Experts call for ban on waste exports after Philippine garbage embarrassment

By The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — One of Canada’s foremost experts on the garbage industry says the only way to stop Canadian trash from ending up in foreign ports and landfills is for Canada to ban waste exports altogether.

Queen’s University professor Myra Hird runs a research group on Canada’s waste systems and says while an international treaty trying to keep wealthy countries from unloading their waste on the developing world might help, it doesn’t stop unscrupulous people from making big bucks by bucking the rules altogether.

Canada’s garbage didn’t end up in the Philippines because people followed the rules, Hird says.

That garbage — which led to a diplomatic confrontation between Canada and the Philippines — is now making its way back across the Pacific Ocean to Vancouver after languishing in two ports in the Philippines for nearly six years.

WATCH: Philippines ships back Canadian trash

NDP MP Gord Johns says Canada is not being a good neighbour by continuing to allow Canadian trash to be handled by some of the poorest countries in the world.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is vowing to crack down on plastic pollution but thus far has not committed to barring the export of waste completely.

“Developing countries no longer want to take waste from developed countries,” said McKenna, noting there is an important lesson to be learned from this conflict. “That’s a good thing, it’s coming back to Canada.”

The Filipino president threatened war on Canada, and their foreign secretary recently threatened to burn down the village of anyone that got in the way of this ship.

The Trudeau government had offered to take the garbage back in June, but that wasn’t fast enough for Filipino officials.

McKenna says the trash will be put to good use.

“It will go to a waste energy facility so the good news is that it will be used to fuel homes,” she adds.

The Canadian Press, with files from Cormac Mac Sweeney

Top Stories

Top Stories