Polish authorities have started the procedure of returning around 1,000 tonnes of “illegally displaced waste” to the UK.
Three companies in the UK are understood to be under active criminal investigation in relation to this.
The news follows the discovery of the waste by officers from the Tax Administration Chamber in Gdańsk – government officials in Poland responsible for taxation and custom – as part of a global operation.
The operation, under the name DEMETER IV, was aimed at controlling cross-border shipments of waste and was part of a World Customs Organization (WCO) initiative from 4 June – 8 July, according to the Polish authority.
When contacted by letsrecycle.com, Marian Mazur from the environmental protection office in Gdańsk said upon opening the containers, the contents was found to be “not recyclable but domestic waste”.
This included cans and plastic waste which had not been cleaned.
Mr Mazur said the waste was “rejected” as it did not meet quality standards. Some of the waste was capable of being recycled, however, only a “minority”, he explained. In total, 45 containers are being returned.
The waste was only discovered on further inspection, otherwise it would have gone “straight through the border,” he added.
The next steps will involve the documents being filed and the waste loaded onto ships to return the containers, he said.
In a statement earlier this month, the Tax Administration Chamber in Gdańsk said more than 1,000 tonnes of illegally displaced waste from Great Britain were detained by its officers.
During the operation, the officers of the Chamber of the Fiscal Administration in Gdańsk conducted a total of over 1,000 inspections. More than 800 vehicles were inspected as part of the activities carried out on the roads of the Pomeranian Voivodeship.
Some of the inspections were carried out in cooperation with the Border Guard officers (SG) and Inspectors of the Road Transport Inspection (ITD.).
“In the sea ports in Gdańsk and Gdynia, officers carried out about 200 activities, during which over 500 containers were inspected. As a result of the control activities carried out, the officers of the Pomeranian Customs and Tax Office detained 8 shipments of illegally moved waste,” the statement reads.
Customs Department of the Container Terminal in Gdynia disclosed 7 shipments of waste illegally moved by sea. In total, waste with a mass of 1,099,169 kg, was found.
A spokesperson for Chamber of the Fiscal Administration in Gdańsk told letsrecycle.com this week that the containers were not accompanied by the “required and necessary” permits.
The Inspection of Environmental Protection authorities have started the procedure of returning waste to UK, she confirmed.
According to Polish news agency, IAR, the waste which was marked as recyclables, was destined for two Polish waste processing companies.
Meanwhile, the UK Environment Agency has confirmed it is currently investigating reports of waste that has been incorrectly shipped to Poland by a number of UK-based firms.
Three companies are currently under active criminal investigation.
According to the Agency, illegal exports are a breach of the EU Waste Shipments Regulations. There are a range of enforcement actions available, which include forcing operators to repatriate waste at their cost, financial penalties and imprisonment.
The Environment Agency confirmed it had received a request from the Polish authorities and is working with them regarding the repatriation of the waste.
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Source: letsrecycle.com General