CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 7 September 2019

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Good riddance to bad rubbish

MANILA (UCAN): The 69 containers of trash—tons of garbage that were illegally shipped to the country in 2013, which were the target of several protests by activists and Church groups, were finally shipped back to Canada from the Philippines on May 31.
 
“Today marks a high point in our nation’s history … after nearly six exasperating years of struggles for environmental justice and the rule of law,” the EcoWaste Coalition said in a statement.
 
Aileen Lucero, coordinator of the group, said: “We say with conviction that the Philippines is not the world’s dumpsite.”
 
She said that the ordeal “has taught us the urgency of correcting outmoded regulations allowing waste imports into the country under the guise of recycling.”
 
Church leaders had earlier joined calls for the return of the waste cargo to Canada, saying that no community deserves to be a dumping ground for toxic waste.
 
From 2013 to 2014, at least 103 shipping containers from Canada were intercepted in the Port of Manila containing mixed waste including non-recyclable plastic, wastepaper, household waste, electronic waste and used adult diapers—materials classified as hazardous under the Philippines’ Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste and Control Act.
 
The importation of the shipments was in violation of the Basel Convention, as the contents of the cargo were mis-declared as recyclable.
 
However, Greenpeace said that while the return of the dumped waste was a positive development, only a little more than half, or 69 containers, of the malodorous shipment was sent back.
 
The contents of at least 26 containers were already emptied into landfills in the Philippines at the time when Canada disowned responsibility for the shipment, Another eight containers were also disposed of locally.
 
Aside from the controversial Canadian waste, shipments containing garbage from South Korea were discovered in October 2018.
 
After campaigning by environmental groups in both the Philippines and South Korea, the respective governments agreed to ship back part of the waste in January.
 
The remaining 5,177 metric tons of garbage are still sitting in the province of Misamis Oriental awaiting a return to sender.
 
In May, shipments of waste from Australia and Hong Kong were also discovered in Mindanao.
 
Environmental groups have already called on the Philippine government to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, which prohibits the import of all waste for any reason including recycling.
 
The groups also called on the government to ban all waste shipments.

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