Why Sri Lanka is sending 240 containers of illegal waste to the UK

By: |
November 3, 2020 3:13 PM

Last year the government of the island country asked Britain to take back 100 containers that later had sent in 2017 and contained all kinds of hazardous waste.

Srilanka ships waste, waste exporting developed nation, Basel Convention, Sri Lanka, Uk legal battle, Sri Lanka plea to UKSri Lanka plea said waste waste that was sent by Britain did not comply with the BASEL Convention norms. (Representational Image: PTI Photo)

Sri Lanka is returning to Britain about 240 containers of environmentally hazardous waste containing clinical waste, body parts from mortuaries, used mattresses and cushions, plastic and plant waste and another uncategorised scrap which it claims to have received three years ago. The move comes following a two-year legal battle between the Sri Lankan government and the shippers, reports IE.

Several Asian countries in the recent past have started returning waste imported from developed nations who get rid of their waste at a cheaper price to meet their reducing domestic landfill and recycling targets. Developing countries on the other hand import the waste as a source of income says the report.

What happened with Sri Lanka

Last year the government of the island country asked Britain to take back 100 containers that later had sent in 2017 and contained all kinds of hazardous waste. This came to light when officials complained of disturbing, fetid smell leading to an investigation. The Sri Lankan Centre for Environmental Justice next filed a writ application against illegal activity highlighting severe damage the hazardous waste from hospitals can do to the bio-diversity of the place it is stationed and health hazards they would pose on the country’s general public.

The plea noted that the waste that was sent by Britain did not comply with the BASEL Convention norms and hence the Sri Lankan government has restricted its import. The Basel Convention is a multilateral treaty that was designed to reduce the movement of hazardous waste between countries.

Why Sri Lanka stopped importing waste

Contaminated plastic waste often gets mixed with material that can be recycled, eventually ending up in landfill and illegal processing centres. Chemical contaminants stay in the environment and oftentimes enter the food chain.

Malaysia that also became a leading dumping ground of plastic waste from developed countries have started sending back to the country of its origin, said a Reuters report. Britain, United States, Australia and Japan are the top exporter of plastic waste, the report further said.

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