Canada’s garbage is coming home from the Philippines.
Canada has made a formal offer to have more than six dozen containers of Canadian household trash returned to the Port of Vancouver nearly six years after it was sent to Manila labelled incorrectly as plastics for recycling.
The Canadian offer came around the same time as the Philippines ordered its Bureau of Customs to get the containers back on a ship bound for Canada no later than May 15.
Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to “declare war” on Canada if it didn’t take back its trash and set this week as a deadline for an end to the impasse.
“I will declare war against them,” he said at the time in a video broadcast by RTVM, the media arm of the president’s office. “I will advise Canada that your garbage is on the way. Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to … your garbage is coming home.”
Duterte’s colourful comments were matched by his foreign secretary Teodoro Locsin, who tweeted this week that he is going after the Filipino importers who brought the trash into the country but dismissed suggestions they should be sent to Canada with the garbage because that would be “too much pollution.”
Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Adam Austen says Canada hasn’t received a formal reply to the offer to bring the garbage back but Locsin tweeted that the garbage would be on boats by May 15 “no ifs or buts.”
Canada is a party to the UN Basel Convention, which is meant to reduce transfers of hazardous waste to developing nations without their consent.
In 2016, Canada strengthened its regulations around hazardous waste shipments to include the obligation to take back waste shipments that cannot be completed as planned.