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  • Demonstrators display placards and an image of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a protest at the Canadian Embassy in the Philippines.

    Demonstrators display placards and an image of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a protest at the Canadian Embassy in the Philippines. | Photo: EFE

Published 3 May 2019
Opinion

The six-year dispute consisted of Canada attempting to pressure the Philippines in disposing of the trash themselves.

Over six dozen containers holding Canadian household garbage that were delivered as recyclable plastics to the Philippines, in 2012 and 2014, will be returned to the Port of Vancouver after sitting in Manila for years. 

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The formal request to return the trash-filled containers back to Canada was made earlier this week, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada told reporters. 

When it came to the attention of the Philippines' Bureau of Customs that the recyclables only made up about one-third of the containers' contents, the dispute between the two countries on how to dispose of the waste began. Other trash items found in the containers included electronic waste, food scraps and even adult diapers.  

“We’ve recently made an offer to quickly repatriate the waste back to Canada for disposal and we await a formal response from the Philippines government,” the Press Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adam Austen, said. Around the same time the offer was made, the Philippines instructed its Bureau of Customs to return the containers to Canada by ship by May 15.

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte set a deadline and threatened to "declare war" on Canada if they did not comply by the specified date. "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 said in a video broadcast.

The Philippines has yet to respond to the North American country's offer.

Canadian Liberal MP, Catherine McKenna, called the dispute "an irritant in our relationship with the Philippines, but also a problem." 

The six-year dispute consisted of Canada attempting to pressure the Philippines in disposing of the trash themselves. The Filipino government cited the Basel Convention, an international treaty prohibiting developed nations from unloading their waste on developing countries, saying Canada was in violation. 

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