A Rushden recycling firm which broke European rules on the transfer of waste has been ordered to pay out £23,000 in fines and costs.
A representative from Monoworld Ltd appeared at Northampton Magistrates Court on Monday where the firm admitted sending mixed waste to Germany and China without prior written notification and consent of the authorities.
Magistrates fined the Rushden company, which also has a base in Bedfordshire, £10,000 and ordered it to pay the costs of the Environment Agency investigation which totalled £13,745.
Monoworld Ltd arranged shipment of waste and in 2013 illegally tried to ship to the two countries.
The Germany consignment was stopped by Dutch authorities and the China consignment was detected by Environment Agency officers in a routine inspection carried out in Felixstowe.
Miriam Tordoff, prosecuting, told magistrates that the “recycled” plastic waste returned from the Netherlands also contained metal cans, food trays, aerosol cans and wood amongst other items and it smelt. There were also flies and some of the waste was a year old.
The shipment bound for China was also found to contain plastics contaminated with decomposing plant leaves, latex gloves, wood, cans and cable as well as pockets of polluting brown liquid.
Rodent droppings and mould could also be detected.
In one container there were crushed wheelie bins that had not even been cleaned out, Mrs Tordoff told the court.
She said waste should be baled separately for export.
The company declined interviews with the Environment Agency on both occasions.
Georgie Messent, in mitigation for the company, said Monoworld Ltd accepted there had been serious procedural failings but that the company had taken steps to address that, including the investment of £9.8 million in new sorting lines and a new recycling facility at the Rushden site.
More staff have also been hired.
Sentencing the company, magistrates said the company’s actions were reckless.
After the hearing Environment Agency officer Liz Williams said: “We carry out inspections at ports to ensure waste rules are being followed and the law is clear there are rules to follow when exporting waste for recycling.
“Waste needs to be described accurately at all stages of the process so that everyone knows what they are dealing with.”