No entry for illegal e-waste

Illegal import: A worker inspecting some of the e-waste in the container shipped from the US at the NBCT in Butterworth.

GEORGE TOWN: The importer that shipped in a container filled with e-waste from the United States has been ordered to have it sent back as it was brought in illegally.

Penang Environment Department (DOE) director Sharifah Zakiah Syed Sahab said in a statement that a notice was issued for the container to be sent back after DOE and Customs officers inspected it at the North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT) on Monday.

“Among the waste found in the container were damaged electronic screen pads, disassembled circuit boards and fuse boxes.

“We discovered that the container was shipped from the US and issued a notice for it to be returned under Sections 31 and 37 of the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

“If the importer fails to adhere to the order, we will take strict action without further notice,” she said.

Under the Basel Convention, an international treaty drafted to reduce the movement of hazardous waste between nations, prior approval from the recipient country and the transit country is required for the importation of any scheduled waste, including e-waste.

“Any waste must be treated or disposed of in the country of origin unless there are specific reasons like the absence of waste treatment facilities in their respective countries.“Even then, approval must be obtained from the respective country’s DOE before it can be sent for disposal.

“Any party found to have imported scheduled waste, including e-waste, into Malaysia without prior informed consent from the DOE director-general will have committed an offence under Section 34B of the Environmental Quality Act 1974, which carries a fine of up to RM500,000 and a jail term of not more than five years upon conviction,” said Sharifah Zakiah.

The import of e-waste into the country is banned unless it is brought in under conditions as stated in Part I of the Third Schedule of the Customs (Prohibition of imports) Order 2017.

“The disposal of e-waste must be done in accordance with certain methods as the waste contains dangerous materials such as heavy metals that can pollute the environment if not handled properly,” said Sharifah Zakiah.

Meanwhile, a check showed that efforts to stop the import of plastic waste had borne fruit.

On imported plastic waste being held at NBCT, Penang Port Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Sasedharan Vasudevan said compared to about 500 containers of illegal plastic waste a few years ago, there were now only up to 40 containers left.

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