Vancouver: Tonnes of Canadian garbage left in the Philippines for years arrived back home, putting an end to a diplomatic row that highlighted how Asian nations have grown tired of being the world’s trash dump.
A cargo vessel loaded with about 69 containers of rubbish docked on Saturday in a port on the outskirts of Vancouver, according to a reporter at the scene.
The trash will be incinerated at a waste-to-energy facility, local officials said.
The conflict dates back to 2013 and 2014, when a Canadian company shipped containers mislabelled as recyclable plastics to the Philippines.
The shipment actually contained a mixture of paper, plastics, electronics and household waste, including kitchen trash and diapers, even though Philippine law bans imports of mixed plastics and household trash.
Some of the waste was disposed of in the Philippines, but much of it stewed in local ports.
The issue polluted bilateral relations for years, but tensions came to a head in April when Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to “declare war” against Canada unless it reclaimed the garbage.
Canada missed a May 15 deadline to repatriate the rubbish, but then made arrangements soon thereafter to move it back to Canadian soil.
Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna told reporters on Thursday: “We committed with the Philippines and are working closely with them.”
Global concern over plastic pollution has been spurred by shocking images of waste-clogged rivers in South-East Asia and accounts of dead sea creatures found with kilos of refuse in their stomachs.
For years, China received the bulk of scrap plastic from around the world, but closed its doors to foreign refuse last year in an effort to clean up its environment.
Huge quantities of waste plastic have since been redirected to South-East Asia, including Malaysia, Indonesia and – to a lesser degree – the Philippines.