Aug 19, 2019 | Updated: 12:01 PM EDT

The Philippines Sends 69 Trash-filled Containers Back to Canada

Jun 01, 2019 10:49 AM EDT

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The chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority or SBMA, has praised the reshipment of trash from Canada Friday, saying it was a joyous occasion. Sixty-nine trash-filled container vans that have been in the Philippines for over half a decade are finally en route to where they came from Canada.

The Maersk's MV Bavaria docked in Subic Bay around 3 pm Thursday, and left past 7 am Friday. Aside from the garbage, the ship also has 150 shipping containers as it is taking the regular commercial route. MV Bavaria will make a stop in Taiwan before heading straight to the port of Vancouver in Canada where it is due to arrive on June 22. Canadian media reports have said the garbage will be incinerated in Burnaby.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Chairman and Administrator Wilma Eisma said the departure of the unwanted shipment was a momentous occasion. "We thank President Rodrigo Duterte for his decisive action that brought about a satisfactory conclusion to this sordid chapter in our history. This is one proud moment for all Filipinos," she said in a statement.

She noted that the SBMA documented the whole procedure from the time MV Bavaria docked in Subic's New Container Terminal-1 to the loading of the containers Thursday to the ship's departure.

Groups celebrated the event, saying "We feel jubilant that 69 containers of Canadian rubbish are now homeward bound after being stranded here for so long," said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. "The Philippines is not the world's dumpsite. Never again shall we allow other countries to trash our dignity, our people's health, and the environment."

Kathleen Ruff of RightOnCanada, a rights advocacy campaign based in the North American country, said it was a "victory for the environment and a victory for the rule of law." "The Canadian government is now finally going to comply with the Basel Convention and take responsibility for its own wastes. This is what environmental responsibility means," said Ruff.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro "Teddyboy" Locsin Jr. said Canada paid for fumigation, ship side loading, and shipping, which was estimated to cost around ten million Philippine pesos. The International Container Terminal Services Incorporated waived all costs on land.

MV Bavaria is expected to arrive at the Port of Vancouver in Canada on June 22, after a stopover in Taiwan. Local Canadian press reported the garbage will be incinerated in Burnaby.

The 69 container vans of trash are what remains of the more than 2,500 tons of waste illegally shipped in batches in 2013 and 2014 by Canadian company Chronic Plastics Inc. The company declared the trash in 103 container vans as "recyclable plastic scraps." Customs officials earlier said the contents of 34 container vans have already been disposed of.

Environmental activists from Ecowaste Coalition, however, said only 26 container vans have been accounted for. They called on the government to disclose where the contents of the eight other container vans were dumped. The Manila Regional Trial Court is still hearing cases on alleged violations of environmental and customs laws against Canadian firm Chronic Plastics and customs brokers involved in smuggling the garbage.

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