The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is tightening its grip on garbage — including recyclables – which are being shipped into the Philippines.

“We’ll prepare a department order banning all garbage coming from any other country,” DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu announced updating the department’s personnel in Quezon City about plans of the department to help address entry of hazardous and misdeclared cargo like the controversial shipment of mixed trash from Canada.

Cimatu noted that the DENR sets such policy direction to avoid future similar shipments into the country as well as environmental, health and diplomatic problems that can arise from these imports.

“All recyclables will not be allowed,” the environment chief said.

“All recyclables will not be allowed.” 

DENR aims to issue the order as soon as possible.

“Definitely, we’ll change the policy on importation clearance,” said Vizminda Osorio, DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) assistant director.

EMB technical personnel will review provisions of DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 2013-22 to see which of these must be changed, she noted.

According to DAO 2013-22, recyclable materials containing hazardous substances that may be imported subject to corresponding limiting conditions set in this order are scrap metals, solid plastic materials, electronic assemblies and scrap, used oil and fly ash.

Hazardous substances are substances which present either “short-term acute hazard such as acute toxicity by ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption, being corrosive or other skin or eye contact hazard or the risk of fire or explosion or long-term environmental hazard, including chronic toxicity upon repeated exposure, carcinogenicity (which may in some case result from acute exposure but with a long latent period), resistance to detoxification process such as biodegradation, the potential to pollute underground or surface water, or aesthetically objectionable properties such as offensive odor,” said DAO 2013-22.

Importation of recyclable materials containing hazardous substances requires DENR’s written approval, DAO 2013-22 noted.

Osorio reiterated DENR’s call for local government units nationwide to implement RA 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000).

RA 9003 requires segregating waste so trash fit for recycling can be set aside for conversion into suitable beneficial products, she said.

She said recycling waste generated in the country will help address local demand for foreign recyclables and reduce volume of trash for disposal.

Earlier, DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said entry of misdeclared cargo like the hazardous waste from Canada and trash from South Korea raised the need for stricter importation guidelines.

“There was deceit in importing the waste but if guidelines are stricter, I don’t think shipments like those can enter our country,” Antiporda said.

“There was deceit in importing the waste.”

This year, South Korea already commenced taking back its waste.

Canada followed, pulling out waste-filled containers that have been in the country since 2013.

The latest was a container of electronic waste which was also intercepted and due for shipping back to Hong Kong soon.

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