Skip to main content

Canada’s garbage is coming home from the Philippines.

A spokesman for Global Affairs Canada told The Canadian Press on Thursday that Canada made a formal offer earlier this week to have more than six dozen containers of Canadian household trash returned to the Port of Vancouver. The containers arrived in a port near Manila in 2013 and 2014 improperly labelled as plastics for recycling, and have sat in limbo ever since while the two countries disagreed about how they should be disposed of.

The Philippines’ Bureau of Customs found that the containers contained only about one-third plastics that could be recycled. The rest was mostly household garbage and electronic waste, including used adult diapers and kitchen scraps.

Story continues below advertisement

The Canadian offer came around the same time as the Philippines ordered its Bureau of Customs to get the containers back on a ship bound for Canada no later than May 15.

“We’ve recently made an offer to quickly repatriate the waste back to Canada for disposal and we await a formal response from the Philippines government,” spokesman Adam Austen said.

The developments move the two countries closer to a solution to the diplomatic dispute that has seen Canada spend nearly six years trying to get the Philippines to deal with the trash there. The Filipino government pushed back, arguing the shipments were a violation of the Basel Convention, an international treaty forbidding developed countries to dump their waste on the developing world.

Last month, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to declare war on Canada if it didn’t take back its trash and set this week as a deadline for an end to the impasse.

His spokesman later said the threat of war was just a figure of speech to underscore how upset Mr. Duterte is about the matter, but the Philippines did suggest 70 years of bilateral relations with Canada were at risk because of the trash.

Mr. Duterte’s Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin is giving him a run for his money on his combativeness, though, saying on Twitter this week that the government will “nail” the Filipino company that imported the trash to begin with.

He said he was going to “reject the suggestion to ship them out in a container of garbage,” however, because “that’s too much pollution.”

Story continues below advertisement

On Wednesday, Mr. Locsin said the garbage would leave the Philippines no later than May 15, “no ifs or buts.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been pushed about the garbage on two visits to the Philippines, in 2015 and 2017. He said the first time that Canada had no legal way to force the Canadian company to deal with the trash, then in 2017 said it was “theoretically” possible for Canada to do something.

But it was another year before a working group was established between Canada and the Philippines to sort out the matter. The central disagreement was over who would pay for the shipments, with Canada arguing it would only take responsibility once the containers were back in Canada. Canada has argued the Filipino importer should cover the return shipping costs.

Mr. Austen did not say what the details of the Canadian offer were, including who will pay for the garbage’s trip back across the Pacific or how much it will cost. Once it’s on Canadian soil, though, Environment and Climate Change Canada will be responsible for ensuring the waste gets disposed of properly.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter