MANILA – The Philippines sent back on Monday a container with more than 25,600 kilograms (56,400 pounds) of electronic waste material to Hong Kong, shortly after returning 69 containers of garbage to Canada that were illegally imported six years ago.
The e-waste started its return journey on Monday after Hong Kong agreed on Friday to arrange for the return of its junk, the Philippines Bureau of Customs said.
The container had arrived at a port in the province of Misamis Oriental, situated on the southern Mindanao island, on Jan. 3
Its contents had been classified as “electronic accessories,” but when customs authorities inspected it last week, they found crushed computers and other electronic gadgets.
“We commend our customs inspectors for spotting this illegal waste shipment, and the quick action on the return of the waste to Hong Kong,” Lea Guerrero, the director of the Philippines’ branch of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said in a statement.
Misamis Oriental lawmaker Juliette Uy announced that she had introduced a bill in the House of Representatives calling for a complete ban on the international trade of garbage, which she described as “toxic colonialism” because it is shipped from rich to poor countries.
She said the Philippines produced a significant amount of waste themselves and the future would be shorter and more polluted the more waste there was, so the Philippines did not need to import more waste.
In the past few weeks, nine containers from Australia and one from Hong Kong have been found at the same port in Misamis Oriental. They are believed to be the first batch of a 70-container shipment of electronic waste material.
For the past year, the port has also hosted 6,500 tons of waste from South Korea, whose government has vowed to take it all back.
After years of diplomatic protests by Manila, Canada agreed on Friday to take over the costs for the repatriation of its waste, some 2,450 tons of garbage in 69 containers out of the total 103 that had been shipped illegally to the Philippines between 2013-14 by the company Chronic Plastics.
In order to mount pressure on Ottawa, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to declare war, recalled his ambassador to Canada for consultations, withdrew part of the diplomatic staff in the North American country and banned senior officials from traveling to Canada.
Malaysia announced last week that it would return 3,000 tons of waste to countries such as the United States, China, Australia or Japan, after returning five containers full of garbage to Spain.
After receiving more than seven million tons of foreign waste just in 2017, according to the United Nations, China banned the import of waste in 2018. This has caused the large-scale shipping of waste being diverted to Southeast Asian nations such as the Philippines, Malaysia or Indonesia.