Waste Transfer Notes
Shipping Containers

Sri Lanka has sent 21 containers of waste back to the UK after it was discovered that they were housing hazardous materials, including hospital waste.

The returned shipment was supposed to be mattresses, rugs and carpets which were ready to be recycled. Instead the shipment allegedly included plastic, polythene and some hospital waste. These containers, each of which holds 260 tonnes, were part of a shipment by a private firm and first arrived in Colombo, the commercial capital and largest city of Sri Lanka, between September 2017 and March 2018.

Legal action was taken after the materials were impounded by Sri Lankan authorities in 2018.

Sunil Jayaratne, a customs spokesman, said the original importation breached international and EU rules and regulations on hazardous waste and its disposal. “The shipper has agreed to take back these 21 containers,” Jayaratne said. “We are working to secure compensation from those responsible for getting the containers into the country.”

England’s Environment Agency said it was committed to tackling illegal waste exports. Several other countries in the region have recently begun to return waste imported from foreign countries. For example, Malaysia returned 42 shipping containers of illegally imported plastic waste to the UK back in January 2020.

Oct 2020

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