Appeal to Canadian government: Take action on Canadian garbage illegally exported to the Philippines

Wed, Jan 30, 2019

Basel Convention

Kathleen Ruff,

The EcoWaste Coalition of the Philippines, a non-profit environmental network of over 140 public interest groups, is appealing to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take action to resolve a dumping scandal involving the illegal export of wastes from Canada to the Philippines.

In a letter sent to Prime Minister Trudeau, the Coalition points out that despite promises from the Canadian government, including public statements by Prime Minister Trudeau, Canada has failed to take action to deal with 103 shipping container vans of mixed garbage that were illegally exported from Canada and dumped in the Philippines in 2013/14 and left to rot.

“This dumping of Canadian wastes in the Philippines is immoral and illegal”

This dumping of Canadian wastes in the Philippines is immoral and illegal, state the Coalition. They note that this conduct violates Canada’s obligations under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. They point out that in June 2016 a judge ordered the return of the garbage-filled containers, stressing that the Philippines is not a “trash bin”.

Canada’s refusal to take responsibility for the return of its illegally dumped wastes contrasts with the conduct of South Korea, which has acted promptly to have containers of garbage, illegally exported from South Korea to the Philippines in 2018, sent back to South Korea.

The Coalition is calling on the Canadian government to provide a clear and definite date by which it will repatriate its garbage.

“Sending the garbage back to its origin is only just, moral and lawful,” EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator Aileen Lucero

They note that a recent study  carried out by the Basel Action Network (BAN) using GPS devices found that Canadian electronic waste was illegally exported to Hong Kong and Pakistan in violation of the Basel Convention. They call on Canada to ratify the Basel Ban amendment, which prohibits the export of hazardous waste for any reason from more developed countries to less developed countries. The amendment was put in place by an initiative of the developing and European countries and needs the support of only two more countries to come into effect.

Canada is one of only twenty countries that have not supported the amendment.

“We call on Canada to join the European Union in ratifying and implementing the Basel Ban Amendment,” said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of the Basel Action Network. “By doing this, Canada can stop using Asia as a dumping ground and instead become ambassadors of global environmental justice.”

On taking office in 2015 Prime Minister Trudeau promised that his government would show international leadership particularly on environmental issues.

It is time for Prime Minister Trudeau to demonstrate that leadership by taking responsibility for the return of the illegally dumped wastes and by ratifying the Basel Convention amendment.


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