Petition asks Canadian PM Trudeau to take back illegal trash

MANILA, Philippines – Environmentalists in the Philippines sent a petition to the Office of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, appealing for Canada to take back the illegal garbage that was shipped to Manila.

Called a “Citizen’s Petition,” the letter was sent to both Trudeau’s office and the Canadian Embassy in Makati City on Monday, February 1. 

The petitioners asked Trudeau for 3 things:

Around 1,400 people signed the petition.

The petition, penned by Aileen Lucero of green group EcoWaste Coalition, reminded Canada’s leader of the statement he made about the illegal trash during his visit to Manila for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in November 2015.

“You disappointed us when you vaguely stated that a ‘Canadian solution’ is being developed and made no firm declaration to re-import your garbage,” reads the letter.

The group also emphasized that while they support sustainable disposal of garbage, the Canadian trash in question should end up back in Canada instead of in a Philippine dumpsite or treatment facility.

Treatment of the waste in the Philippines is the preferred option of the Canadian government, according to statements by Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder.

Petitioners called on Trudeau to be more decisive on the issue than his predecessor, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who, they say, “was blind and deaf to our plea for environmental justice.” 

Canada garbage | Photo courtesy of BAN Toxics

Mayors of Philippines cities and towns with dumpsites oppose the dumping of the Canadian garbage in their areas of jurisdiction.

Senators and congressmen have also expressed dismay over the continued stay of the garbage in Philippine ports. 

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Health have racked up expenses due to the stranded garbage inside 103 container vans that accumulated in Manila ports from 2013 to 2014.

The container vans of trash came from Canada and were exported by the same Canadian company, Chronic Incorporated, based in Ontario.

The BOC has filed a case against Philippine-based importer, Chronic Plastics, for smuggling in the garbage.

Lawmakers have urged the Philippine government to take the issue to the international arena by citing the stranded garbage as a violation of an international treaty on hazardous waste – a treaty signed by both the Philippines and Canada.

A green group, BAN Toxics, has sent a letter to the Secretariat of the Basel Convention, the body that monitors the implementation of the treaty by countries.

Some of the garbage has already been dumped in a Philippine landfill. Other container vans remain stranded in Philippine ports.

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at