EU Parliament and Commission firm on cutting plastic pollution, governments must follow

EU Parliament and Commission firm on cutting plastic pollution, governments must follow

Producer responsibility requirements must be stronger, campaigners warn

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brussels, 26/11/2018

“The fight against plastic pollution is one that we can win. The EU plastics laws initiated by the Commission and endorsed by the Parliament are a first step towards a future where plastic doesn’t poison us. If we commit to this together, nobody loses, everybody wins“, said European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans at a press conference today. “The industry is clearly now focusing its energy on the EU Council. It’s up to the Austrian presidency to resist, and maintain the level of ambition initiated by the Commission, and reinforced by Parliament. This is the perfect slot in our history to impulse the virtuous change demanded by citizens. Disappointing them would be tragic”, added Frédérique Ries, who represents the European Parliament in the negotiations on the single-use plastics law.

Mr Timmermans and Ms Ries were speaking beside a three-metre tall dragon spewing single-use plastic litter collected in beach clean-ups, which will stay in front of the Council till Wednesday.

“The Commission and Parliament plan would deal a significant first blow to the monster of plastic pollution, but this plan is at risk. Consumption of throwaway plastic needs to be cut drastically, and the companies making money on the back of this pollution must also be held responsible. If governments don’t ensure the polluter pays, they side with the dragon” said Delphine Lévi Alvarès, European Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic [1].

Campaigners warned that national governments risk weakening ambitious extended producer responsibility (EPR), whereby producers would cover costs for clean-up of litter, for management of plastic waste [2], as well as for awareness raising. Notably, countries may attempt to delay EPR implementation by four years, and exempt waste management costs for some items including the most littered plastic item in Europe: tobacco filters.

“We are at a turning point. Member States must break with short-termism, by holding producers accountable and supporting ambitious prevention and collection measures for fishing gear as well as single-use plastics. EU institutions have the unique chance to spearhead global action on swift and effective solutions to curb plastic pollution.” said Frédérique Mongodin, Seas At Risk senior marine litter policy officer, on behalf of Rethink Plastic. [3]

On November 28, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council are meeting for a second round of negotiations on single-use plastics laws. The third and last negotiation round is to take place on December 18.

ENDS

***
NOTES:

[1] Break Free From Plastic published in October the results of its global brand audits which identify top plastic polluters: https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/globalbrandauditreport2018/

[2] Including putting relevant waste collection infrastructure in place and collecting, transporting and treating this waste.

[3] The European Parliament voted last month in favour of modulated financial contributions to promote eco-design as well as specific 50% collection and 15% recycling targets for fishing gear.

***
Press contacts:

Roberta Arbinolo, Communications Coordinator, Rethink Plastic
roberta@rethinkplasticalliance.eu +32 491 14 31 97

Matt Franklin, Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic
matt@breakfreefromplastic.org / +44 79 23 37 38 31

Frédérique Mongodin, Senior Marine Litter Policy Officer at Seas at Risk
fmongodin@seas-at-risk.org +32 2 893 09 67

Please follow and like us:
20
Black Friday is frying the planet, join Make SMTHNG Week instead: Greenpeace

Black Friday is frying the planet, join Make SMTHNG Week instead: Greenpeace

Hamburg, Germany, 22 November 2018 – To disrupt Black Friday and Cyber Monday as major international moments for consumerism, Greenpeace and partners launch MAKE SMTHNG Week (November 23 – December 2). With more than 300 events in 41 countries, MAKE SMTHNG Week asks people to #BuyNothing and #MakeSmthng instead.

We are already drowning in stuff – stuffed wardrobes, garages, and kitchens – yet we keep on shopping for more fashion, gadgets, food, single-use plastic, toys, and cars. With our throwaway lifestyles we are fuelling climate change, pollution and the destruction of people’s homes and irreplaceable natural wonders. MAKE SMTHNG Week offers a fun and creative way out of this wasteful consumerism,” said Robin Perkins, Make SMTHNG campaigner at Greenpeace.

By sharing, caring, and repairing things we can make more of what we already own and give our beautiful planet a break,” he added.

Greenpeace, its global partners — Fashion Revolution, #BreakFreeFromPlastic, Shareable, Arts Thread, the Fab Labs Network and the Fab City Global Initiative, will bring together hundreds of designers, artists and makers to lead workshops where people can learn creative techniques of reuse, repairing, fashion upcycling and DIY.

Events include making sustainable Christmas presents, living a plastic-free life, community repair cafes, books and clothes swaps, and zero waste cooking — in 32 countries from Qatar to Peru, Canada, India, Germany, Italy, UK, South Africa and Spain.

Shopping does not make us happy. But being with friends and people, learning new skills, and valuing what we already have, does. So this Black Friday, buy nothing and make something!” said Perkins.

