Mandaluyong City, Philippines, 9 November 2018 — Green groups today challenged the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to live up to its stated mandate and stop financing any form of waste incineration. Incineration, including so-called “waste-to-energy” (WTE) incineration, is a dangerous, costly, and unsustainable method of treating waste. The groups contend that ADB is flouting local and international laws by promoting incineration, and that the bank should facilitate—instead of obstruct—Asia-Pacific’s transition toward a sustainable circular economy.
The call came during the launch of the report ADB and Waste Incineration: Bankrolling Pollution; Blocking Solutions  published by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). The report is a critical review of how ADB promotes investments in WTE incineration despite documented negative impacts of these facilities on public health, environment, economy, and the climate. Joining the launch to call for the bank to pull out of waste incineration funding were No Burn Pilipinas, EcoWaste Coalition, Break Free From Plastic, Greenpeace, Healthcare Without Harm, Mother Earth Foundation, and the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ).
“Incinerator financing is a classic example of ADB’s schizophrenic funding policy,” said Lea Guerrero, GAIA climate and clean energy campaigner. “The bank is using public money to promote dirty and destructive projects that serve to prevent countries in the region from pursuing solutions that conserve resources, protect health and which do not harm the climate. This report challenges ADB to innovate, not incinerate: the world is already moving away from incineration and transitioning to a sustainable circular economy. ADB should follow suit and fund just, equitable Zero Waste systems that will enable this transition.”
The report shows that WTE incinerator facilities advanced by ADB present significant investment risks, fail to comply with key provisions of the bank’s safeguard standards as well as core pillars of the bank’s poverty reduction strategy, and present a lack of accountability to the very people within member countries it is mandated to serve. In Asia, the bank is the leading agency that is bringing the failed incineration model from the Global North. It also proactively partners with waste incineration companies to build WTE incinerators in the region. These facilities lock countries into enormous (and onerous) debts for environmentally and publicly harmful projects with exploitative “put-or-pay” contracts that obstruct the adoption of best practices for dealing with resources and waste.
Among incineration projects funded by ADB are incinerator facilities in China and Vietnam. The bank also recommends waste incineration to other countries through its technical assistance (TA) projects, such as in the Philippines.
“In the Philippines, ADB’s pro-incinerator policies contravene the country’s Clean Air, Ecological Solid Waste Management, and Renewable Energy laws,” said Glenn Ymata, No Burn Pilipinas campaign manager. “Aside from clearly going against its safeguard standards, ADB is potentially locking cities and municipalities, already stretched for funds, into decades of wastage and indebtedness. It is business as usual for ADB and it has been the same for over 50 years.”
Last October, the bank announced that its lending portfolio has no place for “dirty energy”. Green groups assert that WTE incineration is dirty energy and should not be financed by the bank. “ADB’s funding of incinerators is based on the industry lie that WTE incineration is renewable energy,” said of PMCJ. “WTE incineration is polluting, carbon intensive, and takes investments away from real RE solutions. It should not be part of the ADB’s portfolio.”###
Read the Executive Summary HERE.
- Sherma Benosa | Communications Officer, GAIA Asia Pacific | +63 9178157570 firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE TO EDITORS
 The report highlights that incinerators 1) have adverse impacts on the health and wellbeing of people and the environment ; 2) contribute to climate change; 3) damage local and national economies; and 4) obstruct resource sustainability. WTE incineration is the most expensive way to manage waste and generate electricity and perpetuate the unsustainable “take, make, waste” linear economic model that abets climate change and pollution. At present, incinerator and WTE incinerator facilities are seeing a phaseout in Europe in recognition that incineration is not compatible with a sustainable, low-carbon, and resource-efficient circular economy.
10 November 2018, Quezon City. A national environmental health and justice organization denounced the entry of misdeclared plastic trash from South Korea, a highly developed economy, to a country like the Philippines, which is struggling to address its own garbage woes.
Fearing a repeat of the still unresolved Canadian garbage dumping scandal, the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition called on the authorities to reject the illegal garbage imports from South Korea and to return them at once to their origin.
Bandila, the late night news broadcast of ABS CBN, reported about the garbage importation controversy on November 10. The report can be viewed here:
“We find this latest incident of plastic waste dumping outrageous and unacceptable. Why do we keep on accepting garbage from other countries when we know that our country’s plastic waste, which is literally everywhere, is spilling to the oceans and endangering marine life?,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“We also find it ironic that while South Korea is taking action to control its plastic waste, including banning plastic bags in supermarkets starting October this year, and yet its unwanted plastics are being sent abroad,” she said.
“It’s high time for the Philippines to disallow garbage imports and to demand that developed countries, as well as manufacturers of plastics and other disposable goods, take full responsibility for their products throughout their whole life cycle,” she emphasized.
“The illegal garbage shipments from Canada misrepresented as recyclable plastic scraps, which are still in our country, are a stinking reminder of how disadvantageous and unjust global waste trade is,” she reminded.
