Philippines sends back tons of trash to South Korea

Govt says country will not become dumping ground for illegal garbage traffickers
Philippines sends back tons of trash to South Korea

Environmental activist send off about 1,400 tons of trash back to South Korea from the Mindanao International Container Terminal in Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental province in the southern Philippines on Jan. 13. (Photo by Divina M. Suson)

The Philippines has started sending back to South Korea tons of trash that was dumped in the Southeast Asian country in the middle of last year.

Environmental group EcoWaste Coalition said about 1,400 tons of illegal garbage exports were loaded onto a ship that departed on Jan. 14 from Mindanao.

The group said at least another 5,000 tons will be sent back by the end of January.

Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, said returning the garbage back to sender was "just, moral, and lawful."

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources earlier determined the waste shipments were wrongfully declared and harmful to the public's health.

South Korea's mixed plastic waste cargo in 51 containers was wrongly listed as plastic synthetic flakes.

Inspectors found assorted plastics such as gloves and toothbrushes, as well as wood, broken glass, and electronic equipment among the cargo.

"Our resolute stance to get the garbage returned shows how much we want our fragile ecosystems to be protected against the adverse effects of waste trafficking," said Lucero.

John Simon, port collector at Mindanao International Container Terminal, said fake documents were used to transport the garbage to the Philippines.

Besides the fake documents, the company that imported the garbage did not follow correct import procedures.

"Corrupt people conspired with corrupt foreigners" in these trash shipments, Simon said.

The EcoWaste Coalition said the return of the South Korea garbage should encourage Canada into resolving a festering garbage row that has been ongoing for the last five years.

Waste from Canada sent to the Philippines back in 2013 remains in the country.

Catholic Church leaders have joined calls in the Philippines for the Canadian government to take back several shipping containers of toxic waste.

The shipments — which were labeled as recyclable plastics — arrived from Canada in July and August of 2013, according to watchdogs. 

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At least 75 large containers filled to the brim with Canadian garbage are still sitting in Manila's port.

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