Green groups in Southeast Asia urge ban on trash shipments | Inquirer News
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Green groups in Southeast Asia urge ban on trash shipments

/ 05:35 AM May 28, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Green groups from Southeast Asian nations, including the Philippines, have called on their respective governments to strictly enforce policies and bans on shipped wastes after the discovery of garbage from developed countries flooding communities in the region.

“When the wealthy nations clean up, it should not have to be at the expense of the developing world,” Beau Baconguis, Asia-Pacific coordinator of Break Free from Plastic, said in a statement.

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Waste from rich countries

“Governments in Asia, which has become the world’s new dumpsite, must strictly guard their territories against waste smuggling from richer countries,” she said.

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The groups’ call came amid the Philippine government’s renewed demand for Canada to retake their garbage that was illegally brought to the country six years ago.

It also follows the discovery of several containers of wastes from Australia and Hong Kong at a port in Mindanao.

The shipments from Australia were declared municipal waste or processed engineered fuel intended for the cement company Holcim.

But EcoWaste Coalition said its entry appeared to be a “devious disposal scheme.”

“We question this latest scheme of foreign waste disposal,” said Aileen Lucero, the group’s national coordinator, noting that describing the trash as “municipal waste” allows the country to rid itself of its garbage and even profiting from it.

Other groups from Indonesia and Malaysia had also called out the waste shipment in
their countries, many languishing in their ports or flooding
communities.

After China closed its doors to plastic waste importation last year, countries in Southeast Asia have been at the receiving end of shipped wastes.

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Contaminated water

A study by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives revealed that the plastic wastes brought into the region have led to contaminated water, crop diseases and respiratory illnesses in communities that shouldered the burden.

“Why do we need to repeatedly remind the world that we are not a garbage dump?” said Abigail Aguilar of Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines.

“This might not be the last of these waste importation scandals,” she said.

Local groups had called for the ratification of the amendment to the Basel Convention, a global treaty that controls the movement of hazardous wastes.

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