A trio pleaded guilty today at the Old Bailey of exporting approximately 750 tonnes of illegal waste to Brazil.
Two others defendants entered not guilty pleas at the initial Crown Court hearing and will now face trial.
Guilty pleas for their roles in exporting household waste to Brazil were from Edwards Waste Paper Limited, Simon Edwards of Loughton, Essex, as director of Edwards Waste Paper and John Coombe of Romford Essex.
No plea was taken from Edwards Recycling.
Both Julio Cesar Rando da Costa and Julio Valderama da Costa, of Swindon pleaded not guilty. A trial date has been set for 29 October to last three weeks.
Complex two-year investigation
The prosecution follows a complex two-year investigation by the Environment Agency’s National Enforcement Service into the export in 2009 of 89 containers of contaminated waste to Brazil.
The shipment described as ‘mixed plastics’ was rejected by the Brazilian authorities – the Brazilian Instuitue of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) – and the containers were repatriated to the UK.
While it is legal to export waste such as plastics for recycling in some countries, it is illegal to export waste. The maximum penalty for exporting waste illegally is an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.
On the shipment’s return to Felixstowe Docks, the Environment Agency oversaw its transfer to be fumigated. Once sterilised, the contents of each container was forensically examined by the investigating team – a painstaking process which took several months to complete.
Andy Higham, Head of the EA’s National Crime Team welcomed today’s development saying: “The Environment Agency takes waste crime seriously and will pursue offenders through the courts.
“Illegal waste exports risk harm to human health and the environment in the country of export, it also undermines law-abiding recycling businesses back home. There is a legitimate export market for recyclable material, but those considering flouting the laws should know we will take vigorous action where there is evidence of waste being exported illegally.”
Intercepted in Indonesia
Meanwhile, the Environment Agency is continuing to investigate after almost 90 containers of alleged illegal waste from the UK were last month intercepted in Indonesia.
The Indonesian authorities raised concerns that the 1800-tonne cargo - described as scrap metal - was heavily contaminated with liquid and mixed waste, and requested repatriation of the containers to the UK. Under the terms of the international laws which govern global waste exports, Indonesia may accept scrap metal for recycling. However contaminated waste cannot be exported.
The containers are due to be released for repatriation by Indonesian authorities. The shipment will then take about a month to reach the UK.
The Environment Agency will oversee the arrival of the containers before undertaking an inspection of their contents. As with Brazil case, the inspection is expected to be lengthy and a fumigation process may have to take place first to make it safe for officers to document the consignment.
The Environment Agency continues its work to stop illegal waste crime. Anyone with information about illegal exports or large scale dumping in the UK can help by contacting the Environment Agency, 0800 80 70 60 or Crime Stoppers 0800 555 111.
- The rules on exporting waste for recycling are covered in the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007.
- In the case of repatriation from Brazil, the Environment Agency withdrew charges against Worldwide Biorecyclables Ltd, because the company has gone into liquidation. Another person originally arrested in connection with this matter failed to attend his last bail hearing and is still at large
- The defendants are Julio Cesar Rando da Costa, of Swindon; Julio Valderama da Costa, of Swindon; Simon Edwards, of Loughton, Essex; John Coombe, of Romford; Edwards Waste Paper Limited and Edwards Recycling Limited