A Hong Kong importer caught illegally importing 9 tonnes of hazardous electronic waste from the US has been fined HK$10,000 (US$1,280) for contravening Hong Kong’s Waste Disposal Ordinance (WDO).
Hong Kong Cheng Ron Trading Company was caught after the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) intercepted an imported container from the US at the Kwai Chung Container Terminals in June this year. The container was claimed to contain metal scrap, but upon inspection it was found to be loaded with hazardous e-waste comprising waste batteries, with a weight of about 9 tonnes. The EPD immediately returned the intercepted container to its place of origin and notified the relevant local authority to follow up. The department also instigated prosecution against the importer in accordance with the WDO.
Hong Kong is a major centre for illegal e-waste smuggling, according to the Basel Action Network (BAN), a group which works to end trade in toxic waste. BAN’s October 2018 report “Export of e-Waste from Canada” estimated as much as 62% of its GPS-tracked e-waste containers ended up in the city between 2008 and 2013. “We quickly became aware of the role of Hong Kong as a major smuggling port and the use of the New Territories area for staging facilities for the scrap equipment,” says the report.