Michael Coates Recycling has been fined £10,000 after admitting to two charges of operating a waste facility without the appropriate environmental permit.
The firm’s director, Michael Coates, also pleaded guilty to two similar charges of allowing activities to be carried out without a permit.
Michael Coates Recycling has two sites on Heworth Way on the Pelaw Industrial Estate in Gateshead.
The Environment Agency took the case to court after its investigating officers discovered that the firm was receiving, sorting and storing mixed waste, which were activities not covered by its existing permits.
At Units 4 and 5c on Heworth Way, the firm was permitted to receive pre-sorted plastics for recycling. But in May 2011, waste including paper and aluminium cans was seen being stored there. In October of the same year, bales of mixed waste were found in storage on the site.
While at Van Hee Yard, also on Heworth Way, the firm was permitted to receive pre-sorted scrap metal. But in December 2011, investigating officers witnessed wood, mattresses and foam being delivered and sorted on the site, and in January 2012 more mixed waste was seen being sorted.
As well as the fine, the company was ordered to pay legal costs of £2,000 and a victim surcharge of £15. Michael Coates himself was fined £350 and ordered to pay costs of £371.
The company has since applied for all the environmental permits and is currently operating within the law.
Environment Agency environment crime officer Jim Crammon said: “The result of this case demonstrates that environmental crime is a serious offence. Michael Coates Recycling carried out a number of activities without being properly licensed, and there were continued breaches in spite of our advice.
“Following the Environment Agency’s investigations, we are pleased to be able to say that the company has responded positively by obtaining appropriate permits and improving its practices to ensure the permits are not breached in the future.
“Waste operations of this nature could potentially have a harmful impact on the environment and the local community – that’s why it is vital that companies know their responsibilities and operate within the conditions of their environmental permits.”