Sri Lanka becomes new entrant to send back waste from Western Nations

The Sri Lankan Government is raising voice against the Britain’s government to withdraw from dumping hazardous waste in the island country.

Sri Lanka is urging the UK government to immediately pick up 100 containers of waste which includes syringes, putrid waste of mattresses, plastics, clothes and also human remains from mortuaries.

Reports suggest some of the containers have been sent from the UK dating back to 2017. After port official’s complained that the 111 containers were emitting a fetid smell, authorities had taken an urgent action “to order the re-export of the 111 containers abandoned at the port”, by the importer.

“Some of the materials have been liquidised and deteriorated to the point that we cannot even examine them and the waste is emitting a bad odour,” reported Customs Department spokesman Sunil Jayaratne to Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror newspaper.

However, report from UK’s Environment Agency suggest that the UK had not yet received a formal request by Sri Lanka to repatriate the waste. As per reports, the containers were imported by a Sri Lankan businessman and he was now put in charge for re-exporting them.

Sri Lanka’s decision of re-exporting the waste to the West is just one of the many episodes of Asian Countries who have become intolerant to idea of Western nations dumping their waste in the name of recycling.

In 2018, China exempted from accepting foreign plastic waste for recycle. Remarked as an eye-opener for other developing nations, Philippines in May also exported 69 containers to Canada and refused to accept the nation’s waste falsely labelled under plastic recycling.

As a protest, a team of environmentalists and Buddhist monks protested outside British High Commission in Colombo on Wednesday. Reports suggest, a small group was also allowed to enter the High Commission along with a letter of request to the High Commission to take the waste back.

“I am here to protect the future of my country and my children. We are finding it difficult to dispose of our own garbage,” commented Manjuri Sumitrarachi, who was part of the protest. “This is a third-world country, we are struggling with so many issues, and how can we be responsible for somebody else’s garbage?”

“We understand that the waste contains some chemicals. There was a video showing how some of the waste material is seeping out,” reported Avishka Sendanayake, a consultant on climate change, who participated in the demonstration on Wednesday. “I want the UK government to take responsibility and we want the Sri Lankan authorities to send them back.”

“Sri Lanka is not your dump yard,” read of the other signs of the public protest.

On the other hand, the UK Environment Agency suggests that it will not repatriate waste, unless it is proven that the containers were exported illegally from England, or if those who exported could either be identified or a formal request from the foreign authority was made. Reports allege of sanctions against those who were responsible for illegally exporting the waste.

“Individuals found to be exporting incorrectly described waste can face a two-year jail term or an unlimited fine,” an Environment Agency spokesperson said.