EcoWaste Coalition Bats for Stronger Action to Combat Illegal Garbage Trade

Photo by Gigie Cruz/GAIA
The EcoWaste Coalition, a not-for-profit environmental and health watchdog group, today expressed the need to review current regulations, procedures and controls to tackle the unethical and unlawful waste dumping from overseas.

The group aired its plea for stronger action to combat illegal garbage trade following the waste analysis and characterization study (WACS) conducted by the government yesterday on a few of the 48 unclaimed container vans of imported plastic scraps from Canada that are sitting in Subic Port.

The 48 container vans consigned to Live Green Enterprise arrived with no prior importation clearance from the Environmental Management Bureau in four batches between December 2013 to January 2014.

“As we eagerly await the detailed WACS results, we appeal to the government to initiate a participatory process that will look at the gaps, loopholes and weaknesses of the system that is allowing garbage smuggling to ensue,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  

Encouraged by the recently-released encyclical letter of Pope Francis on “Care for Our Common Home,” the EcoWaste Coalition asked the authorities to consider its proposal for a review and, if necessary, an overhaul, of the current system to put a stop to garbage dumping that is clearly an affront to our national dignity, and a violation of national and international laws.

Pope Francis explained that “because the enforcement of laws is at times inadequate due to corruption, public pressure has to be exerted in order to bring about decisive political action.” 

“Society, through non-governmental organizations and intermediate groups, must put pressure on governments to develop more rigorous regulations, procedures and controls… to control damage to the environment,” the green pope added.

Concretely, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the government, particularly the Bureau of Customs and the Environmental Management Bureau to consider the following recommendations:

1.  Conduct a public consultation to review current laws and regulations pertaining to the trade of  “waste commodities” with the goal of tightening the rules to thwart the entry, dumping and disposal of prohibited waste materials.

2.  Publicly make available through the BOC and EMB websites all importations categorized as “waste,” particularly “plastic waste” and “electronic waste.”

3.  Prohibit the unloading from vessels of waste shipments with no prior importation clearance and to direct for their immediate return to the port of origin.

4.  Disapprove the disposal of illegal waste imports in local landfills and other disposal facilities.