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Environment

69 Containers of Garbage Returned to Canada After Philippines President Says to 'Eat It'


Why Global Citizens Should Care
While this feud between Canada and the Philippines is a recent one, the issue of developed countries sending trash to developing countries is not. Developing countries do not always have the means to properly dispose of garbage, and as a result, it can pile up, causing lasting negative impact on the environment. Join Global Citizen and take action on Global Goal 13 for the climate.

Weeks after Canada announced the garbage it left rotting in the Philippines was headed home, a ship carrying the containers of trash arrived at a port in British Columbia on Saturday, the Canadian Press reported

In 2013 and 2014, a Canadian company called Chronic Plastics Inc. shipped an estimated 103 containers with 2,450 tons of “illegal” waste, stating it was recyclable plastic, according to officials in the Philippines.

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines threatened Canada in April over the illegally dumped trash that was sent to Manila.

“I'll give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that [trash] out … We'll declare war against them, we can handle them anyway,” he said on April 23

“Celebrate, because your trash is coming home ... Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to,” Duterte said

Of the 103 containers, 34 were disposed of in the Philippines. Because Canada missed the May 15 deadline Duterte had set for the remainder of the trash to be taken care of, he recalled the Philippines’ ambassador and consuls from Canada.

In May, Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced the trash was being shipped back to Canada.

It reportedly left the Philippines on June 1 and then, on June 8, was assigned to the Anna Maersk ship in Taiwan for the journey across the Pacific Ocean, arriving at Deltaport near the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, south of Vancouver, according to the CP.

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“The Government of Canada is looking at ways to hold the responsible parties to account,” said a spokesperson from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

Developed countries like Canada have exported their trash to developing countries for many years, with the idea that it will be recycled and processed overseas, but it often ends up in the countries’ landfills instead. 

And in this case, officials in the Philippines say the Canadian company knew it was sending trash — not recyclables.

Related Stories May 23, 2019 Canada Commits to Taking Back Its 'Illegal' Trash in the Philippines

As Canada is part of the 1992 Basel Convention, informed consent is necessary for a developed country to send hazardous waste to a developing country.

Shipping costs for Canada amount to $1.14 million and the country will spend another $375,000 for the trash to be incinerated in Metro Vancouver.