Immigrant UK waste turned back at Brazilian docks

shipping containersOnly the other day we were talking about tracking trash to find out where it goes. Well, it turns out it’s not just people that end up immigrating into countries that don’t want to deal with them; the Brazilian environment agency Ibama is demanding that 1,400 tonnes of hazardous waste – everything from rotting food, used condoms and dirty hypodermics – be repatriated to the UK where it came from.

Among the rubbish were the names of many British supermarkets, and UK newspapers were also clearly identifiable.

Ibama officials say they want the waste sent back to the UK.

“We will ask for the repatriation of this garbage,” said Roberto Messias, Ibama president. “Clearly, Brazil is not a big rubbish dump of the world.”

Reports in the UK media say the waste was sent from Felixstowe in eastern England to the port of Santos, near Sao Paulo, and two other ports in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.

The Brazilian companies that received the waste said they had been expecting recyclable plastic, The Times reported.

I guess this is the nation-state version of the rocks-in-an-iPod-box scam. Hopefully it’ll get harder for organisations to pull off this kind of switcheroo without getting caught by shipment tracking systems… but while there’s money to be made, you can guarantee they’ll keep trying it on. I expect corruption is a large part of the problem – as much at the UK end as elsewhere. [via SlashDot; image by]