PH at risk of becoming world’s dumpsite
The Philippines will become the world’s dumping site if the government won’t work on the ratification of the Basel Ban amendment, an environmental group warned.
Adopted by the parties to the Basel Convention in 1995, The Basel Ban Amendment, prohibits the export of hazardous wastes from member states of the European Union, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and Liechtenstein to poorer countries, regardless of whether they are for recycling or not.
With Croatia’s recent submission of their instrument of ratification to the United Nations, BAN toxics, an environmental group advocating for environmental justice, called the attention of the government to take action.
“This is a very historic moment, given what poorer countries had to endure in dealing with the trash dumped by richer countries such as Canada, US, Japan, South Korea and many other developed countries. The enforcement of the Basel Ban Amendment is environmental justice at work. But in the absence of our own government’s ratification, we are at risk of receiving more toxic wastes because the Basel Ban primarily protects countries ratified it,” said Reynaldo San Juan, executive director of environmental justice group BAN Toxics.
The Philippines is a signatory to the Basel Convention, but it has yet to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment.
“This means we are in the crosshairs of waste traders from developed countries, and their choices have since become narrower because of the Basel Ban’s enforcement in other developing countries,” San Juan added.
With Croatia’s ratification, a total of 97 countries have now ratified the ban and most crucially the necessary 3/4 of the parties that were present and voting in 1995. The agreement will become a new Article in the Convention and will enter into force for the 97 countries after 90 days — December 5th, 2019.
In the last few years, dumping of wastes from richer countries has triggered public condemnation. The most high profile case of foreign waste dumping in the Philippines was the Canadian waste shipment, which was discovered at the Manila International Container Port in January 2014. Since then, environmental groups have lobbied for the repatriation of the wastes.
It was only last May 2019, or five years since its discovery in Philippine ports, that the Canadian wastes were finally sent back to Vancouver. Apart from this, authorities also uncovered wastes being sent here by South Korea, Hong Kong, and Australia.
The country also saw a huge jump in volume of waste imports after China’s National Sword Policy, which banned the entry of certain plastic wastes into its borders, has caused a seismic shift in global waste trade. Greenpeace data shows that the Philippines saw a 178.88% jump in imports from 4,267 tons in 2017 to 11,900 tons in 2018.
“Our closest neighbors China, Indonesia, and Malaysia have protected themselves by ratifying the Basel Ban. Now more than ever, we need to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment. We cannot leave our gates open and at the mercy of richer countries. The Duterte administration must show its political will in protecting our national interest, and stop the flow of hazardous waste in our shores,” said San Juan.