MANILA – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday addressed the controversy over the garbage from Canada shipped to the Philippines over 2 years ago, saying that a solution is now “being developed.”
Trudeau, who is in Manila for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, said he has already been informed about the trash problem.
“I have obviously been made aware of this situation, and I’ve also been told there is a Canadian solution [which is] in the process of being developed,” said Trudeau in a press conference after the APEC leaders’ meeting.
He is also looking at changes in their laws that will plug the loopholes being used by private companies in Canada to ship out such wastes.
“I know that this has exposed a problem that needs fixing within our own legislation that we’re going to lean into and ensure it will happen,” he added.
Trudeau said revising Canadian laws will help strengthen the Canadian government’s hand vis-a-vis the companies that ship out these wastes.
“Going forward, we need to ensure that if a situation like this were to arise once again, the Canadian government has more power to actually demand action from companies responsible,” he said.
Trudeau said he also wants to ensure good diplomatic relations.
“I believe there are loopholes here that were allowed to be skirted that we need to make sure we close, both for Canada’s interest and for good relationships with our neighbors,” he added.
Chronic Plastics Inc. imported over 50 containers with wastes in several batches in 2013. The company, based in Valenzuela City, sorts and sells recyclable materials shipped from Canada.
A total of 29 of 50 containers filled with trash ended up in a landfill at Capas, Tarlac province.
In April 2014, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) sued Chronic Plastics Inc. for smuggling, and accused the company of misdeclaring as scrap plastic materials for recycling the 50 container vans filled with waste materials.
The BOC had said the shipments included “used mixed and unsorted or ‘heterogeneous’ plastic materials, including household garbage and even used adult diapers, and not homogeneous or recyclable plastic scrap materials as declared by the importer.”
Customs said the shipment weighed about 891.200.6 kilograms, amounting to more than P10 million.
Before Trudeau’s arrival, a Change.org petition resurfaced, calling on Canada’s new leader to take with him the trash shipped to the Philippines.
“Pick up your imported garbage, Canada. It’s the civil thing to do for a first world country like you,” the petition asked.
The petition has since gained over 42, 000 signatures.
Chronic Plastics Inc. was charged with violating Sections 3601 and 3602 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP); Republic Act (RA) 6969, otherwise known as the Toxic Substance and Hazardous Wastes and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990; and, Article 172 in relation to Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines.
RA 6969 bans the importation of hazardous materials into the Philippines while the TCCP holds an importer criminally liable for unlawful importations.
Customs said the “container vans arrived in six batches from June to August 2013 at the Manila International Container Port.”
“It is very clear that these waste materials were shipped to the Philippines illegally. There were violations in the process for importation and misdeclarations made on paper. Moreover, we must be mindful of the threat to public health and safety that these wastes could bring to our people,” said then-Customs Commissioner John Sevilla.