Canadian Garbage Scow Departs the Philippines, Heading to Return Trash to Canada
100 containers of Canadian Trash - household trash, plastic bottles and bags, newspapers, and used adult diapers - were shipped to the country as "plastic scraps" between 2013 and 2014.
June 3, 2019
Manila (dpa) – A cargo ship carrying rubbish dumped in the Philippines by Canada more than five years ago, causing a diplomatic row, left the South-East Asian country on Friday.
The Liberian-flagged MV Bavaria, a private ship hired by the Manila government, set off from Subic Bay port, 50 miles north of Manila, to Vancouver with 69, 20-ton containers.
The ship will take more than 20 days to reach the Canadian city, said Wilma Eisma, chairman and administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.
"Finally, the containers of garbage transported from Canada and stored at the Subic Bay Freeport for several years now have been pulled out," she said in a statement. "This is one proud moment for all Filipinos."
More than 100 containers of waste from Canada - consisting of household trash, plastic bottles and bags, newspapers, and used adult diapers - were shipped to the country and mis-declared as plastic scraps between 2013 and 2014.
Canada had insisted then that the dumping was not supported by its government and that it was a private transaction.
The Philippine government has repeatedly demanded that Canada take the waste back, but no definite resolution has been offered by Ottawa.
Due to the inaction, the Philippine government earlier in May recalled its ambassador and consul-general to Canada and instructed heads of government offices to refrain from issuing travel clearances for official trips to the North American country.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said the return of the trash was "the end of the matter" and that he recalled diplomats to book their flights back to Canada.
"There's more than garbage between us," he tweeted. "I can't thank Canada enough – but I won't take back the garbage."
"To our recalled posts, get your flights back," he added. "Thanks and sorry for the trouble you went through to drive home a point."
Environmentalists have hailed the return of the rubbish to Canada as a "strong message" to the international community that the Philippines is not "the world's dumpsite."
Greenpeace said the Canadian rubbish problem has put a spotlight on how developed countries have exploited weak national regulations and loopholes in international law to dump waste in poor nations.
It called on the Philippine government to take tougher action against waste shipments and ratify the Basel Ban Agreement to send a strong message that the Asian country is not a dumping ground.
"We also need to plug internal loopholes," Greenpeace spokesperson Lea Guerrero said Thursday. "The waste shipments that have been exposed in recent years are likely only the tip of the iceberg."
Aside from Canada, countries including South Korea, Australia and Hong Kong have been shipping garbage to the Philippines since China closed its doors to waste importation in 2018, Greenpeace said.
Across the board in South-East Asia, plastic waste exports dropped to 5.8 million tonnes in January to November 2018, from 12.5 million tons in the whole of 2016, according to Greenpeace.
But it noted, that the drop "in part means 'recyclable' plastics will continue to stockpile or head for improper disposal at home."