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'It's coming back': Environment Minister on Philippines garbage dispute

FILE: Filipino environmental activists wear a mock shipping container filled with garbage to symbolize the 50 containers of waste that were shipped from Canada to the Philippines in 2013 and 2014, as they hold a protest outside the Canadian embassy in Makati, metro Manila, Philippines, on Thursday, May 7, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Aaron Favila
Summary

A stinky diplomatic standoff may soon be over.

69 shipping containers filled with Canadian waste are en route to Vancouver

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says there is an important lesson from this conflict

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Filipino officials say a ship loaded with household waste is on its way to our country, in the ongoing garbage dispute between Canada and the Philippines

Sixty-nine shipping containers filled with trash have been loaded onto a ship, which is now making a 20-day journey to Vancouver.

The containers had been falsely labelled as recyclable plastics, but were actually filled with rubbish, including used diapers.

For the last six years, they sat in a Filipino port, rotting away as Canadian and Filipino authorities argued over what should be done with them.

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

RELATED: Canadian garbage will depart Philippines for Vancouver later today

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.

Experts call for ban on waste exports

Meanwhile, 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.