Immediate Release : Feb.10, 2002
Environmentalists say Canada should not ship toxic wastes to developing
countries even for recycling.
Two BC environmental organizations will ask the Federal Government to stop
exports of Canadian hazardous wastes to developing countries. SPEC and the
Mayne Island Recycling Society (MIRS) will raise the issue at an Environment
Canada consultation on hazardous waste regulations scheduled for 9 a.m. on
February 11 at the Delta Pinnacle Hotel, 1128 W Hastings St, Vancouver.
The federal government wants to allow Canadian companies to ship toxic waste
to developing countries as long as those products are defined as
"But what does 'recyclable' mean?" asks Ann Johnston of MIRS. "What passes
for recycling in China would be completely unacceptable in Canada. Mountains
of shattered computers, each containing up several kgs. of lead, get heaped
along irrigation ditches. Some Chinese villages now bring their drinking
water in by truck because of the impacts of 'recycling' computers from
Johnston notes that last October a CBC Marketplace program revealed that
Canadian e-waste (computers and electronic equipment containing lead,
chromium, cadmium, brominated fire retardants and other hazardous
substances) is being shipped to Pakistan and China for "recycling."
Uncontrolled shipments of toxic waste in the 1980s gave rise to the 1989
Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and
"Canada ratified the Basel Convention a decade ago -- and we should not be
trying to wiggle out of it now by setting up rules that legitimize toxic
trading between unequal partners," said SPEC vice-president Helen
"There is a deep split within the countries that are parties to the Basel
Convention," explained Spiegelman, who attended the December 2002 meeting
of the Basel Convention Parties in Geneva. "The European Union and many
developing countries believe that toxic exports from rich to poor countries
violate the spirit of the Convention."
In 1995, these countries pressed successfully for adoption of an Amendment
to the Convention that would prevent developed countries from shipping
hazardous wastes to undeveloped ones.
Spiegelman supports the ban on shipment of hazardous products from rich to
poor countries and thinks Canadian citizens would also support it. "Not
only will a ban protect developing countries from pressure to provide
services for which they are not equipped, but more importantly it will
pressure Canadian industry to avoid producing the waste in the first place."
The Basel Amendment recognizes that "transboundary movements of hazardous
wastes, especially to developing countries, have a high risk of not
constituting an environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes as
required by this Convention."
Information: Helen Spiegelman SPEC 604 736-7732, 604 731-8464
Ann Johnston MIRS 250 539-2888