Barking firm fined over illegal waste shipment

The Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court, the highest Crown Court in the UK, in central London

The Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court, the highest Crown Court in the UK, in central London - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

A Barking company was ordered to pay £85,000 yesterday after sparking an international incident by exporting tonnes of illegal waste from Britain to Brazil.

The then-president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, complained to the UK Government in 2009 after 1,500 tonnes of contaminated household waste was discovered on a quayside.

The 89 containers marked “mixed plastics” and worth £60,000 were seized after it was discovered they contained contaminated items such as nappies, needles and medical equipment, the Old Bailey heard.

Father and son Julio Da Costa, 52, and Juliano Da Costa, 28, pleaded guilty to transporting the material against Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) regulations.

They ran two Swindon-based companies now in liquidation and arranged the shipments in 2008 and 2009 of 89 containers.


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

Judge Richard Hone said: “It was a significant and serious matter.”

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He fined Edwards Waste Paper £45,000 and ordered it to pay £40,000 costs.

Director Simon Edwards was fined £10,000 with £10,000 costs.

Coombe, who is now unemployed, was was given a two-year conditional discharge with £250 costs.

Julio Da Costa was also given a two-year conditional discharge and his son was given an 18-month conditional discharge. They were each ordered to pay £500 costs.

The Old Bailey was told the items had come from local authority care homes in the waste collected by 70 councils and sold for disposal.

The waste was shipped to Brazil by three companies to avoid the expense of cleaning and sorting it in this country.

Following the protest from Brazil under the United Nations Basel Convention in 2009, the waste was shipped back to Felixstowe Docks and dealt with by the Environment Agency (EA) at a cost of more than £1 million.

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

“Illegal waste exports undermines law-abiding recycling businesses back home.”

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