Campaigners, scientists say Trudeau government showed 'bad faith' by using loophole on plastic waste
Evan Dyer - CBC News
Posted: December 03, 2020
Environmental groups are accusing the Trudeau government of acting in bad faith after it quietly signed a bilateral agreement with the U.S. that could allow it to evade some of its obligations to stop shipping plastic waste to poor countries around the world.
The agreement — which was never publicly announced or gazetted — was signed on Oct. 26, 2020, the U.S. State Department told CBC News.
Environment Canada declined CBC's requests to see the text. But experts on plastic waste say it runs counter to the spirit of the Basel Convention on plastic waste and appears to be designed to allow Canada to evade its obligations.
"This is, in effect, a backdoor for Canada to offload its waste problems to the U.S., who will offload to the very countries potentially that the Basel Convention amendment is meant to stop," said Myra Hird of Queens University, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada who represented Canada at the G7's microplastics summit last year.
"It was not the spirit of the amendment and what we were proclaiming to sign on to."
Negative publicityThe plastic waste amendments to the Basel Convention, which take effect on January 1, 2021, effectively limit nations to shipping plastic recyclables only to other signatory countries that are bound by the same rules.
They also require prior informed consent from the receiving country.
Canada accepted those amendments after a flood of negative publicity about Canadian plastic waste — much of it mislabelled as recyclable — being dumped in developing countries such as the Philippines and Cambodia.
A dispute with the Philippines over the issue led to Manila recalling its ambassador to Ottawa, and only ended in May when the Canadian government paid to ship 69 containers of garbage back to Vancouver.
Canada informed the UN on March 9 of this year that it "supports and fully intends to comply" with the ban.