Dundee recycling firm loses appeal against electrical goods ban

A Dundee recycling company has lost its approval to handle waste electrical goods for the rest of the year.

TLC Recycling, on Harrison Road, had its authorisation cancelled by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) after discrepancies were found in its records.

The decision has now been upheld by planning appeals reporter Michael Shiel.

He said Sepa had been concerned for some time about TLC’s system for recording how much waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) it obtained from door-to-door collections.

Officers checked up on returns for the fourth quarter of 2012, making contact with 59 householders.

“Of these, only one confirmed that it had used TLC Recycling to dispose of WEEE. The remaining 58 confirmed that they had either not disposed of the reported WEEE or had not arranged for a company to collect WEEE during that period,” Mr Shiel said. “Thirty-seven householders provided witness statements to that effect.”

TLC said it had collected 1,465 tonnes of waste from 16,000 addresses across the country.

It argued that Sepa’s verification exercise sampling properties making up just 0.003% of the total number could not be representative of the overall situation or justify allegations that it had not collected a significant amount of waste.

It also questioned how the properties were selected for investigation, how the interviews were conducted and whether accurate responses were given by the householders, based on its own follow-up inquiries at 30 properties.

However, Mr Shiel said: “I find it scarcely credible that, purely by chance, those 58 households were the only ones in 16,000 properties where this situation has arisen.”

He added that the company had provided no explanation as to why the discrepancies in its records had occurred.

It had tried to suggest that the evidence from the householders interviewed was unreliable, but he gave that little credence.

“The fact that 37 of those interviewed were prepared to provide formal statements indicates that they took the matter seriously,” Mr Shiel said.

“For some reason, therefore, the appellant’s systems and procedures have not been working properly to ensure the accuracy of the data included in the quarterly reports.

“I therefore conclude that Sepa was justified in believing that similar problems would continue to occur in the 2013 compliance period.

“In these circumstances I conclude that it was justified in taking enforcement action.”