EcoWaste Coalition Asserts Need to Ban Foreign Waste Imports to Protect Public Health and the Environment

The environmental health group EcoWaste Coalition has renewed its plea for the government to ban waste importation without further delay to send a clear and unequivocal warning that the Philippines is no longer accepting other countries’ trash.

The group, an advocate for a zero waste and toxics-free society, specifically urged the government to expeditiously ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, an international law banning the export of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries, and to issue a national waste importation ban.

“While our country has ratified the Basel Convention in 1993, we still have not ratified the Basel Ban Amendment that was adopted in 1995 and entered into legal force in December 2019. By ratifying the said amendment, which is designed to fix the recycling loophole in the treaty, we protect our territory from becoming a dumping ground for hazardous wastes and other wastes camouflaged as ‘recyclables’ that could no longer enter China and other countries,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Our current laws are not strong enough to shield us from waste traders in search for cheap recycling and disposal options in developing countries like ours. We need a stronger defense against the entry of hazardous wastes and other wastes, including plastic waste, which could be better managed in exporting countries,” she said.

“The string of waste controversies that rightly angered our people justifies a clear and unequivocal policy warning waste traders and traffickers that it’s no longer ‘garbage business as usual’ in the Philippines,” she pointed out.

Lucero cited the entry of so-called “plastic scraps” from Canada, “plastic synthetic flakes” from South Korea, “assorted electronic accessories” from Hong Kong, and “municipal wastes/processed engineered fuel (PEF)” from Australia, as clear indicators of the need to overhaul the national policy on the importation of foreign waste.

“Banning waste imports will be for the greater interest of the nation,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“Beyond banning waste imports, we support stricter monitoring of imports to ensure that no waste is brought in under false declarations,” the group further said.

The group noted that neighbouring countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam have taken various actions to stop the flow of hazardous wastes and other wastes into their ports.

“To effectively deter illegal waste trade, we urge the ASEAN to initiate a regional response fully banning waste imports in the entire economic bloc,” the group suggested.