Customs officials in Mindanao have returned the smuggled waste shipment to Hong Kong on board MV SITC Negoya and is expected to arrive in China’s special administrative region Monday next week.
The return of the mixed waste was coordinated with the Environmental Protection Department of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
The expenses in the reexportation was also shouldered by the Hong Kong government.
The shipment consigned to Crowd Win Industrial Limited Corp. arrived at the Mindanao Container Terminal Sub-Port in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental on Jan. 2.
On Feb. 18, an alert order was issued by Cagayan de Oro collector Floro Calixihan against the shipment for alleged violation of Section 1400 (Misdeclaration) of the Republic Act 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
Upon examination, authorities found 22 sling bags of mixed plastic waste inside the 1x40 container contrary to its declaration of assorted electronic accessories.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency was also invited to inspect the container to determine the possible presence of illegal drugs but turned out to be negative.
The repatriation of the botched waste export from Hong Kong followed the long overdue departure last Friday of 69 container vans of Canadian garbage after languishing in the Philippines for six years.
Last Monday Port Collector John Simon of the Mindanao Container Terminal officiated the reexport to Hong Kong of 25,610 kilograms of mixed plastic waste packed in 22 sling bags that were wrongly declared as “assorted electronic accessories.”
“Today, we are shipping back one container van of mixed garbage consisting mostly of plastic scraps and shredded electronic parts to their source. The export of this hazardous waste from Hong Kong in the guise of ‘assorted electronic accessories’ is illegal under the laws of Hong Kong and the Philippines and the Basel Convention,” said Simon.
Environmentalist group Ecowaste Coalition lauded the Customs bureau for the immediate reexportation of the controversial shipment.
“By quickly returning the illegal waste shipment and skipping bureaucratic delay, our nation is sending a clear and unambiguous warning to waste traffickers to stop sending other countries’ wastes into our ports,” said Aileen Lucero, Ecowaste National Coordinator.
“We heaved a sigh of relief as the entry of some 70 containers of similar trash was aborted with the seizure of this test cargo,” she said.
“The strong presence of local civil society groups in this important event indicates a growing concern among Mindanaoans against the use of the region’s ports as entry points for waste imports from overseas. We encourage them, the local authorities and the general public to keep a close watch over illegal waste traffic in the region,” Lucero added.
To protect Mindanao and the entire country from turning into a global dumping ground, the group renewed its call for a comprehensive and immediate ban on waste imports and for the rapid ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment.
The Basel Ban Amendment, which has yet to enter into force, aims to prohibit the export of hazardous wastes and other wastes from developed to developing countries for any reason, including recycling. From the list of eligible countries, including the Philippines, only two more country ratifications are needed for the amendment to enter into force.