Two tonnes of counterfeit items destroyed
Over two tonnes of unsafe and counterfeit items seized over criminal investigations led by the council’s trading standards team has this week been disposed of.
120,000 counterfeit cigarettes, 80kg of fake tobacco and 3,700 pirate DVDs make up just some of the paraphernalia that has been destroyed, disposed or recycled by local contractor TLM Management. Other items include counterfeit alcohol, fake clothes, handbags, shoes and jewellery, and also electrical equipment, mobile phones and accessories.
The counterfeit items had been stored at a secure location by the council’s trading standards team, with items seized from investigations that have concluded over the last few years making up the two tonne haul.
The initial stage of the operation involved manually separating the contents that contained parts able to be recycled. Mobile phones had their batteries removed which were then disposed of responsibly. After the separation process, the various items were passed through a modern industrial shredder, producing a compacted mass.
This mass is then passed through a waste-to-energy process where heat produced by burning waste produces steam, driving a turbine to generate electricity. Emissions are filtered to ensure that any vapour released into the atmosphere complies with national air quality laws within the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Carl Robinson, director of public protection, said: “I am delighted to see the seizure and destroying or recycling of over two tonnes of counterfeit items off the streets and out of the hands of rogue traders, and more importantly, firmly away from residents and visitors. This prevents any profits funding other criminal activities including drug and people trafficking, with the added bonus that the waste-to-energy process is adding electricity to the National Grid.
“Most people purchasing counterfeit items such as cigarettes are unaware of the additional risks to their health and the heightened risk of causing a fire. We will continue to spread the message that we will not tolerate the sale of illicit items and we will use the full force of the law where possible to prevent further sales.
“This operation is one of the largest disposal operations we have seen in the town for the last decade and I would like to offer my thanks to the trading standards team and also members of the public who alert the team to any suspicious activity.”
What are the health issues with counterfeit cigarettes/tobacco?
Not forgetting the general health problems with smoking, counterfeit products often fail safety standards applied to all genuine cigarettes, which are manufactured with a reduced ignition propensity. This is a safety feature built into cigarettes to prevent or reduce the occurrence of house fires, where a cigarette is left alight on furniture.
A study by KPMG found that sales of illegal tobacco products cost the UK Treasury nearly 2 billion pounds in 2016. Additionally, many of these products are manufactured using poor quality tobacco and may contain highly toxic products such as asbestos and rat poison. The production and sale of counterfeit cigarettes is linked to large-scale organised crime, diverting billions of pounds in unpaid duty away from public services such as the NHS and often into the pockets of crime bosses.