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PH environmentalists hopeful Trudeau will abide by pledge

Updated

By Chito Chavez

Environmental group EcoWaste Coalition welcomed today the pronouncement of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicating that the garbage shipments from his country would be sent back to its origin.

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada speaks during the 72nd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York on September 21,2017. (AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / MANILA BULLETIN)

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada speaks during the 72nd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York on September 21,2017. (AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / MANILA BULLETIN)

“We welcome the fact that he discussed this drawn-out dumping controversy with President Rodrigo Duterte and committed to follow up on the matter. Like many of our colleagues, we are cautiously optimistic that Canada will be able to take their garbage back, but they should do it with greater urgency, and commit to making sure such unethical and unlawful dumping never happens again in the future,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Lucero said that the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition and its partners in the environmental justice movement will remain alert to ensure that the garbage shipments are returned to Canada.

She added environmental groups will not let their guard down knowing that the re-export of the trash shipments is only a theoretical possibility at this time.

Zero Waste Canada, a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to helping end the age of wasting through better design and education, recently emailed the EcoWaste Coalition affirming its “support in this much too long ordeal,” saying “we will continue to shine a light on this until it is resolved.”

Trudeau on Wednesday told the press “it is now theoretically possible to take it back,” adding the legal obstacles had been addressed.

“Canadian legal regulations prevented us from being able to receive the waste back to Canada. We had legal barriers and restrictions that prevented us from taking it back, but that’s done now,” he said, noting “there’s still a number of questions around, (such as) who would pay for it.”

“Compared to the vague statement he made in 2015 on the sidelines of the APEC Summit, what Trudeau said this time offers a glimmer of hope for a country like ours that is struggling with our own garbage woes,” Lucero observed.

Trudeau disappointed environmentalists when he vaguely stated in 2015 that a “Canadian solution” is being developed, but made no firm declaration of re-importing his country’s garbage.

“We trust the Canadian government will be able to quickly address the remaining financial and legal questions, so as not to delay the shipping of the overstaying trash back to Canada. We have waited for so long and we want to put this controversy behind us,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairman, Mother Earth Foundation.

For her part, Abigail Aguilar, Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said: “While we appreciate the sound byte, we hope that this pronouncement does not remain a ‘theory’ but a ‘fulfilled promise.’ The Canadian waste issue has long been swept under the rug. This stinking problem needs to be resolved as soon as possible and we hope that it does not wait for another two years, another APEC or ASEAN Summit for it to happen.”

It will be recalled that a total of 103 shipping containers of mixed household garbage declared as scrap plastics for recycling arrived in the Philippines from Canada in 2013-2014.

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