Oxfordshire trading standards and Viridor generate power with disposal of illegal cigarettes

A record seizure was made during a joint operation with Thames Valley Police of 680,380 smuggled and some suspected counterfeit cigarettes at a Banbury property in November 2021.

By Matt Elofson
Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 10:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 10:46 am

Illegal tobacco confiscated by Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards team has been sent to Viridor’s Ardley Energy Recovery Facility to be safely disposed of and contribute to the plant’s generation of electricity.

Ardley, located near Bicester, can receive 326,300 tonnes of non-recyclable waste each year. It diverts at least 95 per cent of Oxfordshire’s non-recyclable municipal waste away from landfill and generates enough electricity to power the equivalent of 59,616 homes.

Councillor Neil Fawcett, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for community services and safety, said: “The trade in illegal tobacco brings crime into our communities. That’s why it is so important to clamp down on it. Sending confiscated tobacco to energy recovery is a win-win, permanently destroying it, diverting from landfill, and generating power for homes and businesses”.

Helen Edwards, Viridor’s environmental health and safety manager; with Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s head of trading standards. (photo from Oxfordshire County Council)

Ardley will receive 75,000 illegal cigarettes, with an estimated street value of £18,000, and nearly 100kg of tobacco, which has been seized by trading standards as part of its enforcement action across Oxfordshire.

A record seizure was made during a joint operation with Thames Valley Police of 680,380 smuggled and some suspected counterfeit cigarettes at a Banbury property in November 2021.

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Record seizure of illegal cigarettes made from Banbury property

Since trading standards began the illegal tobacco project in October 2017, over 800,000 cigarettes, 50kg of hand-rolling tobacco, and over 115kg of waterpipe tobacco have been seized as part of the enforcement action and these will be disposed of following the completion of the legal process.

Despite a decline in smoking rates in recent years, smoking remains England’s single greatest cause of preventable illness and avoidable death, resulting in 78,000 deaths from smoking-related diseases in 2016 alone.

Oxfordshire is aiming to be one of the first counties in England to go smoke-free – meaning less than one in twenty still smoking – by 2025.