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Illegal British shipment intercepted in Rotterdam

Archiv – In early May, inspectors from the Dutch environmental agency VROM and from the customs authorities intercepted 60 containers which were about to be shipped from Rotterdam to China. Although the accompanying documents said the containers held recovered paper, it emerged that, in fact, they contained 1600 tonnes of assorted waste materials, including plastic packaging, batteries, drinks cans, old clothes, carrier bags and wood.In early May, inspectors from the Dutch environmental agency VROM and from the customs authorities intercepted 60 containers which were about to be shipped from Rotterdam to China. Although the accompanying documents said the containers held recovered paper, it emerged that, in fact, they contained 1600 tonnes of assorted waste materials, including plastic packaging, batteries, drinks cans, old clothes, carrier bags and wood.
According to VROM, this represented the ’biggest household waste fraud ever to be discovered in The Netherlands’. The 60 containers have been shipped back to the exporter, Grosvenor Waste of Kent. The company is the UK’€™s largest independent recycler and MRF operator, and has been part-financed by £750 000 (US$ 1.43 million/’‚¬ 1.09 million) of public money.
VROM alleges that Grosvenor Waste had tried to cover up the export operation. The waste had been sent in trucks from different ports within the UK to The Netherlands, where it was loaded into sea containers and subsequently spread throughout the country in an attempt to reduce the risk of discovery.
English waste companies are increasingly exporting household waste to developing countries, according to VROM. The agency attributes this trend to rapidly-rising landfill costs in the UK. British household waste often ends up with intermediates who are paid by British local authorities to process the waste but instead export it abroad labelled as recovered paper, it is contended.
Grosvenor Waste claims that it has fallen victim to indistinct and vague legislation because it was unclear on the kinds of recovered paper that could and could not be exported. In particular, it said, the degree of plastics contamination was not specified. However, a VROM spokesman who has inspected the containers’€™contents said that ‘€˜there was very little recovered paper in the load, apart from a couple of envelopes and Christmas cards’€™.
In a response to Recycling International, Grosvenor Waste’€™s Managing Director John Viviani insists that ‘€˜spurious and inaccurate allegations’€™ have appeared in the press. ‘€˜Grosvenor Waste’€™s management has at all times acted transparently in co-operation with the regulators,’€™ he says. ‘€˜Grosvenor remains committed to working with the regulator and waste management industry to develop and adopt objective, quantity-based testing to ensure clarity and consistency of regulation, and welcomes the move by the Environment Agency to get around the table with industry representatives … and find a way forward.’€™
Grosvenor Waste also says that UK landfill costs are lower than the European average and that recycling typically remains more expensive than landfilling. Recyclables are exported from the UK due to a lack of reprocessing capacity in the UK: as an example, 2.5 million tonnes of paper was exported from the UK last year, according to Grosvenor Waste.

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