EPD strictly combats illegal collection, handling, import and export of hazardous electronic waste

Hong Kong (HKSAR) -      An electronic waste (e-waste) collector, a recycling site operator and two traders, who illegally collected, handled and imported and exported hazardous e-waste respectively, were convicted and fined a total of $96,000 at Fanling Magistrates' Courts on January 2 andtoday (January 9) respectively for contravening the Waste Disposal Ordinance (WDO) and the Waste Disposal (Chemical Waste) (General) Regulation.

     The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) conducted a series of enforcement operations last May and June to combat illegal collection, trading, handling and import and export of various types of hazardous e-waste. During the period, EPD staff intercepted a collector who was illegally collecting chemical waste including waste printed circuit boards (PCBs) at Lung Kwu Sheung Tan in Tuen Mun; illegal handling of waste PCBs by a recycling site at San Tin in Yuen Long; a truck illegally transporting chemical waste including waste lead-acid batteries (LABs) at Tai Shu Ha Road East in Yuen Long, which were intended for export illegally to Malaysia; and, in an operation in collaboration with the Customs and Excise Department, hazardous e-waste including waste flat-panel displays (FPDs) illegally imported from Poland at Kwai Chung Container Terminals. The total market value of the hazardous e-waste intercepted in the above operations was about $1.4 million.

Upon in-depth investigation and evidence gathering, the EPD initiated prosecutions against the responsible person of the recycling site, the e-waste collector and the traders.

     An EPD spokesman said that the department has all along been taking stern enforcement action in accordance with the WDO in combating illegal collection, handling and import and export of hazardous e-waste. In 2017, 231 successful prosecutions were made against such offences, with one of the offenders being sentenced to two weeks' imprisonment. The total fine for the prosecution cases was over $1.6 million.

All illegally imported containers intercepted were returned to the states of origin following international practice.

     The spokesman explained that hazardous e-waste, including waste FPDs, waste LABs and waste PCBs dismantled from electrical appliances, contains heavy metals (such as lead and mercury) and other toxic chemicals. Improper handling of such waste can cause harm to the environment and public health.

     The spokesman reminded all waste collectors, importers and exporters and operators of recycling sites that chemical waste producers should register with the EPD in accordance with the WDO and the Regulation. 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 valid permit has to be obtained from the EPD for importing or exporting such waste (including transshipment through Hong Kong). 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.

Published on: 2018-01-09

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