The shipping company, which originally took the illegally exported UK waste over to Brazil will pay the cost of returning it to the UK, the Environment Agency has said.
Environment Agency head of waste and resource management Liz Parkes told MRW: At the moment the waste, is under the control of the Brazilian authorities and we need to bring it back legally, which takes time. When all the paperwork concerning the waste is filled in and the Brazilian authorities have agreed to it we can ship it back to the UK.
The shipping company that took it out there will be paying for it to be shipped back in the repatriation of the waste.
It is believed that once Brazil has released the waste, it will take around six weeks to reach the UK.
As the EA investigates the situation, the real number of containers of illegally exported waste found in Brazil is not yet known. Initially, the EA was notified of two containers, but it seems a series of illegally exported shipments were made under the guise of plastic for recycling and the number of containers could now reach up to100.
Media reports have suggested that two Swindon companies are responsible for the shipments to Brazil Worldwide Biorecyclables and UK Multiplas Recycling however, Parks was unable to comment on this.
Parkes said: The EA already does a lot of work in this area by checking where waste is going and the quality of the waste. We have been pleased with our progress as there seems to be a much higher awareness now over material quality, so it is very disappointing that we have this fairly serious issue occurring still. It is also disappointing if it were to undermine public confidence in recycling.
According to Parkes, regulations regarding waste movement have only recently been reviewed with tighter and tougher controls. However, there are difficulties policing certain waste such as Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment, as it is perfectly legal to export second-hand working electronics. However end-of-life broken electrical equipment is subject to export controls.
Parkes added: I think the answer with waste in general is to ensure the markets are working properly and the right procedures are in place. It is up to all of us to sort waste properly.
If those responsible for exporting waste to Brazil are taken to Crown Court they could be subject to unlimited fines and custodial sentences. If taken to a magistrates court, a £20,000 fine and two years in prison is the maximum punishment.
Sixty-four containers of hazardous waste were found on 17 July at three Brazilian ports (see MRW story). It was reported that this waste contained syringes, condoms, packs of blood and WEEE, although the EA could not comment on this.