An official of the Bureau of Customs in Northern Mindanao (BOC-10) said Saturday it will be sending back the last batch of the South Korean trash to its country of origin next Tuesday (August 4).
In a text message, BOC-10 district collector John Simon said the reshipment will be witnessed by Customs officials and personnel only.
“Inasmuch as we would like you to witness this historic event there are still restricted areas in the port area and social distancing is strictly enforced so will be sending you pictures and videos plus a comprehensive report on our success on the war against Korean waste smuggling,” Simon said.
He said the remaining 80 containers of Korean waste will be loaded on board the vessel BF Mahia. The garbage was supposed to be transported early this year but was put on hold due to the threat of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
In a previous interview, Simon said the ship that was supposed to carry the trash was not allowed to leave port in China due to the surge of the virus infection.
The assorted garbage, composed of discarded plastic and other items, arrived in the region in July and October 2018. It was imported by Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp. to be used supposedly as materials for its plastic recycling facility.
BOC-10 seized the trash and stored it at the Verde Soko facility inside the Phividec Industrial Estate zone in the Misamis Oriental town of Tagoloan after the company was found wrongfully declaring the shipment as “plastic synthetic flakes.”
Verde Soko also failed to secure an import permit from the environment department, several government agencies later found.
The Customs estimated the total tonnage of the trash at 6,500 metric tons contained in 40-foot container vans. A 40-foot van has a carrying capacity of about 30 metric tons.
In a separate statement, the environmental group EcoWaste Coalition said the reshipment of the Korean waste is a victory for those fighting for the environmental protection of the country.
“We’re thrilled to get a confirmation from Port Collector Simon that the last batch of 80 shipping containers of contaminated plastic waste from South Korea will be finally sent back,” said Aileen Lucero, EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator.
Lucero also noted that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has yet to revoke its policy allowing the importation of waste, including “recyclable materials containing hazardous substances” such as electronic, metal and plastic scraps, fly ash, and used oil.
The group also emphasized the need for the Duterte administration to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, an international law that prohibits developed countries from exporting hazardous waste to less developed countries like the Philippines.
“While we cannot be physically present for the send-off rites due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, we reiterate our support to the unswerving efforts of Customs and local government officials to put this dumping controversy to rest,” Lucero said. (PNA)