The Philippines has recalled its ambassador to Canada in an escalating row over the disposal of waste wrongly labelled as recyclable, the country’s Foreign Secretary confirmed on Thursday.
“At midnight last night, letters for the recall of our ambassador and consults to Canada went out,” Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teddy Locsin Jr said in a tweet.
“Canada missed the… deadline. And we shall maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there.”
The May 15 deadline was put in place for Canada to retrieve rubbish shipped out in 2014, the BBC reported.
Last month, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said he would “sail to Canada and dump their garbage there”.
Reports have said that the waste amounts to many dozens of containers filled with common household rubbish like soiled nappies.
The Canadian Embassy in Manila told the BBC that they have “made an offer to repatriate the Canadian waste” and are closely engaged with the Philippines “to ensure the shipment’s return as quickly as possible”.
Officials in the Philippines first raised the waste issue with Canada in 2014 after finding that containers of rubbish had been shipped between 2013 and 2014.
They said the containers, which arrived at Manila International Container Port, were falsely labelled as containing plastic meant for recycling but were in fact filled with tonnes of household waste.
Another inspection of the remaining containers in 2015 found they contained non-hazardous municipal waste, including household and street rubbish.
Some remain in storage at the Manila port while others have been disposed off at a large landfill site.