BEFORE, there was N-I-M-B-Y, acronym for Not-In-My-Backyard in the waste management jargon. It refers to the attitude of not wanting to see trash accumulate in the immediate surroundings. Bring it someplace else. Out of sight, out of mind.
The NIMBY attitude is what makes the construction of sanitary landfills difficult. The technical requirements for a landfill site are in itself challenging. Public opposition makes it even more difficult. The Ecological Solid Waste Management Law specifies a sanitary landfill as the only acceptable final disposal site.
Now, NIMBY has gone international, and we are a victim of it. I call it NIMC, Not-In-My-Country. Bring my garbage someplace else. Ship it out. The most publicized incident was the Canadian waste fiasco which took six years to resolve. The remaining 69 containers were finally “re-exported” to Canada last My 31. The Canadian government paid the $1.14-million shipping cost as the company that originally shipped it no longer exists.
I read in the news that the Canada-Philippines waste fiasco has affected the environmental credibility of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. That’s not good because election is forthcoming. To brush up his image, he announced that Canada will follow in the European Union's footsteps and ban single-use plastics as early as 2021.
After the Philippines, Malaysia is now also dealing with NIMC. It will be shipping out 450 metric tons of plastic trash to its countries of origin. According to Malaysian Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin, the waste came from the United Kingdom, the United States, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Canada, and China.
The good thing about Malaysia is that they are not putting all the blame on the foreign nations. She is also pointing her finger at the Malaysian importers who brought the garbage in. The Minister calls them “traitors” to their country’s sustainability and vowed to bring them to justice. They will also pay for the return of the garbage to their countries of origin. This is something that I did not see in the case of the Canadian waste. Most of the blame was placed on Canada.
Malaysia said they will not be a dumping ground for developed nations. It seems that there was really intent to send garbage to their country mislabelled as recyclables. When the press was invited to look inside the containers, a mess of mixed materials was found, including “clean” recyclables hiding dirty, non-recyclable materials behind them.
With the handling of the Canadian waste, the Philippines also sent a strong signal that we don’t want to be a dumping ground of other nations. The hazardous waste from Hong Kong was already shipped out last June 3. We still have the Australian and South Korean waste to deal with.
And so we say, NIMC. Deal with your own waste.