Vancouver, a city known for its borderline self-righteous waste disposal policies, is being called out by the Philippines for essentially using the island nation as an enormous trash bin.
In 2013, the Ontario-based company Chronic Inc. sent 50 shipping containers, or 2,500 tons, of "plastic for recycling" to the Philippines, but closer inspection by that country's Bureau of Customs revealed the bins were filled with regular old trash, including rotting food and adult diapers.
The Philippines has not taken kindly to this nasty surprise, with politicians and environmentalists arguing that Canada violated international hazardous waste laws by shipping its crap overseas. To date, the pile of trash is still festering in a Manila port.
"Canada should take back its waste," Philippine Senator Loren Legarda told fellow senators at a hearing last week, while Leah Paquiz, a member of the country's House of Representatives is demanding Canada "show us the decency that we so rightfully deserve as a nation. My motherland is not a garbage bin of Canada." At a protest staged outside of the Canadian Embassy in May, one person even reportedly dressed as a garbage-filled shipping container. Now, there's a Change.org petition calling for a congressional inquiry into "imported Canadian garbage."
Chronic Inc. owner Jim Makris has said he purchased the recyclables from a Vancouver firm. But earlier this week, Malcolm Brodie, chair of Metro Vancouver's Zero Waste Committee, denied the city's involvement in the literal mess.
"It sounds like it's come from… Whitby, Ontario, where there's a company called Ontario Chronic Inc. It may have gone through the Port of Vancouver but it's not Metro Vancouver waste, for sure," he told local talk radio station CKNW.
Shipping waste to developing countries is such an issue, the United Nations banned the practice through the Basel Convention, which Canada is a part of.In an interview last year with the Toronto Star, Makris said sending garbage abroad doesn't make sense because it's more expensive than getting rid of it domestically.
At the time, Makris characterized the controversy as "the stupidest thing I've heard of in my entire life."
A spokesman for Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development told VICE there was nothing hazardous in the material shipped and that no laws exist to force Makris to recall the shipping containers.
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