On Saturday (Sept. 26) 21 freight containers of waste material sent to Sri Lanka in 2017, were shipped back to the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka Customs said on Sunday (Sept. 27).
The measure was taken, based on the instructions of the Attorney General.
“Repatriation of illegally imported 21 containers out of 263 containers was carried out yesterday, in the presence of Director-General of Customs. Those 263 containers were imported by a private party misusing operation facilities, which fall under the purview of the Board of Investments,” Sunil Jayaratne, the Media Spokesperson of Sri Lanka Customs told News 1st on Sunday (Sept. 27).
According to Sunil Jayaratne, the importation of such freight containers is a violation of the “Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal” and rules and regulations of the European Union as well.
The “Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal” usually known as the Basel Convention, is an international treaty designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations.
Under the provisions of a gazette issued in 2013, a total of 263 freight containers of waste material were imported to the country from the UK, in 2017; with the intention of enhancing the commercial value of the material and re-exporting.
According to Sri Lanka Customs, the majority of the freight containers imported to the country, in the guise of used mattresses, in fact, contained plastic and polythene waste.
Jayaratne pointed out that of the 263 containers, only a few were re-exported.
“Sri Lanka Customs detected this case in 2018 and preliminary investigations revealed that those containers had been imported to the country in 2017. Subsequently, this matter, especially with regard to 242 containers were referred to the court, and the court has ordered the repatriation of all these containers as well. Legal proceedings are currently underway in this regard,” Sunil Jayaratne further noted.
However, he emphasized that there were no court cases with regard to the 21 freight containers repatriated yesterday.
According to Jayaratne, this is the first time such a shipment of waste material was returned from the South Asian region; “This is believed to be the first-ever repatriation of such kind of waste shipments from the South Asian region,” he added.
Furthermore, the Director-General of Customs has ordered to take stringent action against those responsible, under the provisions of the Customs Ordinance.