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EcoWaste Coalition Urges Marcos Government to Fast Track Ratification of Basel Convention Ban Amendment

Ratify the Basel Convention Ban Amendment

8 January 2022, Quezon City. The environmental health and justice group EcoWaste Coalition urged the Marcos government anew to expedite the ratification of an international law prohibiting hazardous waste export from developed to developing countries, and to put a national waste import ban into effect.

As part of its commemoration of the Zero Waste Month this January, the group’s trustees and staff sent a letter last Friday to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Maria Antonia Loyzaga to appeal for the expeditious ratification of the Basel Convention Ban Amendment.

The Basel Convention Ban Amendment, which entered into force on December 5, 2019, prohibits affluent countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the European Union (EU) and Liechtenstein from exporting hazardous wastes to developing countries like the Philippines for any reason, including for reuse, recycling or recovery operations.

According to the group, the country’s ratification in 1993 of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal and current laws and regulations are not adequate to protect the national interest from the damaging effects of the global waste trade to public health and the environment, citing high profile cases of illegal waste imports, especially those from Canada and South Korea.

Ratify the Basel Convention Ban Amendment

“To protect our country from the illegal traffic of hazardous waste and other wastes, we request you, Mr. President, to ratify the Basel Convention Ban Amendment and to call and encourage the Senate to concur with the ratification of the same,” wrote the group.

Based on the cost-benefit study commissioned by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB), “the overall beneficial impact of the Ban Amendment in the Philippines outweighs the short-term costs.”

The group further urged the government to completely and permanently ban all waste imports to send a clear and unequivocal message to waste traders and traffickers that exporting hazardous waste and other wastes to our country is now disallowed.

“The ratification of the Basel Convention Ban Amendment, the implementation of the Basel Convention Plastic Waste Amendments, and the national prohibition on waste importation, we believe, will offer our country with the formidable legal protection against the illegal traffic of hazardous and other wastes,” the group pointed out.

Ratify the Basel Convention Ban Amendment

Beyond these measures, the authorities should also tighten the monitoring of imports to ensure that no waste shipments enter our ports under false declarations, the group added.

In their letter, the group recalled the highly controversial waste shipments from Canada, which arrived in Manila in 2013-2014 and which were partially re-exported to Vancouver City in 2019, rousing citizens’ awareness and abhorrence against foreign waste dumping into the country.

As Senator of the 16th Congress, Marcos even filed a resolution “to investigate, in aid of legislation, the dumping of Canadian trash into the country, and institute measures to protect public health and environment against toxic and hazardous materials, and ensure environmentally sound waste management.”

In the years that followed, the Philippines again fell victim to illicit waste shipments that were intercepted by customs authorities, including the massive 7,408 metric tons of contaminated plastic waste imports in 2018 from South Korea that were unloaded in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental and re-exported in batches to Pyeongtaek City in 2019-2020.

It is possible that there were other cases of foreign waste shipments not intercepted and returned to their sources, the group said.

EcoWaste Coalition
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