PM MAY BE IN FOR TRASH TALK AT SUMMIT
Environmental groups incensed about Canadian trash dumped in the Philippines four years ago want Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “take it back with him” after he attends this week’s APEC summit.
Canadians may not be aware their garbage is such a hot- button issue in the Philippines, but it was important enough to have been the focus of a campaign promise by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016.
Now environmental groups want him to make good on that promise to take out the Canadian trash.
The containers from the Vancouver area were delivered in 2013 and labelled “scrap plastic materials for recycling,” but Filipino customs officials found rotting household waste in them. Environmental groups have said the containers were filled with adult diapers, hypodermic needles and all manner of hazardous materials.
The 103 containers garbage are reported to total about 2,500 tonnes and an environmental group called BAN Toxics has said that 26 of those containers were disposed of in a private dump in 2015.
“Canadian trash has been rotting in the Port of Manila for several years. Trudeau should take it back with him home to Canada,” said Anna Kapunan, of BAN Toxics, in a press release on Thursday.
There is no scheduled meeting between Trudeau and Duterte at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which both men are attending Friday and Saturday, but leaders often pull each other aside for informal chats at these kind of summits.
Garbage is an ongoing problem in the Philippines, with Duterte complaining last year that mayors in the country weren’t doing enough to clean up their cities. “There is trash and garbage around and ... you have to wait for the plastic to go inside the drainage every time there’s a downpour and excessive rain water,” he told local media.
In 1999, Philippine officials intercepted 120 Japanese shipping containers found to be packed with waste. The Japanese government chartered a ship to repatriate the garbage and vowed to prosecute the company responsible.
The issue also hits a raw post- colonial nerve, with environmental groups and Filipino activists framing the issue as rich countries like Canada and Japan using poor countries as a dumping ground.
Richard Gutierrez, the CEO of BAN Toxics, has said that richer countries take advantage of the lack of technical equipment in poor countries to scientifically determine if hazardous waste is present.