As 69 containers of trash from Canada dumped in the Philippines six years ago are finally being shipped out back to Vancouver after a smoldering diplomatic row between Manila and Ottawa, we acknowledge the unabated efforts of environmental groups on the issue.
Beyond doubt, the resolute muscle displayed by Greenpeace, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, BAN Toxics and the global Break Free from Plastic Movement has paid off.
The sail back to Canada from Subic Bay, the former drydock facility of the US Seventh Fleet, on board the MV Bavaria will doubtless be lengthy, but at least the trash, superciliously labeled as recyclables and sent to the Philippines from 2013 to 2014, are now being returned to sender, addressee well known.
We take the word of Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who welcomed the news of the trash being returned, “We committed with the Philippines and we’re working closely with them.”
Large quantities of waste plastic and other garbage heaps have been redirected to Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines after China, which had received the bulk of scrap plastic from round the world, slammed shut its doors to foreign refuse in 2018 in efforts to clean up its environment.
Von Hernandez, global coordinator from Break Free From Plastic advocacy group, has aptly said, “We’ve seen pristine communities… transformed into dump sites because of a tsunami of waste shipments from the US, UK and Australia as a result of the China ban.”
As the EcoWaste Coalition has said, the Philippines is not the world’s dump site.
And as the hired container ship Bavaria, which sails under the flag of Liberia which now flutters in the sun and rain across the vast Pacific, with tons of garbage on deck, diplomatic observers are seeing a possible reconciliation between Canada and the Philippines.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has advised recalled home diplomats to get ready for their flights back to the land of the maple leaf.
That environmentalists have been relentlessly on the qui vive has done the Philippines a good prop.