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UK: Environment Agency: 'Illegal export of household waste to Brazil' Trial

Not Guilty Pleas will put the Da Costas before a Jury

Plea Hearing - Apr 2012

In April 2012, four defendants, Jonathan Coombe, 41, of Romford; Simon Edwards, 46, of Loughton in Essex; Julio Da Costa, 51, and Juliano Da Costa, 27, both of Swindon; all faced charges at a plea management hearing at London’s Central Criminal Court, presided over by Judge Gordon, relating to the alleged illegal export of waste to Brazil in South America in 2008 and 2009, in contravention of the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Act 2007.

The charges read out by the court clerk accused the defendants of ‘transporting waste for recovery to a country in which the OECD decision does not apply’. Mr Coombe and Mr Edwards pleaded guilty, whilst Julio Da Costa and Juliano Da Costa pleaded not guilty to the same charges. Edwards Waste Paper Ltd who where also before the court in relation to the same charges also pleaded guilty. Edwards Recycling Ltd (also owned by Mr Edwards) was not ordered to answer to the charges by the court, as the company is dormant.

Trial proceedings set to begin on October 29 at the Central Criminal Court in London will place Julian Da Costa and Juliano Da Costa before a jury to determine their guilt or inocence. The Court will refrain from sentencing the defendants who have pleaded guilty until the trial has concluded.

All of the accused remain on unconditional bail until the trial.


The case follows a two-year investigation carried out by the Environment Agency, in partnership with Brazilian authorities, in which four men and three companies got accused of breaching terms of the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007 causing huge embarrassment for UK Government and Environmental Protection Departments..

The material, marked as plastics for recycling and is believed to have been exported from Felixstowe in the south of England and passed through Antwerp in Belgium before being unloaded at the ports in South America. Amonst the contents of the cargo, items that are prohibited for export were allegedly found, including: sexual, drug, blood, and toilet wastes.

Local media reports at the time claimed that the cargo included: plastic bags, paper, batteries, syringes, chemical toilets, empty cards of drugs, condoms, diapers, cloth and leather, among others. Flies and spiders were also found in containers, it was alleged.

The containers, intercepted by Brazilian customs, were repatriated to the UK, at which point Environment Agency inspectors were said to have discovered mixed waste including nappies, blood packs and syringes.

The original defendants:

  • Jonathan Coombe, 41, of Romford
  • Simon Edwards, 45, of Loughton in Essex
  • Julio Da Costa, 51, of Swindon
  • Juliano Da Costa, 27, of Swindon
  • Edwards Recycling Ltd
  • Edwards Waste Paper Ltd
  • Worldwide Biorecycling Ltd

  • Speaking at the time An Environment Agency spokesperson said:

    "The Environment Agency has sought to contact Brazilian authorities after being alerted to possible illegal waste export from the UK.

    "As the competent authority for enforcing Transfrontier Shipping Regulations in England and Wales, the Environment Agency has launched an investigation to ascertain the facts of this case and to determine if an offence has been committed.

    "Where the Environment Agency detects or is made aware of the illegal export of waste, it works with all relevant partner authorities to ensure the environmentally sound management of any illegal shipments - including the possible return of wastes to UK," he added.

    January 2012 - UK: Environment Agency: 'Illegal export of household waste to Brazil' case deferred until March

    March 2012 - UK: Environment Agency: 'Illegal export of household waste to Brazil' prosecution to be heard at Old Bailey