Inter-departmental efforts in combating illegal collection of hazardous e-waste result in successful prosecutions against recycling site operators

     An operating company and the responsible person of a recycling site in Yuen Long, who were involved in illegal collection and storage of a large quantity of hazardous electronic waste (e-waste), were convicted by Fanling Magistrates' Courts today (March 7) for contravening the Waste Disposal (Chemical Waste) (General) Regulation. The recycling site also failed to comply with the statutory notice to deliver the chemical waste to a licensed chemical waste disposal facility for disposal. The company and the responsible person were fined a total of $52,500.
     An Environmental Protection Department (EPD) spokesman said that in the inter-departmental enforcement operation entitled "Operation E-spark" in May last year, the EPD and relevant enforcement departments conducted surprise inspections at open waste recycling sites in North District and Yuen Long in the New Territories. During the joint operation at four recycling sites, the EPD intercepted a large quantity of hazardous e-waste controlled under the Regulation, including more than 10 000 waste LCD monitors, waste cathode ray tubes (CRTs) and waste lead-acid batteries, with an estimated total market export value of $1.5 million. Upon completion of the investigation and evidence collection, the EPD prosecuted the operating companies and responsible persons of the four recycling sites for possessing the above chemical waste in violation of the Regulation.
     In addition to the recycling site convicted today, two other recycling sites have already been convicted and were fined a total of $45,000 in December last year while prosecution for the remaining site is still in progress.
     The spokesman said, "The EPD has been very concerned about the illegal collection of hazardous e-waste in recycling sites. We will continue to take stringent enforcement action against those recycling sites which illegally collect, store, dispose of, import or export hazardous e-waste to protect the environment. In addition, the EPD will continue to combat illegal activities at recycling sites through surprise inspections and joint blitz enforcement operations with relevant departments."
     General use and selling of LCD monitors, CRTs, printed circuits boards and rechargeable batteries will not constitute danger. However, as such waste contains various hazardous substances and heavy metals (such as mercury, cadmium, lead and toxic organic compounds), they are classified as chemical waste. Improper handling of such waste will cause harm to the environment and public health. If a recycling site is involved in the collection, storage, disposal of, importing or exporting of such hazardous e-waste, such activities are regulated under the Waste Disposal Ordinance and the Regulation.
     The EPD reminded the recycling trade that if their sites involve collection and disposal of hazardous e-waste regulated by the Regulation, they must register with the EPD in accordance with the law. Chemical waste must be properly packed, labelled, stored and collected by licensed chemical waste collectors for delivery to the EPD's licensed chemical waste disposal facilities for disposal. Otherwise, it will constitute an offence. First-time offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $200,000 and six months' imprisonment.
     Members of the public may visit the EPD's website for more information about the control of chemical waste:

Ends/Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Issued at HKT 18:52