Science and Environment

Group calls for ban on waste importation

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — A green group is calling for a total prohibition on the importation of hazardous waste amid Canada’s failure to take back its illegal garbage export.

Environmental justice group BAN Toxics issued the call for the immediate ban on importing hazardous waste and other garbage in light of the failure of the Canadian government to take back its garbage shipment by the May 15 deadline.

“We appeal to President Duterte to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment immediately. Put the responsibility of policing hazardous waste exporters to the country of export, such as Canada,” BAN Toxics deputy executive director Reynaldo San Juan said.

“We need to be smart in addressing the problem, and the Basel Ban Amendment is a valuable tool toward protecting a significant portion of the population who are put at risk by toxic waste dumping,” he added.

In 2013, 50 containers of household waste were shipped to the Philippines from Canada.

The waste has remained in the country over half a decade later, leading President Duterte to issue a deadline for Canada to take it back.

Canada has agreed to take back the waste but their actions seem constrained by red tape.

The Basel Ban is an amendment to the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes, an international treaty designed to reduce and control the movement of hazardous wastes between countries.

BAN Toxics said the Philippines has been victim to illegal dumping of hazardous wastes and garbage and that the Canadian trash is just one of several incidents.

Early this year, around 1,400 metric tons of household waste from South Korea arrived in the country.

Marine plastic pollution up tenfold

Meanwhile, marine plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980, affecting at least 267 species, according to a report featuring the work of 400 experts from at least 50 countries.

United Nations biodiversity experts said the hard-hitting report into the impact of humans on nature shows that nearly one million species risk becoming extinct within decades, while current efforts to conserve the Earth’s resources will likely fail without radical action.

Presented recently to more than 130 government delegations for their approval at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters, the 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services features the work of experts, coordinated by the Bonn-based Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

The report examined five main drivers of “unprecedented” biodiversity and ecosystem change over the past 50 years, identifying them as changes in land and sea use; direct exploitation of organisms; and climate change, pollution and invasion of alien species.

Although global trends are mixed, the report insists that water and soil pollution have continued to increase in some areas.

“Marine plastic pollution in particular has increased tenfold since 1980, affecting at least 267 species,” the report said. That figure includes 86 percent of marine turtles, 44 percent of seabirds and 43 percent of marine mammals.

The 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is also the first of its kind to examine and include indigenous and local knowledge, issues and priorities, IPBES said in a statement, noting that its mission is to strengthen policymaking for the sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human wellbeing and sustainable development.

“The loss of species, ecosystems and genetic diversity is already a global and generational threat to human wellbeing,” IPBES chairman Sir Robert Watson said.

“Protecting the invaluable contributions of nature to people will be the defining challenge of decades to come. Policies, efforts and actions – at every level – will only succeed, however, when based on the best knowledge and evidence,” Watson said.

On at-risk fauna and flora, the study asserted that human activities “threaten more species now than ever before” – a finding based on the fact that around 25 percent of species in plant and animal groups are vulnerable. – With Pia Lee-Brago

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