Canada ends trash tiff with the Philippines

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(From ABC News)

Before it could turn into a full on diplomatic trash war, the Canadian Government has announced that it has awarded a contract to a company to begin the work of shipping back the tons  of trash it illegally shipped to the Philippines from 2013 to 2014.

Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announced this week that the Government of Canada awarded the contract to Bolloré Logistics Canada to safely bring the waste back to Canada as soon as possible.

According to the government, “Canada values its deep and longstanding relationship with the Philippines and continues to work with that country to ensure a swift resolution to this important issue of promptly repatriating waste exported to the Philippines by a Canadian company.

The removal will be complete by the end of June, according to the Canadian government, as the waste must be safely treated to meet Canadian safety and health requirements. The Canadian Government will bear the costs associated with the preparation, transfer, shipment, and disposal of the waste.

In 2016, Canada amended its regulations to prevent future exports of such material without a permit. Canada is also looking at ways to hold the responsible parties to account.

“The Government of Canada maintains ongoing discussions with the Government of the Philippines to ensure a positive outcome to this issue in a timely fashion. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, spoke to her counterpart Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Teodoro Locsin, last week to reiterate Canada’s firm commitment to promptly repatriate the waste to Canada,” according to the statement.

The announcement came after the Philippine Government recalled its ambassador and consuls in Canada over the failure to remove the trash shipments. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gave Canada until May 15 to take back the containers. When Canada failed to do so, Duterte threatened to forcibly ship the containers of garbage back to Canada and dump some at its embassy in Manila.

Protests also erupted in Manila in front of the Canadian embassy this week as environmentalists criticized Canada for not lifting a finger addressing the situation.

Around six years ago, a Canadian company, Chronic Inc., shipped the containers to two importers in the Philippines. The shipment contained a mixture of plastics, metals, and paper, as well as household waste.

While the export of such material was allowed under Canadian regulations at the time, the import of mixed plastics and household waste is prohibited under Philippines regulations, according to the Canadian government.

In 2016, courts in the Philippines ordered the importers to ship the containers back to Canada at their expense; the importers did not comply with the court order.