Five defendants have been fined a total of £106,250 for their part in sending 89 40-foot containers of prohibited waste to Brazil.
A father and son were among the five defendants who exported 1,500 tonnes of poorly-sorted household waste in 2008 and 2009 to Santos and Rio Grande do Sul in breach of the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007.
The waste was described as ‘plastics for recycling’ but actually contained waste such as nappies, syringes and catheter bags. This outraged the Brazilian authorities and led to the country’s then President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva making a formal complaint under the Basel Convention.
Environment Agency National Environment Crime Team head Andrew Higham said: “Exporting poorly-sorted, contaminated waste is not only against the law – it’s immoral. It’s a crime that shows a blatant disregard for the safety and welfare of overseas communities and the environment.
“We were determined to bring those who were behind the export to justice. To do that, my officers had to spend over three months hand-picking through hundreds of tonnes of rotting waste to gather evidence and establish where it had all come from. Underpinning the crime was a complex web of contracts and connections and over 170 witness statements were gathered in the course of our inquiries.”
Julio da Costa, 51 and Juliano da Costa, 27 both from Swindon pleaded guilty just days before they were due to face a three-week jury trial at the Old Bailey. Two other men, Jonathan Coombe, 41 and Simon Edwards, 46 of Loughton, Essex, pleaded guilty at a pre-trial hearing last year for their parts in the export of the waste out of Felixstowe and Tilbury. Edwards Waste Paper was also one of the defendants fined.
A fifth man, Andre da Oliveria, 32, failed to answer bail in November 2011 and is still wanted in connection with the case.