Asia Minute: Philippines and Canada Talk Trash

Apr 24, 2019

Credit Tech. Sgt. Brian Ferguson / U.S. Air Force

The president of the Philippines says he’s ready to send about 100 shipping containers of trash to Canada. That’s where the trash originally came from several years ago. 

Trash talk between the Philippines and Canada has turned into a long running diplomatic dispute – now in its sixth year.

Back in 2013, a Canadian company sent about 100 shipping containers of trash to the Philippines — labelled as “plastics for recycling.” A spot check in Manila showed it was really household garbage — from kitchen waste to used adult diapers.

Three years ago, a Filipino court ordered Canada to take the trash back. Canada’s government said it couldn’t compel the private company involved to return the shipment.

Just last week, an official with Canada’s Environment Minister said the country is “strongly committed to collaborating with the Philippines government to resolve this issue.”

In the Philippines, the lack of action has led to growing frustration.

This week, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to send the garbage back himself.

Even in Canada, there are rising voices of skepticism about simply continuing to talk about the issue. The media company the Canadian Press reports that this week several environmental groups are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to simply accept the containers in Canada, and dispose of them there.

Some of the trash has already wound up in a landfill in the Philippines, but other containers remain at or near the port of Manila. Duterte suggests that some of the garbage could be deposited on the grounds of the Canadian embassy in the Philippine capital.