Local, Canadian Envi Groups Blast Illegal Waste Importation

Local and Canadian environment
and zero waste advocates today express disgust over the attempted importation
of mixed hazardous waste deceitfully declared as plastic scraps that were
fortunately intercepted by the Bureau of Customs.
“We condemn in strongest
possible terms this unabashed attempt to dump hazardous waste misrepresented as
recyclable plastic into our country,” said Romy Hidalgo, an official of
EcoWaste Coalition and NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste
Management Commission, reiterating that “we are not a garbage dump.”
“This botched illegal
importation violates our Constitution and our major environmental laws,
including R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which prohibits
the importation of toxic waste disguised as ‘recyclable’ or ‘with recyclable
content,” he pointed out.
“It further undermines
complementary efforts of LGUs and Congress to reduce waste, specifically
plastic waste.  On one hand, here we are
uniting to address our increasing plastic waste problems, while on the other,
there are efforts like this that aggravate the situation,” he added.
Presently, more than 90 LGUs
around the country have enacted plastic bag bans, and a national ban is
currently being drafted in the legislative department.  Waste audits conducted by environmental
groups over the years has revealed that about 75% of detritus found in Manila Bay
is composed of plastic waste, 25% of which are plastic bags.
For their part, Global Alliance
for Incinerator Alternative’s Shalimar Vitan lamented that, “countries
like Canada may be beginning to think that the Philippines is the mythical
‘away’ of their ‘throw-away’ culture.  No
community, let alone a country, deserves to be unjustly treated as a dumping
ground.  No community is
“Our national government
should sustain vigilance to ensure this does not happen again,” she added.

In support of their Filipino
counterparts, Canadian activists also expressed their dismay over the illegal
importation of those 50 container vans of waste.
Buddy Boyd of Zero Waste
Canada added that, “we as people of Canada are deeply embarrassed at how
government policies here have caused such bad behaviour by some towards the
environment and the good people of the Philippines.  This is a disgrace.  The governments of Canada have created such
horrible collection methods that the materials collected are often so badly
contaminated many of the greedy haulers think they can export our mess onto
other nations.  We stand with our
brothers and sisters in the Philippines who care about the environment and we
apologize as some governments here [in Canada] see the planet as a ‘toilet’ and
our many neighbouring countries as merely a ‘cheap dumping ground’.  Something is terribly wrong here in
On the other hand, Atty.
Richard Gutierrez of BAN Toxics demanded that, “while we commend the
Bureau of Customs for catching the illegal shipment, we urge the Philippine
government to address the issue in a holistic manner by ratifying the Basel Ban
Amendment to include all hazardous waste and exports for recycling in the
Activists from Whitby, Ontario
in the Durham Region in Canada, the alleged source of the shipment, echoed the
sentiments of their Filipino allies. 
“Whitby and Durham Councils and the Province of Ontario for that
matter should press the federal government to ratify the said amendment to
prevent Canadian/Ontario entities from shipping out unwanted discards to
developing countries, including potentially hazardous mixed plastic scraps
disguised as recyclable plastics,” said Linda Gasser of Zero Waste for
Zero Burning Canada.
Basel Convention is an
international treaty designed to reduce traffic of hazardous waste between and
among nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from
developed to less developed countries. 
While Philippines and Canada are signatories to the convention, both
have yet to ratify the Basel Amendment which expanded the ban of shipments to
wastes meant
for recycling.
Aside from urgently returning
this illegal shipment to their sender, the groups also demanded that the DENR
notifies its counterpart Environment Canada for the violation and press proper
charges against the Canadian shipper and Philippine consignee.  
“We will closely monitor how
our government will respond to this incident,” concluded Hidalgo of the EcoWaste