After six years spent in the Philippines, 69 shipping containers of Canada’s garbage, the centre of a diplomatic dispute between the two countries, returned to British Columbia’s west coast on Saturday morning.
The Anna Maersk could be watched anti-climatically churning into Tsawwassen terminal to dock just after 7 a.m. carrying a mixture of garbage and e-waste. It will remain there until incineration in Burnaby.
It all started when the now-extinct export company Chronic Inc. initially sent a 1,500-tonne shipment of trash to the southeast Asian country of the Philipinnes for recycling in 2013.
There were concerns that the plastics sent west were contaminated with ordinary garbage, triggering protests by environmentalists and a diplomatic spat that led to the Asian county’s president to call on Ottawa to take the trash back by May 15 of this year.
The deadline was missed and so President Rodrigo Duterte recalled his ambassador and consuls general in response.
Prime Minster Justin Trudeau and his government were quickly able to secure passage of the garbage, and it left on June 1 and transferred to the ship it arrived on in Taiwan for a trip back across the Pacific Ocean.
The federal government spent $1.14 million to bring the garbage back. It will be Metro Vancouver’s Solid Waste Operations that is in charge of processing the trash.
The plant manager told media that the facility processes about 260,00 tonnes a year and so the some 1,500 returned garbage is only a small chunk and will be completed in under two days.
The trash will be incinerated and turned into enough energy to power 100 homes for a year, Chris Allan added.