Canada takes next step to bring abandoned waste back from Philippines

From: Environment and Climate Change Canada

May 22, 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario

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

The company will begin preparation for shipping in the coming days. The removal will be complete by the end of June, as the waste must be safely treated to meet Canadian safety and health requirements. The safe and environmentally sound disposal in Canada of the waste material will take place before the end of summer 2019. The costs associated with the preparation, transfer, shipment, and disposal of the waste will be assumed by the Government of Canada.

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.

“Canada values its deep and longstanding relationship with the Philippines and has been working closely with Filipino authorities to find a solution that is mutually acceptable. Canada is pleased to announce that it has awarded a contract to bring the waste back promptly and to ensure its safe and environmentally sound disposal. Canada has amended its regulations to prevent this from happening again and is looking at ways to hold the responsible parties to account.”

– Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Canada and the Philippines have a deep and valued relationship underpinned by the hundreds of thousands of Canadians of Filipino descent. The Filipino-Canadian community has made huge contributions to Canada. As I mentioned to their Foreign Secretary last week, we are committed to resolving this issue as quickly as possible. Today is an essential step forward in accomplishing that.”

– Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Quick facts

  • In 2013 and 2014, a Canadian company, Chronic Inc., exported containers labelled as recyclable plastics 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.

  • 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.

  • Recently, Canada and the Philippines established a joint technical working group to examine options for managing the waste; officials from both countries had a successful meeting in March in Ottawa.

  • On May 10, 2019, the Government of Canada issued a request for proposals to bring the waste back to Canada.

  • Following the competitive process, a contract was awarded to Bolloré Logistics Canada.

  • Preparation and transportation from the Philippines, and handling and disposal of the waste material in Canada, will be carried out in accordance with Canadian requirements, including those of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s International Waste Directive.

  • To prevent future exports of such material, Canada amended the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations in 2016. The amendments now apply to waste that is controlled or prohibited in the country of import; consequently, the shipment sent to the Philippines in 2013 and 2014 would be prohibited today.

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