1,200 Tons of Trash Smuggled to Philippines Returns to Korea

  • By Choi Won-woo

    February 07, 2019 12:34

    Plastic waste that Korea tried to dump in the Philippines late last year has been returned after causing an uproar there.

    According to the Environment Ministry on Wednesday, 51 shipping containers with 1,200 tons of plastic waste sent to the Philippines for ostensible recycling returned to Pyeongtaek port on Sunday.

    A container ship carrying illegally dumped Korean garbage from the Philippines is docked at Pyeongtaek port in Gyeonggi Province on Sunday.

    Korea shipped off 6,500 tons of plastic waste to the Philippines in July and October last year, ostensibly for recycling, but the Philippine government decided to send it back after discovering much illegally dumped garbage such as used diapers and medical waste in it.

    The other 5,300 tons are still stranded in Mindanao.

    Ministry and customs officials are investigating the incident and plan to announce a set of regulations for waste exports. The companies that exported the waste will be fined for the extra cost.

    Environmental activists protest against single-use plastic in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province on Sunday. /Courtesy of Greenpeace

    According to Greenpeace, Korea consumed 6.72 million tons of plastic in 2015, or 132 kg per person on average. More than 70 percent of plastic used in Korean products is not recycled and ends up getting incinerated or shipped overseas.

    A Greenpeace spokesman said, "The Environment Ministry needs to tabulate the amount of plastic consumption by each company and come up with practical targets to lower plastic use."

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