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`Duped` Brazil waste shipping company awarded £730,000

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Source: Materials Recycling Week

The shipping company involved in exporting and repatriating ‘illegal’ waste sent to Brazil, has won £731,615 in damages and costs.

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) brought the claim in the High Court against Worldwide Biorecyclables, its director Julio Da Costa and its previous co-director and company secretary Andre Oliveira.

The money was awarded becuase the shipping company suffered reputational and financial damages after ‘illegally’ shipping local authority household waste and medical waste under the guise of plastic scrap, which was – according to MSC’s solicitors Duval Vassiliades Solicitors - “completely unbeknown to the company”. (See MRW story)

The sum includes the shipment fees MSC had to pay after it agreed to repatriate the waste to the UK when it was discovered in Brazil, and a heavy fine imposed on the firm by the Brazilian authorities.

Instead of shipping plastic scrap as it thought, MSC transported 79 containers, which included items such as syringes, catheters, sanitary towels, nappies, medical tubing and other hospital waste, found in a survey was carried out by MSC’s surveyors.

A statement from MSC’s solicitor said: “As MSC have no part in the loading operation and have no opportunity to check the contents of the sealed containers, procedures for sorting and checking the waste must be correctly observed by the contractor loading the container.”
When the containers arrived back in the UK, the UK Environment Agency and MSC’s surveyors checked over the contents of the containers, which were then dumped into a landfill site under the supervision of the EA, “who accepted that MSC was an innocent party”.

According to court documents seen by MRW, 70 containers comprising of 2,442 bales were examined by MSC’s surveyors. Of these bales, 2,120 were found to contain hazardous waste.

An EA spokesperson said: 'This civil case does not have any bearing on our criminal investigation and won't damage our investigation or future prosecution. We cannot comment on names in the civil case.

'When we undertook our own survey of the containers we found very poorly mixed household waste, which were mainly recyclables. We have taken over 140 bags of evidence from the containers.'

The EA could not comment on the claim that medical waste had also been found in the containers.

The particulars of the claim also state, that it may be “reasonably inferred” that Da Costa and Oliveira knew that it would be more expensive to dispose of hazardous waste than plastic and acted as they did to make a profit.

Currrently, further action is being taken against others involved in the illegal activity of stuffing MSC’s containers with contaminated product. MSC is also said to be liaising with others in the supply and transport chain who have been ‘duped’.

The BBC reported that Da Costa plans to appeal against the ruling.

`Duped` Brazil waste shipping company awarded £730,000

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