According to the “request of alert order” issued on October 25,2018 by Joel Pinawin, Supervisor, Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, Bureau of Customs (BOC) – Cagayan De Oro City, the baled garbage misdeclared as “plastic synthetic flakes” arrived from South Korea on board MV Affluent Ocean on July 21, 2018.
As per the said document, the shipment was consigned to Verde Soko Phil. Industrial Corp. and the “violation committed” was in relation to Section 1400 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act on “Misdeclaration, Misclassification, Undervaluation in Goods Declaration,” one of the crimes punishable under the said law.
As stated by John Simon,Port Collector, Mindanao International Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental: “Kapag plastic flakes, dapat puro plastic flakes ang makikita mo diyan. Pero hinde, nakita naming may kahoy at iba’t ibang materials.”
The incident prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to renew the clarion call it made in 2017 for the government to ban plastic waste imports and for domestic industries requiring plastic scrap inputs to source their supplies locally.
“Barring the importation of plastic garbage should form part of the government’s efforts to improve existing regulations to avoid a repeat of the Canadian garbage saga,” the group said.
“Imposing an import ban on scrap plastics may even prompt local industries to seek ways to retrieve locally-generated plastic discards,” which can help in reducing the amount of plastics leaking to water bodies,” the group added.
The EcoWaste Coalition made the call after China announced that it will prohibit the importation of scrap plastics and other wastes by January 2018 “to protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health.”
The government of Malaysia announced last month that it will phase out in three years the importation of all types of plastic waste following the Chinese ban on waste imports. -end-
https://news.abs-cbn.com/video/news/11/10/18/basura-mula-south-korea-dumating-sa-pilipinas (go to 0:09-0:15 to see the “Request of Alert Order”)
Unit 336, Eagle Court, 26 Matalino St., 1100 Quezon City, Philippines
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Written by Greenpeace International. Article originally appeared in Greenpeace.
Jakarta, Indonesia – Fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) corporations are a predominant force behind the throwaway economic model driving the plastic pollution crisis, according to a comprehensive sector survey Greenpeace International released today. None of the companies surveyed have plans to put the brakes on the growing production and marketing of single-use plastics, while the solutions they are exploring will only perpetuate the problem.
“We hoped to identify industry leaders through this process, but instead found that the whole sector has failed to take responsibility for the plastic pollution crisis and is instead trying to maintain the status quo,” said Ahmad Ashov, Global Plastics Project Leader, Greenpeace Indonesia. “There is a lack of transparency and all current public commitments by these companies allow for an increased use of single-use plastic in the future. That needs to change.”
“Their current business model is based on the assumption that ultimately all plastic packaging can, and will, be collected and recycled into new packaging or products.”
The four companies that reported the highest sales of single-use plastic products (Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Danone) were also the top four brands identified in a recent global Break Free From Plastic brand audit report following 239 plastic pollution cleanups in 42 countries.
Greenpeace’s report, “A Crisis of Convenience: The corporations behind the plastics pollution pandemic”, focuses on 11 of the biggest FMCG companies: Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Johnson and Johnson, Kraft Heinz, Mars, Nestlé, Mondelez, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Unilever.
- Single-use packaging is the main delivery system used by all of the FMCG companies, with no signs of changing.
- None of the surveyed FMCG companies have comprehensive strategies that include commitments to move away from single-use plastic.
- Most FMCG companies are actually increasing the amount of single-use plastic packaging and waste they produce.
- Most FMCG companies know or disclose little about the amount of their packaging that is recycled and even less about the destination of their plastic waste after consumption.
- Despite their significant plastic footprint, solutions being explored by businesses are primarily related to addressing recyclability or recycling, not reducing or creating new delivery systems.
- There is a lack of transparency in the sector and few FMCG companies are willing to disclose important data about their plastic use.
The survey looked to determine the degree to which FMCG commitments, actions and performance are addressing the environmental and social impacts of their plastic packaging and waste.
“The sector urgently needs to change its business model and prepare for a world where disposable products and packaging are no longer acceptable,” said Ashov.
The FMCG sector represents one of the largest industries worldwide. Most FMCG companies are growing at rates between 1 – 6% each year. If current trends continue, their use of single-use plastic will increase in parallel.
Photo and video here
 Greenpeace International research for this report assessing the public statements made in 2017/2018 corporate annual reports of Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Kraft-Heinz, Mondelez, Colgate Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, and Danone.
See full report “A Crisis of Convenience: The corporations behind the plastics pollution pandemic” can be accessed here.
Break Free From Plastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Their brand audit report is here.
Greenpeace International Press Desk, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)
Written by Sharon Kelly. Originally posted in Desmog.
The petrochemical industry anticipates spending a total of over $200 billion on factories, pipelines, and other infrastructure in the U.S. that will rely on shale gas, the American Chemistry Council announced in September. Construction is already underway at many sites.
