The Prime Minister’s announcement and COAG support for a ban on waste exports should be cautiously welcomed and is long overdue following the embarrassing revelations of Australian illegal waste dumping in South East Asia. However, it seems certain that the announcement is designed to distract from a major government push to burn Australia’s waste in polluting incinerators: an industry it quietly supports. As noted by some media reports on the announcement, the government “was exploring using waste in energy plants to power Australian homes.”
The waste and pollution watch group EcoWaste Coalition exhorted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to take President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement against waste importation to heart and bring the Philippines in alliance with other countries that have taken action to ban foreign waste imports.
Last Monday, May 6, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a verbal directive against waste importation amid the country’s long-running garbage feud with Canada.
In Cameroon, plastic bottles, plastic bags, old rubber tyres, end of lives energy saving bulbs, and glass thermometers are frequently and carelessly dumped either on unused land or in water ways, with the risk of transportation to other waterbodies such as lakes or rivers. To eliminate this visual pollution, people living near these spontaneous dumping sites often turn to open burning of waste, with consequences for both ecosystems and human health.