Well, at EEESafe we’re all about Waste Prevention of Electrical items that could be used for the local community, but how about this Waste Prevention exercise, all down to a Cardboard Box?
Company boss Linda Bracey gave away spare cardboard boxes to a member of the public. One of the boxes, bearing the company’s name, was subsequently found among other rubbish on a fly-tipping site, so Waltham Forest Council prosecuted her in a case branded by a judge a ‘monumental waste of public time and money’.
Waltham Forest ran up legal bills of £15,000 in accusing Mrs.Bracey of ‘illegally disposing of business waste’, despite acknowledging that it was not Mrs.Bracey who had left the box at the fly tip.
Mrs.Bracey, 54, said that if successful, the prosecution would have seen supermarkets and other businesses effectively banned from giving away spare boxes to customers who might want to carry their shopping or use them for packing when moving house. But, following a trial during which Judge Alex Milne QC called for an outbreak of ‘common sense’, a jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court acquitted her company, Electro Signs, in Walthamstow, East London, of breaching environmental protection laws.
Giving directions to the jury, Judge Milne said: ‘Were the cardboard boxes in question waste? Packaging such as boxes received by a company like Electro Signs is not waste when it is delivered to the company. Nor do boxes become waste as soon as the contents are removed. If a company chooses to keep and re-use boxes, they remain the property of the company and an asset. If the company keeps boxes for its own use but then chooses to give or sell boxes to another party that is not discarding them.’
Following the hearing Mrs Bracey, a mother of three, labelled as ‘mad’ Waltham Forest Council’s decision to spend £15,000 on a court case over a cardboard box. ‘It is a ridiculous situation, because not only are the council, as the judge said, wasting taxpayers’ money, but also preventing the re-using of a cardboard box, since the company that gives a person a box could be facing prosecution. The world’s gone mad. The ironic thing is that the council brought the action against us under the Environmental Protection Act. The council had ample opportunity over many, many court hearings to stop this. It didn’t have to go this far.’
Waltham Forest councillor Clyde Loakes described the outcome of the case as ‘incredibly disappointing’. Mr Loakesadded: ‘Our residents are fed up with people treating our streets as a rubbish dump, which is why this council has carried out a well-publicised drive to wipe out environmental crime.’