Waste dumped illegally returned to UK
Sri Lankan officials shipped the final batch of illegally imported waste back to the UK on Monday. The containers had been sent from Britain to the South Asian nation claiming to contain “used mattresses, carpets and rugs,” when they were actually filled with unwanted biowaste.
The 45 containers, containing thousands of tons of the illegally imported material, were loaded onto a ship at Colombo port. The country’s customs official has announced the removal of the last portion of the “hazardous cargo” that had been misleadingly dumped in Sri Lanka.
Between 2017 and 2019, the shipments had been transported from the UK to Sri Lanka, claiming to contain normal household waste, when actually they were filled with hospital biowaste, including body parts, officials claimed.
The waste had reportedly been sent to Sri Lanka under the guise of being sent to a local company which was set to recover material from the “used mattresses” before reshipping it to manufacturers abroad. However, Sri Lankan authorities found no credible evidence that “resource recovery” took place.
Monday’s shipment completes a years-long returns process, which began in September 2020 when customs officials sent 21 containers filled with medical waste back to the UK.
Authorities argued that the materials had been illegally dumped in the country, violating international law governing the movement of hazardous waste.
A 2019 investigation in Sri Lanka found that 180 tons of waste sent to the South Asian country had later been reshipped to India and Dubai.
Sri Lanka is among a number of countries in the region that have returned dumped waste, with the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia having taken similar steps.