Metro Vancouver is ready to accept 1,500 tonnes of garbage from Philippines – Vancouver Sun

Metro Vancouver is ready to accept 1,500 tonnes of garbage from Philippines - Vancouver Sun
Canadian trash at heart of war with Philippines to be burned in Metro Vancouver power plant
Filipino environmental activists on May 7, 2015 wear a mock container vans filled with garbage to symbolize the 50 containers of waste that were shipped from Canada to the Philippines two years ago, as they hold a protest outside the Canadian embassy at the financial district of Makati, south of Manila, Philippines. Aaron Favila / Associated Press – file photo

Metro Vancouver says its ready to accept and dispose of the approximately 1,500 tonnes of rotting Canadian garbage being shipped back to this country from the Philippines.

The garbage, which has sat in a Manila port for nearly six years after being shipped there from the Port of Vancouver by a private business in 2013 and 2014, will be directed to Metro Vancouver’s waste-to-energy facility in Burnaby when it arrives here sometime this summer.

"It'd be nice to have it come back and be able to recycle it, but because of that contamination and because it's come from offshore, the CFIA doesn't want to take that risk," he said. "The risk, I believe, is very low."

Earlier this month, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to “declare war” on Canada over the 103 shipping containers that were falsely labeled as being full of recyclables but found by Filipino customs agents to contain mostly non-recyclable plastics, kitchen garbage and soiled adult diapers.

A spokesperson for the regional district said the garbage will be inspected for hazardous waste before being burned, once at the Port of Vancouver on arrival and again by Metro Vancouver staff and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency at the incinerator.

The containers have been impounded at the Manila International Container Terminal, where they have been declared a biohazard.

Metro Vancouver, in a Friday statement, said burning the trash was the most environmentally sustainable option. It added the garbage is mostly mixed plastic and paper with "low levels" of contaminants like electronics and household waste.

Duterte ordered the containers dumped in Canadian waters after Canada missed Duterte’s May 15 deadline to deal with the nearly six-year-old dispute.

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In a news release Friday, Metro Vancouver board chair Sav Dhaliwal says the 25-year-old Burnaby facility, which produces electricity by burning garbage, has “the technology and capacity to safely and efficiently handle this type of material.”

Sixty-nine containers of garbage, shipped to the Philippines but mislabelled and rejected by that country's facilities, will return to Canada to be burned in Metro Vancouver's waste-to-energy incinerator in Burnaby.

Jack Froese, chairman of Metro Vancouver’s zero waste committee, said waste-to-energy is the best option to deal with the garbage “because there is no potential for contact with wildlife, and no potential for waste to leave the facility following disposal.”

Any hazardous or "otherwise unacceptable" materials found will not be burned. It will be up to the federal government to arrange for disposal of those materials, the spokesperson said.

Environment and Climate Change Canada expects the garbage to be removed from the Philippines by the end of June, and it’s anticipated that the Metro Vancouver will dispose of the waste before the end of the summer.

Froese said it didn't make sense to ship the waste any further across Canada than necessary which is why Metro Vancouver accepted the federal government's request to burn the trash.

Metro Vancouver says 1,500 tonnes of waste is equivalent to about two days’ worth of processing capacity for the Burnaby facility, which handles about 260,000 tonnes of garbage a year.

Burning garbage produces electricity for Metro Vancouver. The regional district said the waste-to-energy facility produces enough power to supply the equivalent of 16,000 homes in the region.

The prodigal trash will be accepted as special handle waste under Metro Vancouver’s tipping fee bylaw, at the rate prescribed in the bylaw of $250 a tonne which works out to $375,000.

In recent weeks, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has lashed out against Canada with tough rhetoric. His country's ambassador to Canada has been recalled over the issue.

The containers were sent to the Philippines by a Whitby, Ont.-based company owned by Jim Makris. The company, Chronic Inc., appears to be dormant.

Dealing with 1,500 tonnes of contentious Canadian garbage is a dirty job — but somebody's got to do it — and as it turns out, that someone is going to be Metro Vancouver.

An official with the Philippines department of environment and natural resources, Juan Miguel Cuna, was charged with corruption for issuing six importation clearances to Chronic.

It will be burned over 10 to 14 days, after hours, at the incinerator. Because it has left Canadian shores, he explained, it needs to be burned separately from local trash.

Filipino environmental activists wear a mock container vans filled with garbage to symbolize dozens of containers of waste that were shipped from Canada to the Philippines on Thursday, May 7, 2015.

Metro Vancouver has agreed to dispose of approximately 1,500 tonnes of Canadian garbage at the heart of a diplomatic row with the Philippines.

Strict handling and disposal criteria must be followed whenever there is a risk of biological or agricultural contamination, said Jack Froese, chair of Metro Vancouvers 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 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.

READ MORE: Canada announces contract to ship trash back from Philippines hours after Duterte threatens to dump it

The facility has operated for over 25 years and produces enough electricity to power approximately 16,000 homes. The estimated 1,500 tonnes of waste is equivalent to about two days worth of processing capacity for the Waste-to-Energy Facility

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 Vancouvers 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.

The garbage is expected to be out of the Philippines by the end of June, and Metro Vancouver said it expects the waste will be safely disposed of at the Burnaby facility before the end of the summer.

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 material being sent back mostly consists of paper and mixed plastics with low levels of contaminants, such as electronics and household waste, according to officials.

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.

Strict handling and disposal criteria must be followed whenever there is a risk of biological or agricultural contamination, said Jack Froese, Chair of Metro Vancouvers Zero Waste Committee.

In the meantime, Metro Vancouver said it is working with Environment and Climate Change Canada on the logistics of receiving the waste.

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.

It was initially shipped from the Port of Vancouver to the Philippines by a private business for recycling in 2013 and 2014.

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.

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.

READ MORE: If Canadian trash is turning into a diplomatic headache, why cant we dispose of it ourselves?

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.