The General Department of Customs and Excise yesterday said Chungyuen Plastic has “fulfilled all conditions set by the authorities” after the company returned the final batch of containers filled with rubbish back to the United States and Canada.
On July 20, the company was identified as the responsible party behind the import of 1,600 tonnes of plastic rubbish in 83 plastic containers, which were found by the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port authority.
The GDCE said in a statement yesterday the company had gradually returned batches of the containers over the past two months and the final batch was shipped out of Sihanoukville on Sunday.
“First, the company has paid a fine to the state. Second, it had shipped 14 rubbish-filled containers out of the Kingdom on August 20, 2019,” it said. “Third, on September 15, 2019, it shipped the remaining 69 rubbish-filled containers.”
“Chungyuen Plastic Manufacturer Co Ltd has fulfilled all the conditions set by the authorities,” it added.
The GDCE ordered the company to return the containers by August 24 and fined it $250,000. However, the company requested an extension due to weather conditions, pushing the deadline to October 25.
Cambodia has become the latest country to return unwanted rubbish to countries of origin. According to media reports, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia have also done so.
Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra yesterday said the government will always take action against banned rubbish imports.
“The Ministry of Environment welcomes the return of the 83 containers filled with rubbish,” Mr Pheaktra said. “The company already paid the fine.”
“The government encourages recycling rubbish locally produced, but it will not allow them to be imported,” he added.
US embassy spokeswoman Emile Zeeberg yesterday declined to comment on whether or not the containers have reached the US.
“We don’t have any comment about this,” Ms Zeeberg said.
San Daravid, founder of Garbage Youth, an volunteer group aiming to clean the Kingdom, yesterday welcomed the return of all 83 rubbish-filled containers and echoed the government’s message.
“I think returning the plastic rubbish to their origin countries is the right thing to do. If we accepted the rubbish, other countries would continue to export other rubbish here. Our country could become a rubbish-filled country,” Mr Daravid said. “We do not welcome the import of rubbish. [Developed countries] are looking to dump their unwanted rubbish.”
“We only need to recycle our plastic rubbish, especially in Phnom Penh where we have thousands of tonnes of rubbish produced every day,” he added.