Canada should pay more attention to plastic waste exports, Environment Minister says

Plastic waste. Unsplash/Tanvi Sharma

OTTAWA/CMEDIA: After new rules formed to slow down global exports of plastic waste took effect, Canada’s shipments had been reportedly rising by more than 13 percent, and most of it is going to the United States with no track of where it is ending up.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said in an interview that he was worried about that and added, “If we’re shipping plastics that are aimed at recycling, we better make sure that that’s what happens. And frankly, right now, it’s not clear to me that is always the case and in fact, there’s been a number of instances where it’s not.”

Guilbeault said he is talking to his officials about what can be done to fix the problem.

In 2019 Canada’s shipments of garbage falsely labeled as plastics for recycling led to a diplomatic standoff with the Philippines and got international attention when

Being embarrassed Canada said it would work with the Canada Border Services Agency to halt exports of contaminated plastic.

Canada also agreed to amendments to the United Nations Basel Convention on the hazardous waste that added mixed plastic waste to the substances covered by the rules of the convention.

According to the agreement after Jan. 1, 2021, Canada should only be able to export waste to other convention members, after getting prior informed consent from the importing country, and confirmation of how the waste was disposed of.

But Canada signed an agreement a few months before the amendments came into force with the United States allowing for free flow of plastic waste between the two even though the U.S. is not a party to the Basel Convention.

According to the trade data collected by the Basel Action Network, more than 340 million kilograms of plastic waste was exported by the U.S. to just four countries in 2021 — Malaysia, Indonesia, India, and Vietnam.

Calling the Canada-U. S. agreement “a colossal loophole that violates the Basel Convention,” Kathleen Ruff, head of Right On Canada which lobbies against the exports of all hazardous waste said this was not the environmental leadership they were promised.

Canada is not among one hundred of the 188 Basel Convention parties who had ratified that amendment.

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