Canadian rubbish that Philippines rejected in diplomatic crisis arrives back home

Environmental activists who objected to wealthier nations sending rubbish to Asia cheered as vessel left

Jane Dalton
Monday 01 July 2019 09:08
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Environmental activists protested outside the Canadian embassy in Manila last month to push Canada to speed up the removal of the rubbish
Environmental activists protested outside the Canadian embassy in Manila last month to push Canada to speed up the removal of the rubbish

More than 60 containers full of rubbish from Canada have been returned to the country after being stranded for six years in the Philippines, causing a diplomatic row and even threats of war.

Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine president, last month withdrew his county’s ambassador and consuls general and talked of armed conflict after Ottawa failed to retrieve its waste by a 15 May deadline.

A Philippine court had ordered the containers be sent back after it emerged that the waste, such as nappies, had been mislabelled as recyclable plastics.

The 69 container loads, which arrived at a port near Vancouver, are now due to be sent for incineration in the coming days.

A now-defunct Canadian export company originally sent the shipment to the Philippines for recycling in 2013, but eventually it prompted a diplomatic dispute.

Environmental activists who protested against wealthier nations sending their rubbish to Asia cheered as the vessel left port.

Chris Allan, who is in charge of Metro Vancouver’s Solid Waste Operations, said when burnt, the rubbish would be turned into energy – enough to power 100 homes for a year.

Other Southeast Asian countries are also turning away from accepting waste from the West.

In May, Malaysia demanded that the US, Japan, France, Canada, Australia and Britain take back 3,000 tons of plastic waste.

China stopped accepting recycling last year, leading other countries to accept it instead.

Leonora Angeles, of the University of British Columbia, told CBC News the culture of “hyper-consumption” had led to a need for conversations between consumers, governments and industry over packaging.

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