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Canadian garbage rotting in Manila violates international law, experts say

Filipino environmental activists wear a mock container vans filled with garbage to symbolize the 50 containers of waste that were shipped from Canada to the Philippines two years ago, as they hold a protest outside the Canadian embassy at the financial district of Makati, south of Manila, Philippines on Thursday, May 7, 2015. A Vancouver environmental law firm says Canada broke an international law when it dumped into the Philippines more than 100 shipping containers of garbage improperly labelled as plastics for recycling. The Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation says in a legal opinion done for a coalition of Canadian environment groups that the shipments violate the Basel Convention because either the Canadian company behind them didn't get consent from the Philippines to send the shipments, or it lied about the contents in order to get approval. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Aaron Favila

OTTAWA — A Vancouver environmental law firm says Canada broke international rules when it dumped more than 100 shipping containers of garbage disguised as plastics for recycling into the Philippines.

The Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation says either the Canadian company behind the shipment didn’t get consent from the Philippines, or it lied about the contents in order to get approval, violating an international law known as the Basel Convention.

The legal opinion for a coalition of Canadian environment groups says Canada was required to bring the shipments back within 30 days.

The Basel Convention prevents countries from shipping hazardous waste to the developing world without consent, but Canadian authorities argue the law didn’t apply at the time of the shipments because this country didn’t consider the waste to be hazardous.

The garbage arrived in Manila in multiple shipments in 2013 and 2014 and most remains rotting in ports while Canadian and Filipino authorities fight over how it will be disposed.

Canada is expected to get push back over the dispute from other nations next week when signatories to the Basel Convention meet for a regular discussion in Switzerland.

The Canadian Press

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