UK firm fined over illegal waste exported to Brazil

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A firm has been ordered to pay £85,000 over the illegal export of tonnes of waste from Britain to Brazil in 2009, the Old Bailey has heard.

Edwards Waste Paper director Simon Edwards, 47, and former sales manager, Jonathan Coombe, 42, admitted responsibility for containers loaded at their site in Barking, east London.

Both were ordered to pay costs. Coombe received a conditional discharge.

A father and son were also sentenced after admitting transporting the waste.

In July 2009, Brazilian authorities accused the UK of dumping unwanted contaminated material on its shores, after 89 containers holding 1,500 tonnes of waste were found on a quay side.

The shipment of "mixed plastics" - worth about £60,000 - was sent back to the UK and examined by the Environment Agency (EA). They were found to contain contaminated items such as nappies, needles and medical equipment.

The Old Bailey heard the material - which came from waste collected by 30 councils - had been shipped to Brazil by three companies to avoid the expense of sorting and cleaning it in Britain.

'Signal to the industry'

At the court on Tuesday, Edwards Waste Paper was fined £45,000 and ordered to pay £40,000 in costs.

Edwards, from Loughton in Essex, was fined £10,000 with £10,000 of costs to be paid, while Coombe, from Romford, was given a two-year conditional discharge with £250 of costs.

The pair had pleaded guilty at last year's pre-trial hearing to their part in the export of the waste out of Felixstowe and Tilbury.

In February, Julio Da Costa, 52, and his son Juliano, 28, of Swindon, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to transporting the material against Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development regulations.

The father and son had arranged the shipments of 89 containers to Brazil in 2008 and 2009, an investigation by the EA found. They had previously denied the charge at an earlier hearing.

The EA found they were involved in shipping the containers via their now dissolved Swindon-based companies Worldwide Biorecyclables Ltd and UK Multiplas Ltd.

Forty-six of the containers were loaded at the Edwards Waste Paper site in Essex.

At the court on Tuesday, Mr Da Costa was given a two-year conditional discharge, while his son was given an 18-month conditional discharge. They were each ordered to pay £500 in costs.

While it is legal to export plastics for recycling in some countries, it is illegal to export waste.

Judge Richard Hone said the case "was a significant and serious matter".

Head of the EA's national crime team, Andy Higham, said: "I hope this matter sends out a signal to the rest of the industry.

"Illegal waste export undermines law-abiding recycling businesses back home."

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