Green groups renewed their calls on the Philippine government for a strong and comprehensive law to ban waste importation.
The calls were made at the meeting of the House of Representatives Ecology Committee last week to deliberate several proposed bills to address waste trade.
In a statement, Greenpeace Philippines and EcoWaste Coalition, said only a robust ban, coupled with the ratification of the Basel Convention Ban Amendment, can effectively stop the dumping of foreign wastes on Philippine shores.
The groups also expressed concern over the slow progress on these two important policy instruments.
“It’s time the government made the move to finally stop the country from being the world’s dumping ground,” said Greenpeace campaigner Marian Ledesma.
She said current laws put exceptions on certain kinds of wastes, and this has created major holes that have been exploited by illegal and hazardous waste traders.
“Our laws need to have teeth in order to be effective,” she said, as she called on Congress to pass a comprehensive waste importation ban that recognizes all trade in waste as illegal.
The groups noted that the Philippines is being left behind by other countries because of the slow progress in ratifying the Basel Convention Ban Amendment.
The Ban Amendment is an international treaty that prohibits the importation of waste from richer countries to their less wealthy counterparts for any reason, including recycling.
Current Philippine laws allow the entry of waste labeled for recycling. However, there have been many cases of waste shipments purportedly for recycling that have been found to be highly contaminated or were actually mixed municipal waste mislabeled as recyclable.
Recently, the country’s Bureau of Customs intercepted 30 containers of waste materials from the US containing waste materials declared as corrugated cardboards.
Further inspections showed that at least three containers were found containing prohibited waste materials, such as used face masks.
“Without strong policies to protect our borders from waste, richer countries will continue to prey on the Philippines’ weak systems that will ultimately expose Filipinos to health and environment hazards,” said Ecowaste coordinator Aileen Lucero.
“We strongly urge the government to immediately ratify the Basel Convention Ban Amendment,” Lucero added.
The call coincided with the anniversary of the Basel Ban Convention Amendment, which entered into force on Dec. 5, 2019.