Canada does U-turn on garbage shipped to Philippines

The North American country will take back 69 containers of waste that the Philippines says was illegally dumped five years ago

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Environmentalists had protested outside the Canadian embassy in Manila for Canada to retrieve its waste.

Environmentalists had protested outside the Canadian embassy in Manila for Canada to retrieve its waste. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Canada has agreed to retrieve tons of refuse it shipped to the Philippines between 2013-2014.

Canada's federal environment minister Catherine McKenna announced on Wednesday (May 22) that the government has contracted a shipping company to return 69 containers of household and electronic waste to the North American country.

The Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in April signaled his intention to declare war against Canada if the country did not take back the tons of garbage it exported to the Philippines over five years ago.

Government officials claimed the refuse was shipped illegally, and set Canada a May 15 deadline to collect it. A week after the deadline passed, Duterte on Wednesday (May 22) asserted that he would hire a private shipping company to dump the garbage into Canada’s territorial waters.

The containers were initially shipped to Manila by a private Canadian-based company. Manila accused the company of falsely labelling the containers as containing plastic, when in fact they were filled with household waste.

After an inspection in 2015 that found they contained non-hazardous municipal and street garbage, the government declared them a threat to public health. A Filipino court ordered the waste to be shipped back at Canada’s expense, according to the BBC. The waste will be completely removed by the end of June, at a shipping cost of CAD$1.14 million (USD$847,740).

Taiwan continues to battle its own waste disposal problems. According to figures from the Control Yuan, Taiwan imported over 400,000 tons of waste plastic in 2018.

After China implemented a ban on the import of 24 types of waste in January last year, many countries began streaming their recyclable materials to Taiwan. The Environmental Protection Agency has been subject to criticism for not adequately managing the problem.