In 2013 the private company Chronic Plastic Inc. shipped 103 containers labelled as “plastic” (HS3915) to be recycled from Canada to the Philippines. Two-thirds of the shipment contained household waste that was not suitable for recycling. The discovery of this mislabelled waste led to a six-year diplomatic dispute. Canada eventually repatriated 69 containers of junk in 2019. A spokesman for Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine President, declared that diplomatic relationships had been restored. The relationship between the countries was no longer garbage.   Junk has become a valuable resource for …
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Exhibition Debut

Photos by Annika Felder and Igor Vermeer

Found Diagrams of Plastic Waste Production

China's Plastic Waste Import Ban

Diagrams of Plastic Waste Global Market

2013–2019 Canadian Waste Export to Philippines Incident

Screenshots of Global Plastic Waste Data Research

Plastic Waste Import Data Pre- and Post-2018 China Ban

Installation Sketches

The Relationship is No Longer Garbage Film Stills

The Relationship is No Longer Garbage Final Film

The Relationship Is No Longer Garbage

The Anderen

In 2013 the private company Chronic Plastic Inc. shipped 103 containers labelled as “plastic” (HS3915) to be recycled from Canada to the Philippines. Two-thirds of the shipment contained household waste that was not suitable for recycling. The discovery of this mislabelled waste led to a six-year diplomatic dispute. Canada eventually repatriated 69 containers of junk in 2019. A spokesman for Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine President, declared that diplomatic relationships had been restored. The relationship between the countries was no longer garbage.
 
Junk has become a valuable resource for the production of goods, creating a global trade that is constantly adapting to changing legislation. In 2018, China banned the import of foreign waste. Now, plastic rubbish is being diverted to South-East Asian countries that do not have a developed waste-management infrastructure, creating potential economic opportunities and environmental disasters. In the past few months, a number of these countries have also threatened to ban the import of trash, emulating China’s stance against acting as a dumping ground for western nations.
 
Some believed that Duterte was using the trash conflict to score points against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after he criticised Duterte’s human-rights record. Others claimed that Duterte was keen to be seen to stand up to a major, western power. Revealing the tensions and traces of the international trade in junk, Karin Fischnaller and Mar Ginot Blanco transform information from the UN’s Comtrade database into a graphic that accompanies a conversation between the President of the Philippines and the Canadian Prime Minister made possible through video editing.

Credits

Data: UN Monthly Comtrade
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References

Adam Minter, Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade (London: Bloomsbury, 2013).

Alice Ross, “UK household plastics found in illegal dumps in Malaysia,” Greenpeace Unearthed, October 21, 2018. Link

CBC News, “Ship carrying Canadian trash arrives from the Philippines,” YouTube, June 29, 2019. Link

Ellen Airhart, “China Won’t Solve the World’s Plastics Problem Any More,” Wired, July 20, 2018. Link

Erin McCormick et al., “Where does your plastic go? Global investigation reveals America's dirty secret,” The Guardian, June 17, 2019. Link

Global News, “‘We will declare war’ Philippines' Duterte threatens Canada over garbage disposal dispute,” YouTube, April 23, 2019. Link

Greenpeace East Asia, "Data from the global plastics waste trade 2016–2018 and the offshore impact of China’s foreign waste import ban," April 23, 2019. Link

Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser, “Plastic Pollution,” Our World in Data, September 2018. Link

Leslie Hook and John Reed, “Why the world’s recycling system stopped working,” Financial Times, October 25, 2018. Link

Rappler, “Trudeau says ‘now theoretically possible to get back’ Canada trash in PH,” YouTube, November 13, 2017. Link

Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin), “At midnight last night, letters for the recall of our ambassador and consults to Canada went out…” Tweet, May 16, 2019. Link

Tyler Choi, “Ship carrying waste arrives back in Canada from the Philippines,” Reuters, June 29, 2019. Link

United Nations Comtrade Database Link

United Nations Environment Programme, Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (Basel: United Nations, 2014.) Link

“Waste shipment statistics,” Eurostat, January 4, 2019. Link

Bio

The Anderen is an Amsterdam based graphic and information design studio by Karin Fischnaller and Mar Ginot. In today’s complex world The Anderen create visual narratives that share the relevant information: stories, numbers, fiction. They observe, analyse, map and experiment to transform their work into innovative online platforms, publications, visual identities and built work among others.

Contacts

theanderen.com Link

@the.anderen Link