Developing countries are used as dumping grounds by developed ones
"Obviously, Canada is not taking this issue nor our country seriously. The Filipino people are gravely insulted about Canada treating this country as a dump site," says Philippines.
Philippines showed the world that no one can mess with them. The country returned dozens of shipping containers full of trash to Canada. It's the latest southeast Asian nation to reject garbage from developed countries.
“This isn’t plastic!”
Between 2013 and 2014, Canada sent over 100 shipping containers to the Philippines for recycling. There was one problem: the containers were mislabeled as plastics. In fact, they contained municipal waste and were filled with diapers, newspapers and water bottles instead.
Two years later, a Philippine court declared that the 2,400 tonnes of Canadian waste was illegal. In response, Canada said the waste was a private commercial transaction done without the government's consent. This was the beginning of a long-running row that has tested diplomatic ties between the two nations.
Canada agreed to take back the rubbish and necessary arrangements for the transfer were in order. But the Canadian government failed to keep up its word. It missed a May 15 deadline set by Manila, prompting the Philippines to withdraw top diplomats from Canada last week.
"Obviously, Canada is not taking this issue nor our country seriously. The Filipino people are gravely insulted about Canada treating this country as a dump site," said Presidential spokesman, Salvador Panelo.
In April, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to go to war with Canada if its trash wasn’t taken back. He ordered his government to hire a private shipping company to send 69 containers of garbage back to Canada.
"The Philippines as an independent sovereign nation must not be treated as trash by other foreign nations," said Presidential spokesman, Salvador Panelo. If Canada refused to accept its trash, it would be left within its territorial waters.
Before it was too late, Canada hired a company, Bollore Logistics Canada, to carry the waste back to the country as soon as possible," a government statement said, "The removal will be completed by the end of June, as the waste must be safely treated to meet Canadian safety and health requirements.”
Sixty-nine cargo ships containing the waste will take almost three-weeks to reach Vancouver. Canada will pay for the shipping cost of $200,000.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin wrote on Twitter:
Baaaaaaaaa bye, as we say it. pic.twitter.com/VetL4fP4Nj— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) May 31, 2019
Malaysia faced a similar situation. Last year, it became the world's main destination for plastic waste after China banned its import. This disrupted the flow of over seven million tonnes of trash every year.
The country couldn’t keep up after dozens of recycling factories appeared, many without operating licences. With communities complaining about environmental problems, it decided to send nearly 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste back to the countries from where it came. Malaysian officials identified at least 14 countries of origin, including the United States, Japan, France, Canada, Australia and Britain, from where waste was imported.
Developed nations ship off their waste after signing contracts with governments. They may be aware that their rubbish, which is supposed to be recycled, mostly ends up being dumped in poorer, developing countries.
A recycling company based in Britain had exported nearly 50,000 tonnes of plastic waste to Malaysia in the past two years. "We are urging developed nations to review their management of plastic waste and stop shipping garbage to developing countries," said Yeo Bee Yin, Minister of Energy in Malaysia.
Yeo said, “If you ship to Malaysia, we will return it back without mercy." Malaysia has already returned five containers of contaminated plastic waste back to Spain.
What truly happens is that plastic unsuitable for recycling is burnt or ends up in landfills in countries that are incapable of recycling it. This month, about 180 countries agreed to amend the Basel Convention to make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and better regulated.