Science

Philippines ships dumped trash back to Canada

Philippines ships dumped trash back to Canada”

After a long campaign to urge Canada to take back the rotting waste, President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at Ottawa last week and ordered the refuse returned immediately.

He said Canada had moved quickly in recent weeks to deal with the issue, which had dragged on for a number of years after the Philippines government made it "clear this is a very serious priority for them".

Canada had the trash fumigated in the Philippines before it left and agreed to pay CAN$1.14 million to ship it back via the cargo ship M/V Bavaria.

"The government of Canada is taking all the necessary measures to ensure safe and environmentally sound transport, handling and disposal of the waste in Canada", Mark Johnson, spokesman for Canada's environment and climate change ministry, said in an email statement.

Late last week, it was announced that the Waste-to-Energy Facility in Burnaby will be responsible for "securely" disposing of the 1,500 tonnes of repatriated Canadian waste.

It resulted in Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. ordering the recalled Philippine envoys also on Friday to return to their posts in the embassy and the consulates.

As NPR's Bill Chappell has reported, when Canada sent more than 100 shipping containers to the Philippines, the containers were declared to hold recyclable plastic.

"If Canada will not accept their trash, we will leave the same within its territorial waters", Mr. Panelo said.

That the President exercised his sovereign duty to assert the right of the country to determine what comes in and what goes out is an example of foreign policy pursued in the name of Filipinos and their interests, whether economic, social, political or environmental. Tensions arose when Filipino officials discovered that Canada had mislabeled the garbage, sending tons of household waste instead of recyclable plastics. The Canadian government is now considering legal options against the company.

"Developing countries don't want to receive plastic goods, they don't want our waste", she said.

Greenpeace Canada also says the import data from the Malaysian government suggests Malaysia is documenting more waste-plastic imports from Canada than Statistics Canada is reporting as exports to Malaysia, raising doubt that Canada has any true understanding of what plastic waste is going out and where it is ending up.

Arguably, local and foreign pro-environment groups played a significant role in resolving the garbage stand-off, and we believe their contribution should be acknowledged.

Malacañang sees a possible reconciliation with Canada as Canada's trash shipment begins its journey back to the North American country.

Malaysia, the world's main destination for plastic waste after China, said on Tuesday it would return as much as 3,000 tonnes of waste back to the countries of origin.

Both Malaysia and the Philippines are looking at their own importing businesses as part of the problem - companies that get paid to take plastics for recycling but then just dump them in landfills or burn them.



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