Metro Vancouver has agreed to dispose of approximately 1,500 tonnes of Canadian garbage at the heart of a diplomatic row with the Philippines.
The waste was shipped from the Port of Vancouver to the Philippines by a private company in 2013 and 2014, where it was initially intended to be recycled, said Metro Vancouver.
In the years since, the trash has sat in 69 containers in the island country where it has become a growing sore point with Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, who threatened to “declare war” and dump it in Canadian waters if Canada didn’t ship it back.
On Friday, Metro Vancouver said it would “securely dispose of” the materials at Burnaby’s waste-to-energy facility, which will burn it in order to produce electricity.
“For decades, Metro Vancouver’s Waste-to-Energy Facility has responsibly processed waste material from the international airline and shipping industries, as well as other materials designated for secure disposal by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,” said Metro Vancouver Board Chair Sav Dhaliwal in a media release.
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“We have the technology and capacity to safely and efficiently handle this type of material.”
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Metro Vancouver describes the facility as the “most environmentally sustainable option to recover energy and resources from waste that cannot be reused or recycled.”
The waste consists mostly of paper, mixed plastics and some electronics and household waste, according to Metro Vancouver.
Metro Vancouver says the Burnaby facility was chosen by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) because of its proximity to the Port of Vancouver and because it is certified to accept waste under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s International Waste Directive.
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“Strict handling and disposal criteria must be followed whenever there is a risk of biological or agricultural contamination,” said Jack Froese, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Committee.
“Waste-to-Energy is the best option for secure disposal because there is no potential for contact with wildlife, and no potential for waste to leave the facility following disposal.”
The region and ECCC are now working out the logistics of receiving the waste, but Metro Vancouver says it is expected to be shipped out of the Philippines by the end of June and be disposed of by the end of summer.
Canada has previously agreed to pay the full cost of shipping the trash home.
On Wednesday, Canada announced a contract with Bollore Logistics Canada to return the containers to Canada — a week after an ultimatum by the Duterte expired, prompting his country to recall its ambassador and consuls general in protest.
Wednesday’s announcement came just hours after Duterte ordered his government to find a shipper to transport the waste back to Canadian waters.
The Philippines have made diplomatic protests about the trash several times since a 2016 court ruling that the materials be returned to Canada.
— With files from the Canadian Press