Ottawa is spending more than $1 million to ship 2,000 tonnes of rotting garbage back to Canada from the Philippines, hoping to bring an end to the diplomatic war over waste before Canada Day.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Wednesday the government signed a contract for $1.14 million with the Canadian arm of French shipping giant Bollare Logistics, to prepare and ship 69 containers of Canadian trash that have sitting in the ports of Subic and Manila in the Philippines for up to six years.
“Canada values its deep and long-standing relationship with the Philippines and has been working closely with Filipino authorities to find a solution that is mutually acceptable,” she said in a statement.
McKenna said the waste must be treated to meet Canadian safety and health requirements, but an official with Environment Canada wouldn’t explain what those requirements entail or whether the waste is currently a hazard to the Philippines. A recent inspection of the containers by the Philippines found all but one of the containers was seaworthy. One container was infested by termites but could be safely moved as long as it was secured on a platform.
The 69 containers are the remainder from 103 shipped by a private Canadian company to the Philippines in 2013 and 2014 and labelled improperly as plastics for recycling.
The other 34 containers have already been dealt with in the Philippines, despite objections from local officials and environment groups. Those groups say the shipment was illegal under the Basel Convention, an international treaty Canada signed to prevent richer nations from dumping their garbage in unsuspecting developing countries.