Convicted fragmented at least 2,236 refrigerators and released the equivalent of 3,378 tons of carbon dioxide, which entailed "a great risk to the environment and health of people," according to the statement. A portion of the cold came from recycling centers and collection of appliances in the street of the City of Madrid.

Like other appliances, refrigerators contain toxic elements and once used should be treated in specialized plants to prevent contamination. The costly process is financed by consumers who pay a fee with the purchase of electrical and electronic equipment, whose overall bill amounts to some 300 million euros a year.

The convictions of four businessmen, still can be appealed to the Supreme Court, represent the first fruits of the vast operation launched by the coordinator of Environment prosecution in 2010 against fraud in the recycling of hazardous waste. The origin was an anonymous tip. "As a result we proceeded to gather information about the real situation of the sector. And discover an incomprehensible situation in the highest degree, "the prosecutor responsible for the Environment, Antonio Vercher. "Do not receiving treatment plants authorized a minimum number of waste produced annually than previously calculated by the institutions."

Paul Balaguera, CEO of Recytel, a company authorized to recycle this type of waste based in Madrid, agrees with the prosecutor. "Almost all Spanish treatment plants are oversized. We were born with a large size, in anticipation of what official data showed and objectives set by the European Union, but we have never reached the expected workload. In our facilities, for example, we could treat 30,000 tonnes per year and only treat 10,000 ".

Mariano Arana, manager Induraees, other authorized recycling plant located in Palencia, estimated to circumvent legal channels is so widespread that only 20% of household just in the right place. The percentage comes from a study conducted by the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU), which were introduced in appliances GPS to find your destination.

The difficulty to solve the problem contributes, according to industry sources, the limited accessibility of the data. "Transparency is missing. Not only in the treatment of electrical and electronic equipment, but in general in the world of waste. There is a tendency to obscurantism "says Javier Miranda, coordinator of the master in management of waste from the Autonomous University of Madrid.

It also influences continues Balaguera, the situation in which they have been scrap dealers lifetime before the advance of environmental legislation. "The traditional chatarrero you've removed the car, because now they have to go to a specialized center for decontamination. Centers have been established for the treatment of waste from construction and demolition. And we appear above us to treat electric appliances when the appliances were the main supply of these shredders. It's dangerous, yes. But if you leak also leave out a lot of tons of scrap "he says.

Used appliances, like refrigerators, have a value if one ignores the regulated treatment and proper removal of CFC gases (chlorofluorocarbons) that keep on circuits and insulating foams. "Without the costs of recycling, what you have is a chapajo, as they call the scrap, quality first," says Balaguera. The economic crisis and the parallel rise in the price of metals, which led the copper price to $ 8,000 per tonne before the price began to fall, have not provided the fight against fraud in the system.

Market pollution

The judgment of the Court of Madrid sentence of two businessmen to four years and one month in prison as authors of so-called environmental offenses, which are enshrined in Articles 325 and 326 of the Penal Code. Two other businessmen were sentenced to two years in prison.
To calculate the liability, the court has translated the released gas money going to the "market value of the allowances of CO2 and other greenhouse gases." The result is not very high. By releasing the equivalent of 3,378 tons of gas, judges condemn them to pay 60,722 euros. 17.9 euros per tonne.

The reason, says Angel Pardo, an expert in International Finance from the University of Valencia, is that the price of allowances, whose reference mark in the futures market ICE (Intercontinental Exchange) is very low due to "excess allowances "assigned to firms and falling production with the crisis. Historically, the value of the allowance for a ton of gas has fluctuated between 29 and five dollars, and this week traded to seven.