third party for recycling, signing transfer notes. But when the Environment Agency asked to see the transfer notes from an amenity site, the site operator said he did not know what one was.
Two companies had taken the goods for recycling, but neither had the correct authorisation to take or store them. The Environment Agency is also investigating the alleged illegal export of some of the electrical goods to Ghana.
Matthew Lee, officer at the Environment Agency, said the problems demonstrated “serious management failures” at the amenity sites as a result of “negligence on the part of the council”.