By Chito Chavez
Quezon City-based environmental group EcoWaste Coalition has called on the government to immediately exert greater measures that will ban waste importation to the Philippines.
The group stressed that such moves would “send a clear and unequivocal warning that the Philippines will no longer accept other countries’ trash”.
A strong advocate for a zero waste and toxics-free society, EcoWaste Coalition specifically urged the government to expeditiously ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, an international law banning the export of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries, and to issue a national waste importation ban.
“While our country has ratified the Basel Convention in 1993, we still have not ratified the Basel Ban Amendment that was adopted in 1995 and entered into legal force in December 2019. By ratifying the said amendment, which is designed to fix the recycling loophole in the treaty, we protect our territory from becoming a dumping ground for hazardous wastes and other wastes camouflaged as ‘recyclables’ that could no longer enter China and other countries,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Our current laws are not strong enough to shield us from waste traders in search for cheap recycling and disposal options in developing countries like ours. We need a stronger defense against the entry of hazardous wastes and other wastes, including plastic waste, which could be better managed in exporting countries,” she added.
Lucero pointed out the string of waste controversies “that rightly angered our people justifies a clear and unequivocal policy warning waste traders and traffickers that it’s no longer ‘garbage business as usual’ in the Philippines.
She recalled the entry of so-called “plastic scraps” from Canada, “plastic synthetic flakes” from South Korea, “assorted electronic accessories” from Hong Kong, and “municipal wastes/processed engineered fuel (PEF)” from Australia, as clear indicators of the need to overhaul the national policy on the importation of foreign waste.
“Banning waste imports will be for the greater interest of the nation,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.
“Beyond banning waste imports, we support stricter monitoring of imports to ensure that no waste is brought in under false declarations,” the group added.
The group noted that neighbouring countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam have taken various actions to stop the flow of hazardous wastes and other wastes into their ports.
“To effectively deter illegal waste trade, we urge the ASEAN to initiate a regional response fully banning waste imports in the entire economic bloc,” the group suggested.