EPD strictly combats illegal import and handling of hazardous electronic waste (with photos)

     Three importers who illegally imported hazardous electronic waste (e-waste) from the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and the Dominican Republic, and two recycling site operators who illegally handled hazardous e-waste, were convicted and fined a total of $107,000 by Fanling Magistrates' Courts today (August 22) for contravening the Waste Disposal Ordinance (WDO) and the Waste Disposal (Chemical Waste) (General) Regulation.
     During the period from December last year to February this year, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) conducted a series of enforcement operations to combat the illegal import, export and handling of hazardous e-waste. In collaboration with the Customs and Excise Department, the EPD intercepted three imported containers with hazardous e-waste at Kwai Chung Container Terminals. The e-waste, comprising waste printed circuit boards (PCBs), waste toner cartridges, waste flat panel displays and waste batteries, was found to have been imported to Hong Kong without a valid permit. The EPD also took enforcement action in Yuen Long and intercepted a large quantity of chemical waste including waste PCBs, waste flat panel displays and waste cathode ray tubes at two open recycling sites there. The total market value of the hazardous e-waste intercepted during the above operations was about $1.6 million. Following a thorough investigation and collection of evidence, the EPD initiated prosecutions against the three importers and the two recycling site operators concerned.
     The EPD spokesman said that the department has all along been taking strict enforcement action in accordance with the WDO in combating illegal import of hazardous e-waste into Hong Kong. Offenders will be prosecuted and all illegally imported containers that are intercepted will be returned to the state of origin following international practice. The spokesman stressed that dismantled or damaged PCBs, LCD monitors and cathode ray tubes are hazardous e-waste that contains heavy metals and other toxic substances. They are hazardous by nature and, if not properly handled, will pollute the environment and pose a risk to the health of relevant trade practitioners and the general public. Hence, the Government has been applying stringent control of the import, export and recycling of hazardous e-waste in accordance with the law.
     The spokesman reminded importers of the waste recycling trade and operators of recycling sites not to illegally import hazardous e-waste into Hong Kong for whatever purpose (including import into or transshipment through Hong Kong), or illegally handle chemical waste. According to the WDO, it is an offence for anyone to import (including transshipment) or export hazardous e-waste without a valid permit. Recycling sites should register with the EPD in accordance with the law if they produce chemical waste. Chemical waste must be properly packaged, labelled and stored, and has to be collected by licensed chemical waste collectors for delivery to licensed chemical waste disposal facilities for disposal. A permit has to be obtained from the EPD for exporting such waste to designated chemical waste facilities overseas for recycling or disposal. First-time offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $200,000 and six months' imprisonment. For subsequent offences, offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $500,000 and two years' imprisonment.

Ends/Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Issued at HKT 18:36