Canada, Philippines At Odds Over “Illegal” Trash

The Philippines wants Canada to take back its trash.

A hundred and three huge shipping containers filled with plastic and electronic garbage have been sitting at a port near Manila, the country’s capital city. The Philippines is made up of a series of islands in the western Pacific Ocean.

The president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, gave a “warning” to Canada that it needs to take back the garbage. Duterte is a controversial and outspoken political leader, who has been accused in the past of human rights violations.

“Prepare a grand reception,” he said. “Your garbage is coming home.”

The shipping containers were shipped from Canada in 2012 and 2013. The containers are labelled “plastic.” The contents were sent to the Philippines to be recycled.

However, customs inspectors say the containers are actually full of about 2,500 tons of household garbage, plastics and electronics, according to a report by CBC News.

Only about a third of what is in the containers can be recycled, according to the Globe and Mail.

Environmentalists in the Philippines and in Canada say that Canada has an obligation to take the garbage back. They say the waste is “illegal.” They point to the Basel Convention, which is an agreement about how hazardous waste may be transported, especially from western countries to developing countries.

Some people say that the situation is an embarrassment and may put Canada-Philippines relations at risk.

According to the Globe and Mail, Canada is taking steps to reclaim the garbage, but there is an issue about who will pay for its transportation because the government can’t try to get the money from the company that sent it until all of the garbage is back in Canada again.

Related Links

The Basel Convention:

Human rights organization posted this article about the situation: Canada challenged to stop violating UN environmental Convention

The CBC’s Anna Maria Tremonti’s report for the radio show The Current about the situation:

Globe and Mail article, April 26, 2019:

Global News article, April 26, 2019:

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
To check your understanding of what is/isn’t recyclable, make a list of 15 items that are recyclable, 15 that are not and 15 which you are unsure about. Compare your list with a classmate’s.
Then, by asking friends, using the Internet or other resources, find out whether the items on your ‘unsure’ list are recyclable or not.

Reading Prompt: Making Inferences
This materials arrived in the Philippines in 2012 and 2013. Why do you think Canada and the Philippines are still debating this in 2019? Brainstorm the groups of people who might be providing their opinions on what to do with all of these shipping containers.

Use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretations (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Language Feature: Unfamiliar Words
This article may contain words that you have heard before, but you may not know their exact meaning. For example, words such as outspoken and obligation. Identify these words in the article and look up their meaning in a dictionary or online.