The Environment Agency has paid for the return and disposal of 4,000 tonnes of poor quality “unsorted” waste that was sent to Poland from the UK ‘under the guise of recycling’.

The Agency confirmed to that the repatriation work was successfully completed last week and investigations are ongoing.

Work to bring the material back and dispose of it in the UK was handled by Knottingley-based hazardous waste specialist Acumen Waste.

Costs of the return work have not been disclosed but overall the Agency is understood to have spent  around £2 million and it is thought that the initial source of the waste is still being identified.

It is thought that the 4,000 tonnes might have been despatched for processing as RDF rather than as recycling, although the Agency appears to consider that some or all of the material might have been sent under the guise of being recyclable.

Acumen Waste confirmed in November 2018 that it had won a contract from the Environment Agency for the repatriation of the waste, with the tonnage “revised upwards” following site visits carried out by the Polish Authorities, the Environment Agency and Acumen.

The repatriation works began at the start of 2019 and the waste, described as “poorly sorted household and commercial waste”, will now be used for either energy recovery or disposal depending on the suitability of the loads.

In a statement to, a spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “A large amount of poor quality, unsorted waste was illegally shipped to sites across Poland. The shipments were sent to Poland under the guise of recyclable material by a number of firms based in England.

“The repatriation process has been completed and the criminal investigation is still ongoing.”

It is believed that the shipments were to various locations across Poland. Sending waste as recycling, such as for plastics, can be carried out within the EU under green listing but more notifications are needed for RDF waste.

Speaking to, Andy Crossley, managing director of Acumen Waste, added: “We’re pleased to have delivered these works safely, on time and to budget. Acumen has a longstanding relationship with the EA and is delighted to once again have supported them on this complex and logistically challenging project.

“We’re particularly proud of the Acumen team members who temporarily relocated to Poland to carry out these works – they have worked tirelessly throughout to ensure that these wastes were repatriated compliantly and with Programme certainty.”

Source: LetsRecycle