On August first this year, humanity used up more natural resources than the planet is able to reproduce in a year. The over-consumption of convenience products like fast-fashion, single use paper and plastics, gadgets or toys designed not to last, and industrially-produced food, is pushing our planet to its limits.

“Large corporations continue to put profits first, while they reduce the quality, repairability and versatility of their products. Through omnipresent advertising we are told, again and again, to buy more and more stuff we don’t need. Companies won’t change unless we show them people want something different. Together we have to build something that will make this outdated, wasteful model obsolete,” added Perkins. ENDS

Photos and videos can be accessed here.

Notes:

About MAKE SMTHNG week: Website; Resources to get involved; Press Kit; Instagram

#DisruptBlackFriday #BuyNothing #MakeSmthng

Contacts:

Lu Yen Roloff, Comms & Digital Engagement Lead, Germany: lroloff@greenpeace.org, +49 151 10028267

Greenpeace International Press Desk: pressdesk.int@greenpeace.org, +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)

Please follow and like us:
20
Plastics industry executives wrong on several points

Plastics industry executives wrong on several points

Written by Conrad MacKerron and Tim Smith. Originally posted in PlasticNews.

Walden Asset Management, in collaboration with As You Sow, recently wrote to the CEOs of nine companies arguing that membership in the Plastics Industry Association supports lobbying for statewide preemption laws that prohibit 70 million Americans in 10 states from the freedom to choose to enact bag ordinances to reduce plastics waste in their communities. Our goal was to end financial and brand support for plastic bag preemption lobbying that is usurping local community rights.

In a Nov. 5 article in Plastics News discussing this initiative (“Green investor pushes back on bag ban policy,” Page 1), the association and its subsidiary, the American Progressive Bag Alliance, made several incorrect and questionable assertions.

The groups assert that bans and taxes have never been shown to reduce litter. Fees on plastic bags have been shown to reduce litter in many credible, impartial studies. According to a recent study measuring trends over 25 years from the United Kingdom government’s Center for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, there are significantly fewer plastic bags on the seafloor after several European countries introduced bag fees. The study was based on 39 independent scientific surveys of the distribution of marine litter on seabeds between 1992 and 2017. A Scientific American posting notes that a plastic bag tax levied in Ireland in 2002 led to a 95 percent reduction in plastic bag litter, and a study by San Jose, Calif., found that a 2011 ban led to a plastic litter reduction of 89 percent in storm drains, 60 percent in creeks and rivers, and 59 percent in city streets and neighborhoods.

Analysis of plastic shopping bag collection in California during the annual Coastal Cleanup before and after its bag fee was enacted shows a significant 30 percent decline in plastic bag litter on beaches. The Austin Resource Recovery study found that the Single-Use Bag Ordinance was successful in reducing plastic bag litter in the city.

Plastics Industry Association CEO Bill Carteaux asserts that plastic bags are the most environmentally friendly and sustainable option. The industry says production of bags uses fewer greenhouse gases than other materials. Life cycle assessments cited by the plastics and chemical industry do not factor in the most harmful and long-lasting impact of plastic bags: pollution to land, rivers and oceans. Millions of birds and fish are impaired or choked to death by plastics bags and plastic particles from degraded bags. Cattle, moose and reindeer also suffer from eating plastic bags polluted to land.

The association says that recycling is the best solution to plastic bag waste management, but efforts to recycle plastic bags cannot be viewed as successful. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that just 5 percent of plastic bags are recycled. There are many reasons for this, but most fundamental is the unwillingness of the plastics industry or end-user brands to take responsibility for the costs of developing state-of-the-art collection, processing, and recycling programs and materials markets. Instead, the association blames consumers for littering the bags and expects consumers to pay most of the costs for having them collected and landfilled or recycled.

Lastly, Carteaux asserts that the Plastics Industry Association and APBA are separately funded organizations. The groups are a single financial entity as defined by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service regulations. Plastics News on Jan. 12 stated “APBA, while a nonprofit, is not required to release a tax return because it operates as part of the Plastics Industry Association in Washington.” Member dues to the Plastics Industry Association support the budget of APBA for the costs of their shared office space, shared webpage hosting and other shared overhead costs. In order for the association and APBA to be financially separate entities, separate organizations must be established with separate IRS financial filings.

Support of plastic bag preemption lobbying is a demonstrated conflict with company commitments to reduce plastic pollution and is a brand risk. Companies have the choice to demonstrate leadership on plastic pollution now.

Tim Smith is director of ESG shareowner engagement at Walden Asset Management. Conrad MacKerron is senior vice president at As You Sow.

 

Please follow and like us:
20
4,000 tons of single-use plastic produced annually

4,000 tons of single-use plastic produced annually

Written by Mehedi Al Amin. Originally posted in Dhaka Tribune.

