69 containers loaded with waste, sent to the Philippines and falsely labeled as recyclable material. Canada has agreed to cover the full cost of their transfer. The garbage will be treated at a Vancouver waste-to-energy plant. A growing number of countries across Southeast Asia are calling on Western nations to recover their garbage.
Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Philippine government today sent 69 containers laden with waste back to Canada. The move puts an end to a long diplomatic dispute that saw President Rodrigo Duterte threaten to "sail to Canada and dump the garbage there".
In April, the Philippine president had attacked Ottawa on waste, shipped between 2013 and 2014 in what the North Americans consider a trade agreement. The cargo - labeled as plastics to be recycled in Manila - was actually composed of diapers, newspapers and water bottles. Canada has agreed to cover the full cost of their transfer and disposal. Waste containers travel on the MV Bavaria (photo), a merchant ship set sail from Subic Bay, port and former US naval base north of Manila. The approximately 1,500 tons of garbage will arrive in the Canadian city of Vancouver by the end of June, to be treated at a local waste-to-energy plant.
Canadian Environment Minister, Catherine McKenna, welcomed the waste shipment. "We have made a commitment with the Philippines and are working closely with them," she said yesterday. Sean Fraser, secretary to the ministry, says: "This is proof that we are respecting our international obligations to address the issue of waste produced in Canada". Fraser reports that in recent weeks Ottawa has moved quickly to deal with the problem, which dragged on for several years after the Philippine government called it "a very serious priority".
A growing number of countries throughout Southeast Asia are calling on Western nations to take back the rubbish sent to their shores, claiming that part of it has crossed the borders illegally. The amount of garbage exported by developed countries came to light after China, which had imported most of it for years, introduced the "ban on foreign garbage". As a result, the garbage - often classified as recyclable through counterfeit shipping notes - was sent to other developing countries, which they now begin to reject. A few days ago, Malaysia announced that it will return 450 tons of plastic waste to countries such as Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United States.