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.
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. We have the technology and capacity to safely and efficiently handle this type of material.
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.
"For decades, Metro Vancouver's 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.
"We have the technology and capacity to safely and efficiently handle this type of material."
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.
Burning the 1,500 tonnes of trash, it continued, would be the equivalent of two days of work for the incinerator.
Canadas Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the government is taking all necessary measures for the prompt, safe, and environmentally sound disposal of the waste that was left in the Philippines by a Canadian company.
Metro Vancouver will charge the federal government, which is co-ordinating the return of the trash, its standard special waste handling fee of $250 per tonne.
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.
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.
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The material will be accepted as Special Handle Waste under Metro Vancouvers Tipping Fee Bylaw, at the rate prescribed in the bylaw of $250 per tonne.
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.
It was initially shipped from the Port of Vancouver to the Philippines by a private business for recycling in 2013 and 2014.
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.
They are the remainder of 103 shipping containers sent to the Philippines by a now-defunct Canadian company in 2013 and 2014, falsely labelled as plastics for recycling. Philippine authorities were alarmed that the amount of material was more than the Philippine importer could process, and ordered an inspection, finding the containers to be filled mostly with regular garbage rather than any material that could be recycled.
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
In a news release on Friday, Metro Vancouver Board Chair Sav Dhaliwal said the facility in Burnaby has been handling waste from the international airline and shipping industries, as well as other materials designate for secure disposal by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
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.
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 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.
Canada and the Philippines have battled since 2014 about what to do with the contents. The Philippines has recently recalled its ambassador and consuls general until Canada deals with the waste.
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 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.