Illegally shipped waste returned from Sri Lanka to UK

The Environment Agency has announced that a consignment of 21 waste containers, which was illegally shipped to Sri Lanka in 2017, has been successfully repatriated to its point of origin in the UK.

The Sri Lankan authorities found the containers held illegal materials among mattresses and carpets, which had been exported for reuse. 

UK shipping portWith the shipment having recently arrived back in the UK, EA enforcement officers are seeking to find the type of waste illegally shipped and who exported it. The EA has said the perpetrators could face unlimited fines, a custodial sentence of up to two years and the recovery of any assets and money gained from the export.

In 2018 and 2019, the EA prevented almost 13,000 tonnes of waste from being exported illegally from the UK, having clamped down on this issue in 2017. However, south-east Asia continues to be a recipient of illegal waste exports.

Malcolm Lythgo, Head of Waste Regulation at the Environment Agency, conveyed a message targeting waste criminals: “We are determined to stop this illegal trade and we have officers inspecting waste shipments at ports across England every day. Wherever we find illegal activity, we stop the waste being exported.

“There are stringent international rules in place to stop contaminated waste being shipped to unsuspecting countries which could harm their citizens and the environment, and we will be thoroughly investigating this consignment to track down those responsible. Producers of waste should make sure it does not get handled illegally by their contractors - out of sight should not be out of mind.

“Those exporting waste should be under no illusion – if we find waste being shipped illegally then we will take action.”