Sri Lanka returns illegally imported waste to UK

Colombo, Feb 21 (EFE).- Sri Lankan authorities on Monday completed the process of returning 263 containers of waste that had been sent illegally from the United Kingdom between 2017 and 2019 to be disposed off in the island nation.

The last 45 containers of the waste were sent back to the UK, having first been discovered in 2019, as they violated the Basel Convention and the provisions of Sri Lanka’s National Environmental Act and Customs Ordinance, according to a statement issued by the customs authorities on Monday.

More than 100 of the containers had been left stranded at the Colombo port for months, while others were stored in premises owned by a private company.

“Most of the garbage was municipal waste and gave off a strong stench,” Sudattha Silva, the deputy director of Sri Lanka Customs, told EFE.

He added that the containers were shipped back to Britain on Monday morning by the vessel Ever Genius, which had arrived at the Colombo port a day earlier.

Silva said that the shipment had been delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions and because some shipping lines refused to transport waste, as legal provisions mandate the companies to obtain approval from the environment ministry to import waste as well as meet rigorous sanitary requirements.

The waste was first found after an investigation launched in 2019 by the social protection division of Sri Lanka Customs, and after an environmental nonprofit filed a petition that the containers be returned to the UK, a Sri Lankan court issued an order in this regard in 2020.

Since then, Sri Lankan authorities have been investigating the incident. EFE


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