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Sri Lanka has sent 21 containers of waste back to the UK after it was discovered that they were housing hazardous materials, including hospital waste.
The shipment should only have been made up of items such as used mattresses, rugs and carpets ready to be recycled.
These 21 containers, each holding up to 260 tonnes, were part of a shipment imported by a private firm and first arrived in the capital Colombo’s main port between September 2017 and March 2018.
Legal action was taken after the materials were impounded by Sri Lankan authorities in 2018.
Sunil Jayaratne, a customs spokesman, said the original importation breached international and EU rules and regulations on hazardous waste and its disposal.
“The shipper has agreed to take back these 21 containers,” Jayaratne said. “We are working to secure compensation from those responsible for getting the containers into the country.”
England’s Environment Agency said it was committed to tackling illegal waste exports.
Several other countries in the region have recently begun to return waste imported from foreign countries. For example, Malaysia returned 42 shipping containers of illegally imported plastic waste to the UK back in January 2020.