In Old Dhaka alone, around 250 tons of non-recyclable products such as straws and plastic cutlery are being sold every month.

An estimated 312 tons of single-use plastic is produced per month in Bangladesh, posing a serious threat to the nation’s health and the environment, experts warned on Wednesday.

The “Stop using single use plastic to protect human health and Environment” report released by the Environment and Social Development Organization (Esdo) found that per year, 3,744 tons of single-use plastics are produced nationwide.

In Old Dhaka alone, around 250 tons of non-recyclable products such as straws and plastic cutlery are being sold every month.

Among the produced plastics, approximately 80-85% are discarded after one use and end up in drains, canals and rivers, creating massive pollution in the rivers which eventually ends up in the Bay of Bengal.

The report revealed that only five manufacturers make around 97.5 million pieces of products per month, which weigh a combined 195 tons.

“In Bangladesh, manufacturers are using single use plastics for packaging various food products, household and personal care products,” Esdo Chairperson Syed Marghub Murshed said at a press conference in Dhaka on Wednesday.

Single-use plastics include drinking straws, plastic cotton buds, sachets, food packaging and plastic bags. In the slow process of their decomposition, the plastics release toxic chemicals which are now being detected in human bloodstreams and  may cause cancer, infertility, birth defects and many other ailments.

“This plastic contains many different chemicals with endocrine disrupting properties including solvents, UV stabilizers, phthalates, antimicrobials, and industrial additives,” the Esdo chairperson said.

Professor Md Abul Hashem, chairman of chemical division of Bangladesh Standards Testing Institute, said awareness should be raised against the use of single use plastics.

“They are a big environmental problem and are causing massive issues that affect human and animal health,” he said.

Secretary General of Esdo, Dr Shahriar Hossain, said foamed plastic contains styrene and benzene which are toxic and carcinogenic.

“They have severe effects on our respiratory, nervous and reproductive systems,” he said.

“We use single-use plastic only for our comfort. We need to ban this plastic. There are more environment-friendly alternatives, for example bamboo or glass.”

Please follow and like us:
20
Photo Essay: By The Ocean We Unite

Photo Essay: By The Ocean We Unite

Photo: @estrellafb

by: Anouk Van De Beek

Imagine being on a sailing ship, only seeing the ocean’s vastness, working with the elements, no other distractions whatsoever. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 2014 Dutch sailor Thomas van Thiel was already ten days out on the open sea when he suddenly saw a plastic bottle floating around. He was shocked, seeing something man-made that far from civilization. He started to see plastic everywhere and decided to take action. By the ocean we unite was born – a foundation that contributes to research worldwide, creates awareness and educates and activates people, organisations and governments to make much needed changes. It only takes one decision to start a whole movement.

The Mediterranean is one of the most polluted seas of the world. If on this tiny piece of the earth along the coast we easily fill up a bag with garbage that big that we literally have to push it through the door of our campervan, we can only feel confronted with our own behaviour; this is how we are treating the earth. It is not them, it is all of us, it is everywhere. 80% of all the waste in our oceans comes from land. Start cleaning your environment whenever you can! It is not THE solution. Letting the plastics go through your own hands does make you feel part of the problem, it makes you feel responsible. You’ll start to think of solutions, preventing more plastic from ending up in the ocean by reducing it at source.

 

You can see the whole documentary online, for free! www.anoukvandebeek.com

In 2016 it all came together: my love for the ocean, my desire to experience filmmaking and the need I felt to communicate a message about humans and the ocean. Thomas from By The Ocean We Unite asked me to join him and tell the world about the ocean. One subject stayed with us, it was tangible, we could not neglect it: plastic. This planet is a blue planet, seen from space. What happens when the biggest part of our planet is filled up with plastic in the form of bigger plastics, micro plastics and nano plastics? Our journey had started, we gathered a team for our first sailing expedition ‘Up to Norway’. By now, so many awesome people have joined us on our mission, Ziggy Alberts being one of them. His song ‘The Ocean Song’ immediately came to my mind when I started to make ‘By the Ocean we Unite – an awareness journey into plastic pollution’.

Throwing away is something we do naturally, it is part of the cycle of life. The problem is that ‘away’ is not ‘away’ when we talk about plastic. It can easily take more than a lifetime for it to disappear. By that time it will have killed animals and polluted our environment. Even many biodegradable products will only degrade under certain circumstances and not in the open environment, let alone in the ocean, where most of the waste from land ends up anyway. On the contrary, throwing away a piece of apple or carrot will contribute to a nice compost for our plants and trees, building a healthy soil. These days I am enjoying throwing away organic material and compost it. . Start throwing away more things that benefit the earth! Grow your own food, start to plant trees and buy more plastic free products.

 

 

Please follow and like us:
20