EcoWaste Coalition Denounces New Garbage Shipment from Canada, Urges the Authorities to Stop Waste Dumping Disguised as Recycling

Quezon City. The discovery of more garbage shipment from Canada by customs authorities has ignited fresh calls for the government to decisively act against the illegal traffic in waste that is turning the Philippines into a virtual dumpsite.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental watchdog for chemical safety and zero waste, urged the government to get to the bottom of the illegal waste trade after the Bureau of Customs (BOC) uncovered 48 more container vans of imported garbage left unclaimed at the Manila International Container Port.

After intercepting 50 container vans of mixed Canadian wastes last year, the BOC uncovered the 48 vans of supposed plastic scraps that arrived in four batches from December 2013 to January 2014 as reported by the agency.

The first 50 container vans were consigned to Chronic Plastics, Inc. located in Valenzuela City, while the other 48 container vans were consigned to Live Green Enterprise based in San Fernando City, Pampanga.

“With our country still reeling from the unsettled 50-van garbage shipment that Canada refuses to re-import, we find this latest episode of waste dumping just as outrageous and unacceptable,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We expect nothing less than an open and transparent investigation on this matter, the prosecution of the offenders and the immediate return of the botched garbage consignments to Canada,” she added.

“The authorities must leave no stone unturned to obtain environmental justice for our nation and bring the illegal waste dumping, camouflaged as recycling, to a halt,” she stated.

“Our government should use all means to get the garbage deliveries, now totaling 98 container vans, shipped back to Canada at once and dismiss outright any proposal to have them landfilled or incinerated in the Philippines,” she pointed out.

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier commented that “it’s not enough for the garbage-filled container vans to be taken from one site to another (for disposal) and burden the unfortunate local government unit with a problem not of its making.”

Manila City Council last May 14 adopted a resolution urging the immediate removal of Canada’s garbage from the port area with Councilors DJ Bagatsing and Numero Lim stressing that “Manila is nobody’s dumping ground nor junkyard and the City shall never condone any entity, whether it be Canada or another, to dump their rejects here in whatever shape or form.”

Also, on May 14, veteran Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago filed a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the government should use the “Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal” in negotiating with the Canadian government over the illicit garbage dumping issue.

The Basel Convention, which Canada ratified in 1992 and the Philippines in 1993, “aims to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects resulting from the generation, transboundary movements and management of hazardous waste and other wastes.”

As she stated in Senate Resolution 1341, Santiago said that “the arduousness of complaint or arbitration mechanisms before an international tribunal should not hinder the government from asserting that the export of wastes from Canada violates the Basel Convention.”

Echoing the sentiments of environmental, labor and church leaders, Santiago warned that “the decision to process the waste in the Philippines upon the request of the Canadian government sets a dangerous precedent for other countries to dump their waste in Philippine soil with impunity.”