Spanish-owned paper recycling group Saica Natur has admitted in court to attempting to illegally send mixed waste to China and now faces an unlimited fine.
As reported by the Daily Record newspaper, Saica Natur was seeking to export material that contained very high levels of contamination and breached international shipment regulations.
Mixed in with the paper were soiled nappies, electronics, food, clothes and toys, with the contamination levels reported in the 51 containers as being between 18% and 19%.
The containers were intercepted by Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) officers who found the high contamination levels and items that are not permitted for export.
According to the Daily Record, environmental crime prosecutor Joe Stewart told Airdrie Sheriff Court that the paper waste was usually sent from its depot in Croy to its mill near Manchester, but a fire there in 2016 had reduced capacity.
He added: “SEPA officers visited the Croy depot and had concerns about the quality of paper waste. It was established that 48 containers were in transit to China, including 29 that had reached Belgium. Another three were at Grangemouth port. All of these containers were intercepted.
“Officers picked through bales of waste paper and found soiled nappies, food waste, electrical equipment, clothing and toys. While a small amount of contamination is to be expected, SEPA officers said the level here went far beyond what could be acceptable.”
SEPA ordered all exports from Saica Natur to halt following the inspections, and charged the company with breaching the regulations on international shipments as it considered the loads to be mixed waste.
Saica Natur now faces an unlimited fine when it is sentenced next month.
It has no previous convictions for breaching these regulations and its lawyer said its “standards had slipped”.