A massive shipment of Canadian trash is causing a stink in the Philippines, where local activists say it was illegally offloaded, according to the Inquirer.
The 50 industrial containers of household trash, including kitchen garbage and used adult diapers, first arrived in the Philippines in 2013, and have been sitting in the port of Manila until a few days ago when, the Inquirer reports, 29 of the containers were taken to be dumped at a landfill in another part of the country.
The owner of the recycling company that shipped the containers, Chronic Inc., has denied all allegations that he sent household trash. In the Toronto Star, Jim Makris said his shipment contained only recyclables, mostly plastics, sent to be processed at a local recycling plant he owns. The Toronto Star reported:
He added that “anyone with a brain” could see that it makes no sense to ship garbage overseas. It costs $40 per tonne to dump garbage in Canada, but $80 per tonne to ship his recycling material to the Philippines, he said.
Local environmentalists and politicians are not happy that the Canadian waste seems to be staying in the Philippines. “I will not tolerate this matter sitting down,” Leah Paquiz, a member of the Philippine House of Representatives, said in a statement to the National Post in October last year. “Pick up your garbage Canada, and show us the decency that we so rightfully deserve as a nation. My motherland is not a garbage bin of Canada."
In March and again in May this year, activists held protests in Manila calling for the garbage to be shipped back to Canada. And meanwhile, this Change.org petition suggests that another 48 containers of waste arrived in the Philippines from Canada in the same month.
Both Canada and the Philippines are signatories to the Basel Convention, which stops countries from shipping household waste overseas unless they have an agreement in place–something Greenpeace Philippines and other environmental groups say Canada did not have in this case.
Environment Canada, the government agency in charge of of waste management across borders, said that under the Basel Convention only toxic waste being shipped to the Philippines requires a specific license. Since the trash in this case isn’t toxic, there is no legal requirement for Chronic Inc. to have a permit.
“In this case, we have requested that the owner remove his shipment from the Philippines,” a spokesperson told Fusion.
Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs said they worked with the Philippines government to find a solution, and that the local government there “considered options to dispose of the shipment in accordance with its laws and regulations.”
“Currently there are no domestic laws which the Government of Canada could apply in this case to compel the shipper to return his containers of mixed household recyclables to Canada,” a spokesperson told Fusion.