June 29, 2019 / 5:12 PM / 22 days ago

Ship carrying waste arrives back in Canada from the Philippines

The ship Anna Maersk is docked at Roberts Bank port carrying 69 containers of mostly paper and plastic waste returned by the Philippines in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada June 29, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

TORONTO (Reuters) - A ship carrying 69 containers of waste mislabeled as plastic recyclables returned to Canada on Saturday from the Philippines, closing a chapter on a dispute that started in 2013 and sparked a diplomatic furor between Ottawa and Manila.

The shipment was taken off the container ship Anna Maersk docked close to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal and arrived at GCT Deltaport in Delta, British Columbia, part of Greater Vancouver, GCT said in a statement.

Sarah Lusk, Metro Vancouver spokeswoman, said the waste would be sent to a Waste-to-Energy facility in Burnaby where it will be incinerated, but added that there was “uncertainty with respect to timing” and the facility may not receive the waste over the weekend.

The waste containers became part of a diplomatic dispute between Manila and Ottawa, as the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened Canada with war and withdrew top diplomats from Canada after Canada missed a May 15 deadline to take back the waste.

The waste was shipped to the Philippines in 2013 and 2014 and mislabeled as recyclable plastics. Instead, it was filled with garbage including used diapers and newspapers. A Philippine court ruled in 2016 that it be returned.

Canada made arrangements in late May to accept the containers and said they hired Bollore Logistics Canada to safely bring them back as soon as possible.

Waste disposal has emerged as a topic of political dispute between Southeast Asian countries and the developed world, with Malaysia in May becoming the latest to demand nations such as the United States, Japan, France, Canada, Australia and Britain take back 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste.

The government department Environment and Climate Change Canada told Reuters earlier this month that the government was in talks with Malaysia to recover the plastic waste that originated from Canada.

Reporting by Tyler Choi; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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