WASTE FROM SOUTH KOREA. An engineer checks the pile of plastic waste stored at the facility of Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp. inside the Phividec Industrial Estate in Barangay Santa Cruz, Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental. The 6,500 tons of trash will be shipped back to South Korea on January 9. (File photo by Jigger J. Jerusalem)
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — The tons of plastic wastes that arrived in the country from South Korea, supposedly to be used as raw materials for a recycling facility in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, will finally be brought back to its country of origin, even as an environmental group called for vigilance to avoid repetition of the incident.
In a statement dated Jan. 4, the EcoWaste Coalition said the Philippine and South Korean governments have agreed to the return of some 6,500 tons of “mixed wastes” that are currently stored at the facility of the Phividec Industrial Authority in Tagoloan town.
Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corporation, meanwhile, has kept on calling it "processed raw materials" supposedly to be used in the manufacture of alternative fuel.
EcoWaste national coordinator Aileen Lucero said they “look ahead to the imminent return of the Korean mixed garbage shipments to their source, and to the adoption of stringent policies to prevent their recurrence, including a crackdown on the importation of plastic waste.”
The agreement was made following a bilateral meeting between the two governments last December in Tagoloan, attended by local and foreign officials including a four-member delegation from South Korea led by Lee Jong Min from the Ministry of Environment.
The plastic trash, which was imported by Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp., arrived at the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) in Tagoloan from Pyongtaek City, South Korea, in July and October last year. The firm's management said the plastic wastes were supposed to be processed in its recycling plant in Sitio Buguac, Barangay Santa Cruz of said town.
The finished product in the form of pellets and briquettes, will then be exported to South Korea and China to be made into furniture and other items.
The shipment was, however, put on hold by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) due to lack of import permit from the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
MCT sub-port collector John Simon, in a press conference last Wednesday, Jan. 2, said they have set the date for reshipment of the 51 containers of trash to South Korea on January 9.
“We expect the 51 garbage-filled containers stored at MICT to be homebound by January 9 provided that all regulatory requirements are readily available. Their expedited re-export is what BOC wants and this is what our people are yearning for,” Simon was quoted as saying.
He said that “arrangements will be made” to re-export the rest of the garbage within this month.
Aside from the failure of the consignee, Verde Soko, to obtain an import permit for the plastic waste, Simon also alleged that the company wrongfully declared the shipment as “plastic synthetic flakes” although inspectors found plastic materials of other shapes and sizes during an inspection.
The re-exportation order is pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act; Republic Act 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act; and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, the BOC said.
On Nov. 21, 2018, the government of South Korea announced: “The Ministry of Environment on November 21 initiated legal procedure to have the wastes in question in the Philippines be brought back in accordance with Article 20 of the Law on Crossborder movement and Disposal of Wastes – Prior Notice of Repatriation Order – and embarked on investigation of the violation of Article 18-2 of the said law – False Export Declaration.”