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‘Illegal waste’ repatriated from Sri Lanka

By 28/10/2020News

A consignment of 21 containers of waste “illegally” exported to Sri Lanka has arrived back in England today (28 October) at the Felixstowe port, the Environment Agency has said.

The containers, thought to have been shipped to Sri Lanka as far back as 2017, were found by local authorities to contain “illegal” materials. These are said to include mattresses and carpets which had been exported for reuse.

The Agency says it stopped nearly 13,000 tonnes of waste destined for illegal export from leaving England in 2018/19

With the shipment now back on English soil, the Agency says its enforcement officers will seek to confirm the types of waste illegally shipped and who exported it.

Those responsible could face a custodial sentence of up to two years, an unlimited fine, and the recovery of money and assets gained through the course of their criminal activity.

Illegal trade

Malcolm Lythgo, head of waste regulation at the Environment Agency, said: “We are determined to stop this illegal trade and we have officers inspecting waste shipments at ports across England every day. Wherever we find illegal activity, we stop the waste being exported.

“Wherever we find illegal activity, we stop the waste being exported”

Malcolm Lythgo

“There are stringent international rules in place to stop contaminated waste being shipped to unsuspecting countries which could harm their citizens and the environment, and we will be thoroughly investigating this consignment to track down those responsible. Producers of waste should make sure it does not get handled illegally by their contractors – out of sight should not be out of mind.

“Those exporting waste should be under no illusion – if we find waste being shipped illegally then we will take action.”

Sri Lanka

Customs authorities in Sri Lanka announced they had begun repatriating the 21 containers of waste to the UK on 27 September (see story).

At the time, the containers were reported to contain mattresses, clothing and plastics, as well as some hazardous materials including syringes and some ‘human remains from mortuaries’.

In 2019, Sri Lankan customs spokesman Sunil Jayaratne said that Sri Lanka was preparing to repatriate more than 100 containers of waste from across the world (see story).

The Sri Lankan Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ), an offshoot of Friends of the Earth, launched legal action in July 2019 to get the waste repatriated to the UK.

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Source: Waste Managment