A waste-to-energy facility in Burnaby will play a role in defusing tensions between Canada and the Philippines.
Metro Vancouver has announced that its plant on Riverbend Drive has been selected by Environment and Climate Change Canada to dispose of approximately 1,500 tonnes of Canadian garbage that was shipped to the East Asian nation nearly six years ago.
“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,” Metro Vancouver chair Sav Dhaliwal said in a news release. “We have the technology and capacity to safely and efficiently handle this type of material.”
Metro Vancouver said that studies in the Philippines indicated that the garbage is mostly paper and mixed plastics, along with low levels of electronics and household waste.
The trash left Vancouver in 2013 and 2014, supposedly to be recycled. But that never happened.
"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,” Metro Vancouver's zero waste committee chair Jack Froese declared.
Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte had threatened to go to war against Canada if it didn't repatriate the trash.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. even recalled his country's ambassador to Canada to demonstrate his displeasure with the Trudeau government's failure to meet a May 15 deadline to remove the garbage.
That prompted Vancouver Kingsway NDP MP Don Davies to accuse the Canadian government of "utterly shameful" behaviour.
“Delays and refusals to take responsibility for this environmental offence have been committed by successive Conservative and Liberal governments," Davies said on May 17. “I once again call on Justin Trudeau to take back the trash, provide compensation, issue an apology, stop the practice of dumping garbage in developing countries, and hold the shippers financially accountable."
He pointed out that between 2013 and 2014, at least 103 containers of household trash from Canada were sent to the Philippines by a company that falsely claimed that this garbage could be recycled.
Davies noted that the Trudeau government's failure to act led to protests by Philippines residents who were accusing Canada of violating the Basel Convention. It bans the shipment of waste to developing countries without consent.
After the blast from Davies, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna announced that a contract had been reached with Bolloré Logistics Canada to bring the waste back.
Under Metro Vancouver's tipping fee bylaw, it will receive $250 per tonne to dispose of the refuse. It's expected to be completely dealt with before the end of summer.
According to Metro Vancouver's website, the region recycles about 62 percent of its garbage. Metro Vancouver's goal is to raise this to 80 percent.