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Banned? Indian ports 'received' 38 US plastic waste containers reexported from Indonesia

By Rajiv Shah
An Indonesia-based international environmental watchdog group has dug out what it has called “a global pollution shell game”, stating how officials in Indonesia approved re-exports of “illegal” US waste shipments containing plastics mainly to India, as also to other Asian countries -- Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam -- instead of returning them to the US “as promised.”
An investigation by Nexus3, forwarded to Counterview, said that hundreds of containers arrive in Indonesia from the US and other developed countries carrying wastes, some of which were recently seized by the country’s authorities as “illegal and improper due to the fact that they contained plastic wastes and hazardous waste contaminants in the paper scrap.”
The investigation provides the container number of each of the containers tracked, the date of export from the US, and the date of final arrival in India and other Asian countries. The containers went to Asian countries instead of the US despite the fact that the Indonesia government issued a press release on September 19 calling these “illegal shipments”, stating, these would be returned containers to their countries of origin, said Nexus3.
Nexus3 said, it found Indonesia had received in all 70 containers carrying waste which were sought to be returned to their countries of origin. Using shipment tracking techniques provided by the Basel Action Network (BAN), a global waste trade watchdog group, Nexus3 “discovered” that of the 58 containers that came from the US, 38 were diverted to India instead of sending them to US.
Commenting on the development, Nexus3 quoted Dharmesh Shah of the Global Alliance for Incineration Alternatives (GAIA) in India as saying, "In India, we thought we had banned the import of plastic wastes. Now we see more coming in through a back door.” Shah insisted, “These shipments from Indonesia must be the subject of an international inquiry."
A global network, GAIA claims to represent more than 800 grassroots groups, NGOs and individuals across the world. It envisions zero waste and seeks community rights for a toxic pollution free environment. 
As for the other containers, three were sent to South Korea, and one container each to Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Canada. Only 12 of the 58 containers were returned to the US, as promised by the Indonesian government, said Nexus3, which claims to work to “safeguard the public, especially the vulnerable population, from health and the environmental impact of development, towards a just, toxic-free, and sustainable future.”
Giving further details, Nexus3 said, of the 38 containers sent to India, 26 “arrived in Adani, Mundra, Gujarat, India on September 6, 2019”, while the rest “arrived at Gateway Terminals India APMT Jawaharlal Nehru, Maharashtra, India on August 24, 2019, and then were taken by a truck to their final location of Kanpur Concor CFS, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India on September 14, 2019.”
Nexus3 said, the original US waste shipments were imported by the Indonesian paper recycling companies PT Mega Surya Eratama and PT Surabaya Mekabox located in East Java. Upon arrival they were deemed illegal by Indonesian authorities when they were found to contain large amounts of plastic and hazardous wastes mixed into what was supposed to be paper scrap. Of the 58 containers came from the US, 25 were shipped by the Cosco Shipping Line, 13 by the Maersk Shipping Line, and 20 more by the Hyundai Line.
Jim Puckett, executive director, BAN, which tracked the return pathways of the “illicit” containers for Nexus3, said, "It is an international norm that illegal waste exports are the responsibility of the state of export, in this case the United States, and the exporting state has the duty to reimport the wastes. In this way the exporters can be prosecuted for any illegality and the problem can actually be solved rather than simply passed on to other unsuspecting victim countries and communities."
Said Nexus3, “It remains unknown whether the US government was informed of the illegality of the exports to Indonesia, or whether the governments where the wastes actually ended up were notified and able to consent to their import. It is further unknown whether the receiving facilities were even capable of environmentally sound management of the wastes.”

Comments

Uma said…
What are the customs officers doing?

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