High Wycombe company Biffa has been caught exporting banned waste to Asia for the second time in two years.

Biffa Waste Service Ltd, which based on the Cressex Industrial Estate in Coronation Road, broke the law by sending more than 1,000 tonnes of waste - including soiled nappies, wigs and clothing collected from private homes - to Asia.

The shipment was labelled as paper.

An investigation by the Environment Agency prevented 16 25-tonne containers from onward export between Southampton and Indonesia in 2018 and 2019.

Biffa was also convicted of exporting a further 26 containers that sailed before they could be stopped.

Wood Green Crown Court heard Biffa logged various items as paper at its depot in North London.

The tightly-packed waste included soiled nappies, tins, hairpieces, plastics, clothing and food packaging and investigators said the smell of the bundles was "putrid".

All of it was destined for one paper mill in India and two more in Indonesia.

Malcolm Lythgo, head of waste regulation at the Environment Agency, said: "We are pleased with the court's decision.

"We want all producers and waste companies to be responsible and make sure they only export material that can be legally and safely sent abroad for recycling.

"Illegal waste exports blight the lives and environment of those overseas. The Environment Agency will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those found to break the rules.

"We prevented the illegal export of almost 23,000 tonnes of unsuitable waste in 2019/20, and are working with the Government on a number of measures that would tighten controls. These include increased monitoring of international waste shipments, and charging higher fees to improve compliance."

The court was told Biffa, with a £1 billion turnover last year, continued to export waste despite being fined £350,000 for shipping similar prohibited material to China in 2015.

Exports of unsorted household recycling waste from the UK to India and Indonesia has been banned since 1994.

The jury did not accept Biffa’s version of events that consignments leaving its premises complied with the law because they contained waste paper.

Biffa Waste Services Ltd, of Coronation Road, High Wycombe, was convicted of 4 breaches of regulation 23 of the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007.

They will be sentenced on July 30 at Wood Green crown court.

A spokesman for Biffa said that "no public interest has been served" by the Environment Agency bringing the prosecution.

They said: “The UK does not have the infrastructure to recycle all of the wastepaper that householders send for recycling, meaning export is essential to avoid having to landfill or incinerate this valuable resource.

"The case established that the paper we were sending for export was over 99 per cent pure. This is no different from the waste paper that is recycled in the UK. It would have been used as raw material to make cardboard packaging.

"The recycling industry has tried to engage with the Environment Agency on developing standards for export that reflect the realities of recycling that it can be measured against, but the Agency has not cooperated.

"Biffa no longer exports wastepaper outside the OECD but the industry overall has no choice but to do so. We urgently request that a set of coherent policies are put in place that either put exports on a stable footing or stimulate the necessary investment in the UK so that it is no longer needed.”