Rubbish shipment at centre of international spat arrives back in Canada

Containers of ‘recyclables’ shipped to Philippines held waste including disposable nappies


A ship carrying 69 containers of waste which had been mislabelled as “plastic recyclables” returned to Canada on Saturday from the Philippines, closing a chapter on a dispute that started in 2013 and sparked a diplomatic furore between Ottawa and Manila.

The shipment was taken off the container ship Anna Maersk, docked close to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, and arrived at GCT Deltaport in Delta, British Columbia, part of Greater Vancouver, GCT said in a statement.

Sarah Lusk, Metro Vancouver spokeswoman, said the waste would be sent to a Waste-to-Energy facility in Burnaby where it will be incinerated, but added that there was “uncertainty with respect to timing” and the facility may not receive the waste over the weekend.

The waste containers became part of a diplomatic dispute between Manila and Ottawa, as the Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte threatened Canada with war and withdrew top diplomats from Canada after that country missed a May 15th deadline to take back the waste.

The waste was shipped to the Philippines in 2013 and 2014 and mislabelled as recyclable plastics. Instead, the containers were full of garbage, including used disposable nappies and newspapers. A Philippine court ruled in 2016 that it had to be returned.

Canada made arrangements in late May to accept the containers and said they hired Bollore Logistics Canada to safely bring them back as soon as possible.

Waste disposal has emerged as a topic of political dispute between Southeast Asian countries and the developed world, with Malaysia in May becoming the latest to demand states such as the United States, Japan, France, Canada, Australia and Britain take back 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste.

Environment and Climate Change Canada, a government department, told Reuters earlier this month the government was in talks with Malaysia to recover plastic waste there that originated from Canada. – Reuters