Asian countries take a stand against world’s plastic waste

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June 27, 2019 - 10:19 AM

A container filled with plastic waste from Australia. TNS

MANILA, Philippines — When the MV Bavaria cargo ship chugged out of a Philippine port one morning last month carrying 69 containers of rotted Canadian garbage, it didn’t just end a messy diplomatic spat between the two countries.

It also signaled a sea change in the global recycling system.

After years of pressure, Canada had agreed to take back the waste, which had been exported to the Philippines beginning in 2013 falsely labeled as plastic scrap. The shipments were part of a decades-old practice in which rich countries including the United States sent used plastic to Asia to be recycled. Often, the shipments included contaminated waste that couldn’t be recycled but made it past customs checks anyway, and countries had few legal avenues to send it back.

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