Recently, Philippine President Duterte once again "got angry" because Canada exported garbage to the Philippines.
Duterte, who has always been known for his daring to speaking, made a tough call to Canada during several public meetings during the week, claiming that "the Philippines is not a junkyard". "If Canada does not return garbage, it will be thrown to the beaches of Canada." And the Canadian Embassy in the Philippines, the Philippines will even "declare war on Canada." Duterte also "suggested" Canada, "Your garbage will arrive soon, prepare a grand reception. Eat if you want to eat. Celebrate, because your garbage is going home."
In the Philippine stern warning, the Canadian ambassador to the Philippines, in an interview with the Philippine media, continued to use the word "tow", saying that "the Canadian government promised to solve the garbage problem together with the Philippine government and abide by the Philippine court's ruling. The rubbish was shipped back to Canada; on the other hand, it was argued that the rubbish was "part of the international trade in waste between two private companies in Canada and the Philippines."
The “long garbage war” in the two countries lasted for six years.
The dispute between the Philippines and Canada surrounding this batch of garbage can be traced back to the period of former President Aquino III. Between 2013 and 2014, a total of 103 containers of garbage were shipped from Canada to the Philippine capital of Manila. These include household household waste, plastic bottles, plastic bags, newspapers and used adult diapers. As of now, about 26 container wastes have been buried in the dumping site at Tara (the capital of the province of Tara, Philippines), and the rest are still at the container terminal in Manila.
After Duterte came to power in 2016, a court in Manila had ruled that the importers of these wastes would return the garbage to Canada. In November 2017, the Philippines hosted the ASEAN Presidency to host the East Asian Series Leaders Meeting. President Duterte pressured Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau, who was invited to attend the meeting, to ask Canada to solve the garbage problem. Trudeau, who has painted himself as an environmentalist, has promised that "Canada is working hard to solve this problem," but Canada has not taken any measures since then. To this day, the garbage is still rotten in the port of Manila in the Philippines.
When reporting on the matter, the Philippine TV station ANC pointed out that the garbage problem has not been resolved, mainly because the Canadian side is not willing to take back. Experts interviewed by the TV station said that the Canadian government and enterprises are not willing to take responsibility for the garbage shipped to Manila. What the Philippines can do is continue to discuss with Canada.
The disputes over the rubbish in the Philippines and Canada reflect the unacceptable and filthy reality behind it: for many years, developed countries have been exporting waste to developing countries and are known as “global waste trade”.
Since the 1950s and 1960s, Western developed countries have begun to export large quantities of untreated solid waste to developing countries in the form of "international trade." Through this cross-border transfer, Western countries have transferred solid waste that is extremely costly and cannot be disposed of to developing countries, and has brought environmental disasters to other countries while enjoying green mountains and green mountains. The reason why developing countries are willing to accept the solid wastes exported by developed countries, in addition to economic interests (the waste plastics, waste paper, scrap metal, etc. in foreign garbage have recycling value), the environmental protection system in developing countries is not perfect, recycling The low cost of solid waste waste is also an important reason.
This kind of "global waste trade" is essentially the "export pollution" of developed countries to developing countries, highlighting the double standards and hypocrisy of developed countries on environmental protection issues. In 1992, Greenpeace's Jim Puckett coined the term "toxic colonialism" to refer to the dumping of industrial waste from developed Western countries into the land of developing countries. In a sense, the problem of environmental pollution caused by garbage has not disappeared fundamentally from developed western countries, but has been “exported” to more vulnerable developing economies.
In order to reduce the flow of hazardous waste between countries and prevent the transfer of hazardous waste to developing countries, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal was adopted at the World Conference on Environmental Protection in 1989. The Convention entered into force in 1992 and a resolution was reached at the Second Meeting of States Parties to immediately ban the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes from the OECD countries, mainly composed of developed countries, to non-OECD countries for disposal purposes, from the OECD. The country’s export of non-OECD countries for the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes for recycling purposes should also be suspended on December 31, 1997.
Since then, the Basel Convention has not been well implemented. Many Western developed countries still refuse to bear the primary responsibility for transferring waste to developing countries. The OECD released a report in the mid-1990s that only 4% of solid waste in OECD countries was shipped to developing countries, and the rest were digested in the country. This obviously does not match the facts.
A large number of statistics and studies on international waste trade show that most of the solid waste in developed countries is exported to developing countries. According to a report by the non-governmental environmental organization Basel Action Network, in the 1990s, the world produced an average of 400 million tons of solid waste per year, more than 90% from OECD countries. As solid waste disposal facilities become scarcer and costly in industrialized countries, developing countries have become the main dumping ground for solid waste in developed countries. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), in 2014, Wrap, a charity that called for waste reduction, declared that the UK produces 3.7 million tons of plastic waste per year based on the number of European plastics. The UK only recycles 38% of the packaging plastic waste, and the rest are exported to Asian countries including China.
