Group slams shipment of toxic waste from Canada
MANILA, Philippines—Zero-waste advocates on Friday expressed disgust over an attempt to smuggle into the country some 50 container vans of toxic garbage mislabeled as recyclable plastics from Canada.
“We are not a garbage dump,” said Romy Hidalgo, an official of EcoWaste Coalition, and the NGO (nongovernmental organization) representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission.
“We condemn in strongest possible terms this unabashed attempt to dump hazardous waste misrepresented as recyclable plastic into our country,” he said in a statement.
On Monday, the Bureau of Customs intercepted a shipment of 50 container vans of garbage from Canada at the Port of Manila.
In a television report, deputy customs commissioner Ariel Nepomuceno was quoted as saying it was the shipper’s responsibility to take the trash back to Canada.
“This botched illegal importation violates our Constitution and our major environmental laws, including Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which prohibits the importation of toxic waste disguised as ‘recyclable’ or ‘with recyclable content’,” Hidalgo said.
He said it also undermined efforts of local government units and Congress to reduce plastic waste.
At present, more than 90 LGUs around the country have passed ordinances banning plastic bags, while a bill proposing a nationwide ban is currently being drafted in the legislative department.
Waste audits conducted by environmental groups over the years show that about 75 percent of detritus found in Manila Bay is composed of plastic waste, 25 percent of which concists of plastic bags, according to EcoWaste.
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternative’s Shalimar Vitan lamented that “countries like Canada may be beginning to think that the Philippines is the mythical ‘away’ of their ‘throw-away’ culture. No community, let alone a country, deserves to be unjustly treated as a dumping ground. No community is disposable.”
“Our national government should sustain vigilance to ensure this does not happen again,” she added.
Canadian activists also expressed dismay over the illegal importation.
Buddy Boyd of Zero Waste Canada said: “We are deeply embarrassed at how government policies here have caused such bad behavior by some towards the environment and the good people of the Philippines. This is a disgrace.”
The zero waste advocates demanded that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources notify its counterpart Environment Canada about the violation and to press appropriate charges against the Canadian shipper and Philippine consignee.
“We will closely monitor how our government will respond to this incident,” Hidalgo said.
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