Plastic Waste Shipped Out, but Destination Unclear

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Containers filled with plastic waste at the Sihanoukville port on July 16, 2019

The first 14 out of 83 containers of plastic waste imported to the country, supposedly from the U.S. and Canada, have been sent back to their countries of origin, the customs department said.

The containers departed Cambodian shores during the night of August 20, the department said in a statement, but shipments of the remainder had been delayed due to poor weather and overcrowding of goods on the docks.

The others would be sent back some time before October 25, it said.

The department did not, however, specify to where, exactly, the trash was destined.

In July, after unveiling the containers filled with about 1,600 tons of plastic waste to media, the Environment Ministry said the plastic waste was originally from the U.S. and Canada and had been sitting in containers in Sihanoukville for seven to 10 months.

The governments of the U.S. and Canada have said they were seeking more information from the government and have not confirmed that the containers were filled with their trash.

A local company, Chungyuen Plastic Manufacture, was fined $255,000 under Cambodia’s customs, environmental protection and solid waste management regulations for importing the waste.

In its latest statement, dated Friday, the customs department said Chungyuen had paid its fine as well as all applicable port and shipping fees.

Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra referred questions to customs department director-general Kun Nhim, who could not be reached.

Canada’s environment department did not immediately reply to an emailed request for comment. U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Emily Zeeberg on Monday declined to answer questions about whether any of the containers had originated in or were shipped to the U.S.

Additional reporting by Nat Sopheap and Matt Surrusco

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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