The Canadian government this week said it would take back, at its own expense, some 100 containers, weighing around 2,500 tons, of household waste and used adult diapers that a private Canadian company had shipped here in 2013 and 2014.
This was in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s act of recalling the Philippine ambassador to Canada after Canada failed to meet the May 15 deadline Mr. Duterte had set for it to take back its trash.
“Canada values its deep and longstanding relationship with the Philippines and has been working closely with Filipino authorities to find a solution that is mutually acceptable,” said Catherine McKenna, the Canadian minister of environment and climate change, reported the New York Times. She added that a Canadian company had already been awarded a contract to repatriate the trash.
We will see just how that relationship is valued, not by such lofty—if belated— assurances but by concrete, decisive and swift action.
A similar situation took place in Cagayan de Oro City last year, where some 5,177 metric tons of waste from South Korea was illegally imported by a Cebu-based company.
The Finance Department said Seoul had promised to shoulder the cost of the trash’s return to its origin.
Meanwhile, environment watch group EcoWaste Coalition has raised the alarm over the entry of mixed plastic wastes from Hong Kong, and has requested the Chinese government to look into the matter.
It’s a practice that rankles because nations should ideally deal with their own trash and not ship them to another country, with its own sovereignty and sensibilities. Garbage is exactly that—and it is not even as if we have a dearth of waste materials we need to dispose of responsibly and adequately.
An adage goes: “One man’s garbage is another one’s treasure.” In this case, however, it’s patently false. What nerve countries that send us their trash have. What shamelessness on the part of local companies who import them display.
President Duterte’s tough stance on other nations’ garbage finding their way to our ports is warranted and necessary. It’s an affront to Filipinos, and we must not take the insult deed sitting down.