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Customs agencies to crack down on illegal waste trade

Customs agencies to crack down on illegal waste trade

A coalition of customs authorities from 14 countries in the Asia Pacific region will initiate an eight-week crackdown on the illegal trade of waste, the Korean Customs Service (KCS) said Monday.

The nation’s customs agency said the joint effort seeks to raise awareness of what essentially is the “dumping” of garbage traded under the guise of legitimate import or export of recyclables.

The agency said exporters of such waste will no longer be able to avoid accountability in their home countries as detailed data logs will be handed over to respective government authorities.

“Only importers have been punished thus far, mostly following a customs clearance procedure of shipments,” a KCS official said.

“This only identifies the importer, a reason exporters have largely gone unpunished. But that will no longer be the case when customs agencies of 14 countries share information on the illegal practices,” he added.

Participating countries include Korea, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Singapore, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.

The crackdown will begin today and last through May 17.

The move came months after the customs authorities in the Philippines notified its Korean counterparts about a Korean firm that refused to take back what turned out to be a combined 6,300 tons of garbage, not plastics as described in the customs filings.

A joint team comprised of the Ministry of Environment and the KCS oversaw the return of the garbage from the Philippines back to its rightful home, South Korea.

Compensation for the 52 million won ($47,000) expenses incurred will be sought through legal means. The team will refer the case to the prosecution for further investigation.