By Amy Gunia
May 31, 2019

A cargo ship loaded with 69 containers of garbage left the Philippines Friday for Vancouver, Canada amid an escalating diplomat row over international trash exports, Reuters reports.

The refuse return follows Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign to get Ottawa to agree take back its waste, and makes good on threats he issued last week to return the rubbish and dump it in Canadian waters if the country refused.

Canada missed a May 15 deadline to take back truckloads of garbage it sent to the Philippines from 2013 to 2014. The junk, which includes household garbage like plastic bags, bottles, diapers and newspapers, was mislabelled plastic for recycling.

In 2016, a court in the Philippines declared the import of 2,400 tonnes of waste from Canada illegal, according to Reuters.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin posted a picture of the departing trash ship with a message reading “Baaaaaaaaa bye” on Twitter.

Mark Johnson, spokesperson for Canada’s environment and climate change ministry, said, “The government of Canada is taking all the necessary measures to ensure safe and environmentally sound transport, handling and disposal of the waste in Canada.”

Earlier this month, the Philippines called for its ambassadors and consuls in Canada to return home over the trash dispute. Duterte’s spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, said he hopes the diplomatic relationship will normalize, according to Reuters.

Countries in Southeast Asia are increasingly pushing back on developed nations’ trash shipments. Malaysia announced last week that it had begun sending non-recyclable plastic back to the countries it came from.

For years, China accepted the majority of the world’s plastic waste, but last year, Beijing announced a ban amid environmental concerns.

Write to Amy Gunia at amy.gunia@time.com.

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