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Philippines rejects Canada’s late-June timeline for garbage repatriation

May 23, 2019

The Philippines has rejected Canada's late-June timeline for repatriating its garbage, and is moving forward with plans to ship it back to Canada itself.

The Philippines has rejected Canada's late-June timeline for repatriating its garbage, and is moving forward with plans to ship it back to Canada itself.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told a media briefing in Manila on Thursday that Canada's timeline isn't good enough and that the Philippines government will have 69 containers of mislabeled Canadian trash headed back across the Pacific no later than next week.

Earlier this week, Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the containers dumped in Canadian waters after Canada missed Duterte's May 15 deadline to deal with the nearly six-year-old dispute.

"The trash will be sent back the soonest," Panelo said in Tagalog. "This week or a week after. Definitely not the end of June."

"We will not allow ourselves to be a dumping ground of trash."

On Wednesday, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Ottawa has contracted the Canadian office of the French shipping giant Bollore Logistics to treat the waste and then bring it back to Canada before the end of June. Environment officials say the containers must be fumigated in the Philippines before being loaded onto a ship.

McKenna's press secretary, Sabrina Kim, said Canada is "fully engaged" with the Philippines to "promptly remove the waste to Vancouver for disposal."

The contract with Bollore is worth $1.14 million but the Philippines says it will pay to ship the trash back just to get it out of the country.

The containers are the remainder of 103 shipping containers sent to the Philippines by a Canadian company in 2013 and 2014, falsely labelled as plastics for recycling. Philippine authorities were alarmed that the amount of material was more than the Philippine importer could process, and ordered an inspection, finding the containers to be filled mostly with regular garbage rather than any material that could be recycled.

Canada and the Philippines have battled since 2014 about what to do with the contents. The Philippines has recently recalled its ambassador and consuls general until Canada deals with the waste.

Several environment groups in both Canada and the Philippines argue Canada violated the Basel Convention, an international treaty designed to prevent wealthier nations from using developing countries as trash heaps.

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