The Philippines rejects Canada's plan to bring garbage back by the end of June

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Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Published Thursday, May 23, 2019 16:34 EDT

Last updated Thursday 23 May 2019 17:13 CET

OTTAWA – The Philippines rejected Canada's timeline towards the end of June to repatriate its garbage and are carrying out plans to send it back to Canada.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said at a press conference in Manila, Thursday, that the chronology of Canada is not good enough and that the Philippine government will have 69 Canadian waste containers incorrectly labeled in the other part of the Pacific by next week.

At the beginning of this week, Panelo said that President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered containers to be dumped in Canadian waters after Canada failed to meet Duterte's May 15 deadline for dealing with the dispute of nearly six years.

"The garbage will be sent back as soon as possible," Panelo said in Tagalog. "This week or a week later. Definitely not at the end of June."

"We will not allow ourselves to be a garbage dump."

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said on Wednesday that Ottawa commissioned the Canadian office of the French maritime giant Bollore Logistics to treat the waste and bring it back to Canada by the end of June. Environment officials say containers should be fumigated in the Philippines before being loaded onto a ship.

McKenna's press secretary, Sabrina Kim, said Canada is "fully engaged" with the Philippines to "immediately remove waste in Vancouver for disposal".

The contract with Bollore is worth $ 1.14 million, but the Philippines says it will pay to ship the garbage just to get it out of the country.

The containers are the remainder of 103 containers shipped to the Philippines from a Canadian company in 2013 and 2014, falsely labeled as plastics for recycling. The Philippine authorities were alarmed that the amount of material was greater than what could be processed by the Philippine importer and ordered an inspection, finding the containers to be filled mostly with regular waste rather than with any material that could be recycled.

Canada and the Philippines have been fighting since 2014 on what to do with content. The Philippines has recently recalled its ambassador and consuls general until Canada takes care of the waste.

Several environmental groups in Canada and the Philippines claim that Canada has violated the Basel Convention, an international treaty designed to prevent the better-off nations from using developing countries as garbage.

The Canadian company that sent the waste, Chronic Inc., has ceased operations; while officials say they would like to try to get behind to recover some of the costs, this is proving difficult. Chronic Inc. is not believed to have violated Canadian law when it shipped waste.

Prior to 2016, Canadian regulations under the Basel Convention stipulated that the convention applied to shipments to Canada was considered dangerous. Therefore, Canada does not, and still does not, consider hazardous waste. The Philippines do it.

As a result of this case, Canada has changed its rules to prevent this kind of situation from recurring. Now exporters must obtain permits from Environment and Climate Change Canada to ship waste if Canada or the importing country deem it dangerous.

The containers full of rubbish are not so rare, with the Philippines taking care of another shipment of this type this week from Australia. Manila reports say seven garbage bins are now being repelled by the Philippines. That rubbish had to be burned for energy in the Philippines, but the country says it violates its clean air laws.

Last year, South Korea withdrew containers of waste that had ended up in the Philippines in a few months, making negative comparisons with Canada, which had been standing for almost six years.

Duterte also hinted at following China's decision to shut down imports of plastic recycling entirely. China was the largest importer of recyclable plastics, but in 2018 it blocked most shipments because too many of them were contaminated with materials that could not be recycled.

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