Waste-to-energy plant in B.C. to handle disputed garbage from Philippines

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Environmentalists display placards as they picket the Philippine Senate to demand the Canadian government to speed up its removal of several containers of garbage that were shipped to the country six years ago Friday, May 24, 2019 in suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

VANCOUVER – Around 1,500 tons of trash being shipped back to Canada from the Philippines will be taken to a facility in Burnaby, B.C., which converts waste into electricity.

The Vancouver Metro regional district says it has been selected as the preferred site for waste disposal by Environment and Climate Change of Canada, in part because of its proximity to the Port of Vancouver, where trash is scheduled to arrive.

The regional district’s website says that its Burnaby mass burn facilities have been in operation since 1998 and handle around 260,000 tons of garbage per year.

Earlier this week, the Philippines rejected Canada’s deadline in late June to repatriate its garbage and was moving forward with plans to send it back to Canada.

The president’s spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said at a press conference in Manila on Thursday that Canada’s timetable is not good enough and that the Philippine government will send 69 containers of mislabeled Canadian garbage through the Pacific no later than next week.

Ottawa hired the Canadian office of the French shipping giant Bollore Logistics to treat the waste and then return it to Canada before the end of June.

Environmental authorities say that containers must be fumigated in the Philippines before being loaded onto a ship. The contract with Bollore has a value of $ 1.14 million.

In a press release on Friday, Vancouver Metro Board Chairman Sav Dhaliwal said the facilities at Burnaby have been handling the waste of international airlines and shipping industries, as well as other materials designated for safe disposal by the Food Inspection Agency of Canada.

“We have the technology and the ability to safely and efficiently handle this type of material,” said Dhaliwal.

Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the containers to be emptied into Canadian waters after Canada failed to meet Duterte’s May 15 deadline to deal with the nearly six-year dispute.

They are the rest of the 103 shipping containers sent to the Philippines by a Canadian company that no longer exists in 2013 and 2014, falsely labeled as plastics for recycling. The Philippine authorities were alarmed that the amount of material was greater than the Philippine importer could process, and ordered an inspection, finding that the containers were filled mainly with regular trash instead of any material that could be recycled.

Canada and the Philippines have struggled since 2014 on what to do with the content. The Philippines recently withdrew its ambassador and consul general until Canada dealt with the waste.

As a result of this case, Canada amended its regulations to prevent this type of situation from recurring by requiring exporters to obtain permits to ship waste if Canada or the importing nation considers it hazardous.

Jack Froese, chairman of the zero waste committee of Metro Vancouver, said that the conversion of waste into energy is the best option to deal with garbage “because there is no possibility of contact with wildlife, and there is no possibility of waste leave the facilities after their elimination. ”

The garbage that comes from the Philippines is equivalent to approximately two days of processing capacity at the Burnaby plant, said Metro Vancouver.

The federal government is paying the municipality $ 250 per ton to dispose of the garbage under its statute that covers the special handling of the waste, which is equivalent to approximately $ 375,000.

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