Sri Lanka has returned the garbage containers to Britain which the government says were brought to the island in violation of international law for the transport of hazardous substances.

The 21 containers – with up to 260 tonnes of trash – arrived for the first time by boat at the main port of the capital Colombo between September 2017 and March 2018, customs officials told AFP, adding that they had left for Britain on Saturday.

The contents of the container include used mattresses, rugs and carpets, but and also contain hospital waste, officials said.

Customs did not reveal the type of hospital waste, but the previous illegally imported containers contained rags, bandages and body parts from the morgue, officials said.

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Another 242 containers from Great Britain, which the government says contain illegal waste in violation of international law, remain at the same port and in the free trade area outside Colombo. They arrived in 2017 and 2018.

The government is currently taking legal action against the shippers to move the 242 containers from the country.

Last year’s Sri Lanka investigation into nearly 3,000 tonnes of illegally imported hazardous waste found that importers shipped about 180 tonnes to India and Dubai in 2017 and 2018.

In recent years, several Asian countries have refused to be treated as trash by the rich world, returning trash containers from overseas.

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