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Illegally imported plastic waste returned back to US, Canada

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Authorities returned 83 shipping containers carrying 1,562 tonnes of hazardous plastic waste to their point of origin on Sunday. Photo supplied

Illegally imported plastic waste returned back to US, Canada

All the 83 containers of plastic waste illegally imported into Cambodia by Chungyuen Plastic Manufacture Co Ltd have been returned to their originating countries following a crackdown at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port in July, according to a General Department of Customs and Excise press release.

Monday’s press release said that after the imported waste was found on July 16, the authorities fined Chungyuen Plastic Manufacture and ordered it to return all 83 containers to their countries of origin, which has now been done.

“The company has paid the fine into the national budget and shipped back 14 containers of plastic waste on August 20. On September 15, the company returned the remaining 69 containers.

“Thus, the company has fulfilled all the conditions placed on it by the authorities,” the press release said.

Ministry of Environment secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post that the ministry welcomed the departure of the containers and was pleased the company had paid its fine promptly as required.

He said that the timely crackdown reflected the strong collaboration between the Ministry of Environment and relevant institutions, including the General Department of Customs and Excise and Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, in preventing prohibited goods from being imported into the country.

“I would like to reiterate that the Royal Government of Cambodia will continue to take strict legal measures against the importing of all prohibited items.

“Cambodia is not a dustbin for the disposal of outdated technology, and it has always opposed the import of plastic and oil waste to the Kingdom.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia encourages the recycling of plastic waste from domestic raw materials but does not allow waste to be imported into the country,” Pheaktra said.

Kun Nhem, the director-general of the General Department of Customs and Excise, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

But at a press conference at the department on July 30, he said the 83 containers, weighing a total of 1,562 tonnes, were imported over 17 separate occasions between last September and January.

Seventy containers, weighing 1,322 tonnes, were imported from the US and 13, weighing 270 tonnes, from Canada.

They had passed through ports in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam before reaching Cambodia, he said.

“After checks by the General Department of Customs and Excise and a Ministry of Environment laboratory, the plastic waste did not contain dangerous chemical substances

“Chungyuen Plastic Manufacture is not Chinese-owned and did not employ Chinese nationals.

“The company had rented a building in the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone as its office. It had been recognised as a legal entity by the Council for the Development of Cambodia,” Nhem said.

He added at the time that the company had been ordered to pay a fine of 1,037,500,000 riel ($250,000).