Canada opposes ban on ‘indefensible’ practice of shipping hazardous waste to developing countries

By Ainslie Cruickshank Star Vancouver

Fri., May 10, 2019

VANCOUVER, B.C., CANADA — A Seattle-based environmental organization is shaming Canada for refusing to support a ban on the dumping of hazardous waste in developing countries.

The proposed amendment would strengthen an international treaty called the Basel Convention, which governs the global movement of hazardous waste. Canada, a signatory since 1989, has come under fire in recent years for allegedly violating the treaty.

People collect plastic materials at a garbage dump in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, on March 23. The Basel Convention requires its signatories to seek permission from other countries before exporting hazardous and household waste.  (CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN / AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

People collect plastic materials at a garbage dump in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, on March 23. The Basel Convention requires its signatories to seek permission from other countries before exporting hazardous and household waste.  (CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN / AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

In 2013 and 2014, a private Canadian company shipped 103 containers to the Philippines, labelling them as plastics for recycling even though they also contained waste like diapers. For years, the Philippine government has been asking Canada to take back its trash, rotting at a port near Manilla.

“The people and environment of the Philippines were failed by two governments and an intergovernmental body designed to prevent and mitigate just such acts,” said Jim Puckett, the executive director of the Basel Action Network, a Seattle-based environmental organization focused on waste.

“This is what we can only call dysfunctional. And three words come to mind: Shame on us.”

Puckett made the comments in Geneva this week during a meeting between the parties to the Basel Convention.