Getting back garbage ‘theoretically possible’ – Trudeau

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Editor’s note: The quote in the fourth paragraph, attributed to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has been corrected to say that “it is now theoretically possible” to bring the garbage back to Canada. The headline and the story below were revised to accurately reflect the correct quote. We apologize for the error.

SHIPPING tons of garbage rotting in Manila back to Canada has become “possible” because the legal impediments hindering its return to Canada have already been addressed, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.

Trudeau said he had assured President Rodrigo Duterte that the Canadian government would continue to work on legal ways to take back the tons of trash that a private firm shipped to the Philippines in 2013.

“I expressed to President Duterte that back in Canada, we would continue to work on this. And hopefully resolve this situation,” he said in a news briefing.

“We had legal barriers and restrictions that prevented us from being able to take it back. Those regulations and those impediments have now been addressed. So it is now theoretically possible to get it back. There are a number of questions: who will pay for it (shipment), where the financial responsibility is. This is a commercial transaction. It did not involve governments,” he added.

The Chronic Inc., a private company in Ontario, shipped to Manila 103 container vans of garbage mislabeled as “recyclable plastic materials” five years ago.

The Philippines and Canada have ratified the Basel Convention, which deems illegal the transboundary movement of waste and obliges the country of origin to take back its waste in an environmentally sound manner, without transferring the cost of managing such waste to the country of import or transit.

It was reported that as of 2014, the storage of the container vans of trash from Canada had cost the Philippine government P66 million.

Environmental watchdog EcoWaste Coalition on Tuesday expressed its dismay over Trudeau’s “gross indifference to the long-drawn-out Canadian garbage dumping controversy.”

“While he (Trudeau) executed his publicity stunts with gusto, Trudeau was ‘radio silent’ over persistent demands aired by our country’s environmental, health, labor and political leaders for his government to take back the illegal trash shipments for safe disposal in Canada,” Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition, said in a statement.

“The more we think about his food-to-go order at a restaurant a stone’s throw away from where the rotting residual wastes are stored, the more it leaves a bad taste in [the]mouth. He should have gone to the port to see for himself the reeking trash. Prime Minister Trudeau’s apathetic inaction only reinforced our belief that the ‘Canadian solution’ he spoke about in 2015 on the sidelines of the APEC Summit was nothing but an empty promise,” Lucero added. WITH NEIL A. ALCOBER

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