Philippines bans import of garbage from foreign countries amid trash dispute with Canada
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a total ban of waste materials from any foreign countries, instructing the Philippine Bureau of Customs not to accept any garbage shipment in the future, his spokesperson said on Tuesday.
"The president is firm that we are not 'garbage collectors,' thus he ordered that the Philippines will no longer accept any waste from any country," Duterte's spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters during a news conference.
Panelo said Duterte gave the marching orders during a cabinet meeting Monday night where the issue of garbage dispute with Canada was discussed.
The presidential spokesperson said during the same meeting, Duterte reiterated that he gave Canada until May 15 to ship back the 69 containers of garbage that had been sent to the Philippines from 2013 to 2014.
Canada exported 103 shipping containers of garbage to the Philippines in batches from 2013 to 2014, 34 of which have already been disposed of.
According to the Philippine Bureau of Customs, the remaining 69 containers mostly consisted of household garbage and electronic waste, including used adult diapers and kitchen scraps. However, the garbage was misdescribed as recyclable plastic scraps.
The Department of Finance said in a statement released on Tuesday that preparations are underway to return 69 container vans of garbage to Canada by May 15 and Ottawa has agreed to cover the costs. But it added that "bureaucratic red tape in the Canadian government has slowed down the process of re-exporting the trash back to their country."
"However, despite the Philippine government's readiness to re-export the wastes, the Canadian government informed that it might take weeks for them to arrange the necessary documents from their end and that they might not meet the May 15 deadline," the statement read.