The environmental health group EcoWaste Coalition lauded the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for its assurance to complete the re-export of the illegal plastic waste shipments from South Korea that entered the country in 2018.
Citing information from the website of the Department of Finance, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero reiterated BOC’s firm commitment to get the illicit wastes re-exported to their source, the group said.
“Rest assured that the Bureau will undertake all the necessary means, within the bounds of law, in order to expedite the re-exportation of these wastes,” Guerrero told Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
According to the BOC, the Philippines has so far succeeded in re-exporting 2,676 of the 5,177 metric tons of the illegal South Korean waste to their origin.
To date, 151 container vans of waste materials, amounting to 2,676 metric tons, have been returned to South Korea in batches. The latest batch, consisting of 50 containers, was dispatched on March 21, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
“We commend and support the efforts of the BOC, particularly Customs District 10, to pursue the re-export of the unlawful waste shipments as agreed upon with the government of South Korea despite the many hurdles that have to be crossed, including the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “We hope the overdue re-export of SoKor’s waste in the country will be completed soon.”
BOC-10 District Collector John Simon, the official behind the country’s relentless drive to re-export the South Korean wastes, had earlier explained that the container vans where the bagged wastes were supposed to be loaded arrived late due to the disruption of the international trade supply chain in China caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The remaining South Korean plastic trash in Misamis Oriental is a stark reminder of the country’s continuing problem with imported waste and the need for decisive measures to stem the tide of waste dumping into our ports,” Lucero said.
According to the report “Waste Trade in the Philippines” co-published by Greenpeace and the EcoWaste Coalition and released last month, “the country’s exposure to continued waste imports is concerning.”
“No waste importation ban or moratorium is in place—despite recent strong pronouncements regarding such measures by the President as well as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),” the groups lamented.
“Also, the government still has not undertaken steps to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, an international policy instrument that will additionally protect the country from the importation of all waste, including those shipped under the guise of recycling,” the groups pointed out.
According to the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace, “preventing the entry of all waste imports into the country (including waste labeled for recycling) is the best strategy for countries such as the Philippines to protect its citizens and the environment from the harmful impacts of waste dumping.”