South Korea takes back illegal garbage but Canada remains quiet

January 4, 2019 - 6:53 PM
South Korea agreed to take back its garbage that was dumped in the Philippines on July 2018. (Pixabay/File photo)

As South Korea agrees to shoulder the shipping costs of the garbage that they have illegally dumped to the Philippines, some Filipinos recall the controversial issue of Canada’s own garbage shipped in the country five years ago.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) announced that the government of South Korea will pay the shipping costs of the 6,500-ton garbage to be brought back to Pyeongtaek on January 9. The amount is estimated to be around P2.5 million.

This came after an agreement was settled on December 27 and 28, 2018 between South Korea and the Philippines on who will foot the bill once the tons of garbage would be shipped.

The Korean Ministry of Environment on November 2018 began to undertake legal procedures to bring back the 51-container garbage.

John Simon, a port collector at the Mindanao International Container Terminal, noted that the garbage would be shipped back to South Korea since it was misdeclared by the Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corporation as “plastic synthetic flakes.”

He added that the firm also failed to secure a proper importation permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

BOC on November 2018 found out that the shipment contained plastic, used batteries, diapers and dextrose tubes. It was shipped to the Philippines in Tagaloan, Misamis Oriental on July and October 2018.

The case prompted some social media users to recall a similar case of illegal shipment that has yet to be fully settled since 2013.

Canada’s controversial shipment 

The Manila International Container Port in June to August 2013 and December 2013 to January 2014 received 103 containers from Chronic Plastics Incorporated, an export company in Ontario, Canada.

The shipment was declared to contain recyclable plastic scrap materials. However, BOC on January 21, 2014 discovered that it actually contained an assortment of plastic bottles, plastic bags, newspapers, household garbage, and used adult diapers.

The Department of Foreign Affairs sought the assistance of the Canadian Embassy but the latter noted that Canadian law does not have any provision about returning illegal shipments to its port of origin.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justic Trudeau. (Philippine News Agency/Avito Dalan)

Having received no specific actions from the Canadian government, DENR on June to July of 2015 decided to dump at least 29 containers of the shipment in a landfill at Capas, Tarlac.

The issue was brought up with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when he visited the country in November 2015 for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

However, nothing concrete happened despite him promising that Canada would take it back.

By January 2018, environmental activists headed by the EcoWaste Coalition sent a letter to Trudeau asking him to take back the garbage.

“It’s high time for the Philippines to disallow garbage imports and to demand that developed countries, as well as manufacturers of plastics and other disposable goods, take full responsibility for their products throughout their whole life cycle,” EcoWaste National Coordinator Aileen Lucero said in a statement.