Last year saw China, India, and Malaysia closing its door to recycling world’s garbage citing environmental concerns but this is causing the island nation of Sri Lanka to grapple with world’s mounting trash.
The month of July brought the stink of UK’s garbage to the tropical island nation of Sri Lanka. According to reports, a huge consignment of over 100 containers of garbage was imported from the United Kingdom. These 102 containers where left stranded on Colombo port while other 122 containers traveled inwards into the country under the garb of metal recycling.
Soon after on July 20, the customs officials alerted the Sri Lankan authorities about the racket which has been running on its grounds since 2017. According to the customs officials, more than 241 containers have been imported into the country and since May 2019, about 111 of them have been lying abandoned on its ports raising a heavy stink.
By July 22, the customs officials ordered the return of the containers that had loads of hazardous clinical waste which was illegally imported.
The investigation into the smuggled British garbage by Sri Lanka’s Central Environmental Authority, a government agency responsible for pollution control also found another 130 containers unloaded in the Katunayake Free trade zone, near the Colombo International airport. The investigation pointed to Vengaads Ltd, located in Sewardstone gardens in London, and final receiver in Sri Lanka as Ceylon Metal Processing Corporation Ltd, located in Wattala. Both companies are owned by two brothers.
The investigation was just the tip of the iceberg. Another lawsuit by a Sri Lankan agency, Centre for Environmental Justice, in its trial revealed that around 1000 such containers are left unclaimed at the Colombo harbours and customs officials suspects that they too contain biomedical waste.
The racket has been running uninterrupted due to a loophole in the import regulations by the last Sri Lankan government. The All Ceylon Customs Service Union (ACCSU) claims that the Gazette notification No. 1818-30 of 2013 issued by then Finance and Planning Minister and President Mahinda Rajapaksa, under the powers vested in him, has paved the way for large scale import of foreign garbage to the country.
“Some of the materials have been liquidized and deteriorated to the point that we cannot even examine them and the waste is emitting a bad odour,” customs department spokesman Sunil Jayaratne told Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror newspaper.
Jayaratne adds that containers stuffed with used mattresses and plastic and clinical waste imported in violation of international laws governing the shipping of hazardous material. The decomposing waste has triggered concerns about water contamination as the port is close to an estuary.
The recent row between the Sri Lankan and UK authorities is one amongst many in a long queue. After China, which was the leader in recycling West’s waste shut its door, many countries have been pushing their garbage into India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and southeast Asian countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, and Cambodia.
In July, Cambodia announced to send back 83 containers packed with rubbish to the US and Canada. While Malaysia ordered a crackdown on 100 illegal recycling units. Indonesia announced in July it was sending more than 210 tonnes of garbage back to Australia.
West has been the top generator of waste with the US topping the chart. With the climate crusaders waking up to poisoned water, air and land resources, many smaller countries have started to close loopholes and returning the waste to its generators but unless they do not stop generating huge amounts of garbage, no solution will help solve the garbage problem of the world.
Picture credit: MSN