Thousands of shipments stuck at seaports in Ho Chi Minh City and northern Hai Phong City have been found containing massive amounts of low-quality scrap imported from across the world.
Statistics from the General Department of Vietnam Customs showed that nearly 6,000 containers of scrap were left at seaports in the two cities as of August.
The agency previously tightened policies regarding customs clearance in June.
A probe by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper revealed that such containers mainly carry untreated scrap and substandard electronic components that are banned from being imported into Vietnam.
In late July, Tuoi Tre reporters arrived at the IDC Nam Hai Port in Hai Phong, when customs officers were investigating two containers that had been left there for a long time, without any recipient.
An overwhelming stench could be noticed as the officers opened the shipments.
Hundreds of types of plastic bags were pressed into packages inside the containers, along with some empty water bottles that were manufactured in Ireland.
Some kind of liquid was also leaking from the scrap.
|Rubbish is found inside two containers at a port in Hai Phong City. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
The Hai Phong customs unit continued examining five other containers on August 3 and discovered similar contents.
Meanwhile, all of these containers were declared as plastic scrap.
“Such scrap is nothing but garbage and not allowed to be brought into Vietnam,” an insider said.
A circular by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment requires that the scrap be purified and shredded into pieces that are not larger than 10 centimeters.
Used electronic devices and components are banned from import.
On June 19, the correspondents accompanied customs officers at Hiep Phuoc Port in Ho Chi Minh City as they checked several shipments to a company named D. in the southern province of Long An.
The firm declared the imports as scrap made of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) but the officers only found a type of hard plastic and used electronic components.
|Cargo containers at Cat Lai Port in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Phung Chi Sy, an expert on scrap imports, considered the scrap as electronic waste, which is prohibited from being shipped to Vietnam.
At Cat Lai Port, it is also common for customs units to detect such prohibited scrap as old compact discs, used game consoles, and other types of electronic waste.
Many of the recipients are ‘ghost companies,’ thus the products must be destroyed, an officer said.
However, the process is rather costly and it is impossible to determine those responsible.
Scrap from across the world
According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, the Southeast Asian country imported 278,000 metric tons of scrap from various nations across the world in the first six months of 2018.
Japan was the top exporter during this period with 24.8 percent, followed by the United States with 14 percent.
|Electronic waste inside a container is detected at Cat Lai Port in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Scrap materials from South Korea account for 12.6 percent. Another 12.4 percent stems from the UK, Germany, and Belgium.
Thailand and Hong Kong occupy 9.3 and 3.7 percent, respectively.
The probe by the Tuoi Tre reporters also showed that many overseas Vietnamese act as intermediaries in the import of scrap into Vietnam.
In the U.S., Tony Q.L. is a mediator working for Di Trade LLC Company, a partner of several Vietnamese firms, namely Trong Khang, CEM, and QMT-JP Plastic.
Di Trade is capable of supplying large amounts of LDPE scrap. However, the scrap is not purified as required by Vietnamese authorities.
A woman named Hang is another intermediary in Japan, who claims to have a supply of used electronic wires with copper core.
Such scrap contains metal and thus is not allowed to be brought into Vietnam.
In South Korea, Kukje Tradeing Company, a top scrap exporter to Vietnam, often works with its clients via a Vietnamese-Korean woman named Ming.