The Philippines on Friday sent back tonnes of garbage to Canada after a long diplomatic spat between the two countries that saw Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threaten to dump the waste in Canadian waters. According to the Philippines, the waste was falsely marked as plastic recycling when it was shipped to Manila in 2014, BBC reported.
Canada has agreed to bear the entire cost of the transfer and disposal of the waste exports. Nearly 69 containers of garbage were sent back in a cargo vessel that sailed from Subic Bay, north of Manila.
“I’m crying,” said Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teddy Locsin Jr as the ship left the port. “I am gonna miss it so. Never mind. Another Filipino will find a way to import another batch. Boohoohoo.”
Roughly 1,500 tonnes of repatriated trash will be shipped to the Canadian city of Vancouver before the end of June. The garbage will be treated at a waste-to-energy facility.
“This is a demonstration that we are going to comply with our international obligations to deal with waste that originates in Canada,” Sean Fraser, Canada’s Parliamentary Secretary to the environment minister, was quoted as saying by BBC.
Canada had earlier refused to acknowledge that the waste, dumped in two ports in Philippines in 2013 and 2014, was a point of concern, The Guardian reported. Philippines got support from environmental groups, including Greenpeace and EcoWaste, that went around the Subic Bay carrying a sign that read, “Philippines: not a garbage dumping ground!”
In 2018, the Philippines won a case that ruled Canada had to assume responsibility for the trash. However, no action was taken by the Canadian government. This escalated into a diplomatic dispute, with Duterte demanding that the North American country take back its waste.
The relationship between Duterte and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is already frayed because of the latter’s criticism of the Philippine president’s war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives.
The Philippines is one of the Southeast Asian nations to protest against being a dumping ground for countries, Reuters reported.
On Tuesday, Malaysia said it would return nearly 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste to countries of origin. “Malaysia will not be a dumping ground to the world,” said Yeo Bee Yin, Malaysia’s minister of energy, technology, science, environment and climate change. “We cannot be bullied by the developed countries.”
In 2018, China banned imports of 24 categories of recyclables and solid waste. At the time, it was a dominant market for recycled plastic.