Another Greenpeace study shows that when Americans put used batteries in a recycling bin, they often end up in Mexico. Due to the stricter environmental standards for lead pollution, it is illegal to use the crude method to extract heavy metals such as lead from batteries. In order to avoid costly supervision in the country, the US battery industry exports used batteries to Mexico, so Mexico has become a “sewage paradise” for the United States.
Garbage “downstream”: unbearable weight in developing countries
The environmental harm of foreign garbage from western developed countries to developing countries has long been a new topic. Solid waste waste exported by Western countries to developing countries has had enormous disastrous consequences. In August 2006, a Dutch company’s charter round transported hundreds of tons of toxic waste to Côte d’Ivoire, killing seven local residents, inpatients in 24 and injuring nearly 40,000 people. Such examples are often reported.
It is estimated that there are currently 4 to 5 billion tons of waste (including municipal waste, industrial waste and hazardous waste) in the world, and the global market value of waste trade is as high as $5,000 to $600 billion a year. The number is still increasing with the increase in export volume and price each year. It is conceivable that developing countries that are downstream of this huge waste industry chain are carrying more and more environmental pressures.
For a long time, the basic pattern of the global economy and the division of labor in the industrial chain have formed a situation in which developed countries rely on developing countries for their waste disposal. The reasons for this situation, in addition to the primary responsibility of the developed countries, the problems of the developing countries' own environmental protection system and the huge economic interests of the waste industry are also difficult to blame.
The environmental protection legislation and administrative environment in developing countries are far less than those in developed countries. Under this circumstance, developed countries rely on their institutional advantages to pass the pollution crisis to developing countries with underdeveloped systems.
According to the latest research, multinational companies based in developed countries with strict environmental policies tend to conduct polluting production activities in countries with relatively weak environmental policies. This makes these multinational companies look “green” in their home countries, but in fact they have transferred pollution to developing countries.
For a long time, due to the strictness of environmental regulations in developing countries, the disposal cost per ton of hazardous waste is only 1/40 to 1/4 of that of developed countries, and the recovery of imported solid waste can reuse iron and copper. Aluminum and rare metals such as gold, silver and palladium have driven the economic development of imported garbage distribution centers. The huge economic benefits have driven developing countries to become garbage disposal places in developed countries.
More and more developing countries say no to "foreign garbage"
For a long time, developing countries have disposed of garbage for developed countries at the expense of the environment. This state cannot continue forever. Developing countries must seek to upgrade in the global economic value chain. It is impossible and should not be locked in the low end for a long time.
In recent years, more and more developing countries have gradually realized that the economic, “flying small profits” earned by the treatment of imported “foreign garbage”, the pollution of the atmosphere, soil and water caused by the import of solid waste, and The serious damage to the ecological environment of the importing country is enormous to an inestimable extent.
With the destruction of the global environment caused by pollution problems, it seriously hinders the economic and social development of developing countries. The growth and processing capacity of developing countries’ own garbage also creates contradictions. It says “no” to the import of “foreign garbage” in developed countries. It has become a natural choice.
After China announced the ban on the import of “foreign garbage” at the end of 2017, Southeast Asian countries have also issued import bans because they are overwhelmed by “foreign garbage”. Recently, India has become another developing country that says “no” to “foreign garbage.” This has once again caused the Western developed countries to be caught off guard and fall into the so-called “garbage door”.
Global challenge，Coping together
With the global economic development and population growth, the increasing waste of waste has become a global challenge. According to a report released by the World Bank in 2018, if there is no urgent action, it is expected that the annual global waste generated in the next 30 years will increase from 2.01 billion tons in 2016 to 3.4 billion tons. If the global waste is not properly managed, it will not only endanger human health and the local environment, but also make the climate challenge aggravate the danger that the whole planet will face the rubbish siege.
For the problem of garbage disposal in the global economic and social development, countries should be the primary and basic responsibility for self-sweeping. Governments should take the initiative to embrace and promote the concept of circular economy, create a good institutional environment, and manage waste in an intelligent and sustainable manner, which will help promote efficient economic growth while minimizing environmental impact.
In response to the global waste and garbage trade issue, it is also necessary for countries and regions to establish coordinated governance mechanisms to achieve global waste reduction and jointly promote the solution of waste problems. Strengthen the implementation of the Basel Convention and adopt more stringent measures to curb and punish illegal transnational waste trafficking. Developed countries, as the main producers of waste, should not only lose to the developing countries, but also take up more human development responsibilities, and actively provide funds and technologies to help developing countries popularize waste sorting and improve treatment technologies. Developing countries should plan ahead and face the ever-increasing amount of garbage. They must strictly enforce environmental protection legislation, establish a circular economy concept, and rely on continuous advancement of science and technology to improve the ability to scientifically and rationally dispose of garbage.