This building spree would dramatically expand the Gulf Coast’s petrochemical corridor (known locally as “Cancer Alley”) — and establish a new plastics and petrochemical belt across states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
If those projects are completed, analysts predict the U.S. would flip from one of the world’s highest-cost producers of plastics and chemicals to one of the cheapest, using raw materials and energy from fracked gas wells in states like Texas, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Those petrochemical plans could have profound consequences for a planet already showing signs of dangerous warming and a cascade of other impacts from climate change.
The gathering wave of construction comes as the Trump administration works to deregulate American industry and roll back pollution controls, putting the U.S. at odds with the rest of the world’s efforts to slow climate change.
Trump announced in June 2017 that the U.S. had halted all implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement and intends to fully withdraw. America is now the world’s only state refusing participationin the global agreement to curb climate change (after Syria, the final holdout, signed in November 2017).
This petrochemical industry expansion — much of it funded by foreign investors — makes America’s refusal to participate in the Paris Agreement all the more significant, because much of this new U.S. infrastructure would be built outside of the greenhouse gas agreement affecting the rest of the globe.
If American policy makers approve this wave of new plastics and petrochemical plants with little regard to curbing climate change and reducing fossil fuel use, environmentalists warn, they’ll be greenlighting hundreds of billions of dollars of investment into projects at risk of becoming stranded assets.
From Rust Belt to Plastics Belt
Some of the largest and most expensive petrochemical projects in the U.S. are planned in the Rust Belt states of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York, a region that has suffered for decades from the collapse of the domestic steel industry but that has relatively little experience with the kind of petrochemical complexes that are now primarily found on the Gulf Coast.
In November 2017, the China Energy Investment Corp., signed a Memorandum of Understanding with West Virginia that would result in the construction of $83.7 billion in plastics and petrochemicals projects over the next 20 years in that state alone — a huge slice of the $202.4 billion U.S. total. Those plans have run into snags due to trade disputes between the U.S. and China and a corruption probe, though Chinese officials said in late August that investment was moving forward.
The petrochemical industry’s interest is spurred by the fact that the region’s Marcellus and Utica shales contain significant supplies of so-called “wet gas.” This wet gas often is treated as a footnote in discussions of fracking, which tend to focus on the methane gas, called “dry gas” by industry — and not the ethane, propane, butane, and other hydrocarbons that also come from those same wells.
Those “wet” fossil fuels and chemical feedstocks are commonly referred to as “natural gas liquids,” or NGLs, because they are delivered to customers condensed into a liquid form — like the liquid butane trapped in a Bic lighter, which expands into a stream of flammable gas when you flick that lighter on.
Ethane can represent a surprising amount of the fossil fuel from a fracked shale well, particularly in the Marcellus. For every 6,000 cubic feet of methane (the energy equivalent of the industry’s standard 42 gallon barrel of oil), Marcellus wet gas wells can produce up to roughly 35 gallons of ethane, based on data reported by the American Oil and Gas Reporter in 2011.
And U.S. ethane production is projected to grow dramatically. By 2022, the region will produce roughly 800,000 barrels of ethane per day, up from 470,000 barrels a day in 2017, according to energy consultant RBN Energy.
That supply glut is driving down ethane prices in the Rust Belt.
“The lowest price ethane on the planet is here in this region,” Brian Anderson, Director of the West Virginia University Energy Institute, told the NEP Northeast U.S. Petrochemical Construction conference in Pittsburgh in June.
Chemicals and the Climate
Image projected onto Houston petrochemical plant during the Houston Toxic Tour, 2017. Credit: Backbone Campaign, CC BY 2.0
The petrochemical and plastics industries are notoriously polluting, not only when it comes to toxic air pollution and plastic waste, but also because of the industry’s significant greenhouse gas footprint — affecting not only the U.S., but the entire world.
“The chemical and petrochemical sector is by far the largest industrial energy user, accounting for roughly 10 percent of total worldwide final energy demand and 7 percent of global [greenhouse gas] emissions,” the International Energy Agency reported in 2013. Since then the numbers have crept up, with the IEA finding petrochemicals responsible for an additional percentage point of the world’s total energy consumption in 2017.
Carbon emissions from petrochemical and plastics manufacturing are expected to grow 20 percent by 2030 (in other words, in just over a decade), the IEA concluded in a report released October 5. A few days later, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that by 2030, the world needs to have reduced its greenhouse gas pollution 45 percent from 2010 levels, in order to achieve the goal of limiting global warming to a less-catastrophic 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
The petrochemicals industry has so far drawn relatively little attention from oil and gas analysts and policy makers. “Petrochemicals are one of the key blind spots in the global energy debate, especially given the influence they will exert on future energy trends,” Dr. Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, said in a statement this month.
“In fact,” he added, “our analysis shows they will have a greater influence on the future of oil demand than cars, trucks and aviation.”
The new investments, which will rely on decades of continued fracking in the U.S, offer the oil and gas industry a serious hedge against competition from renewable energy, even in the event that climate policies push fossil fuel energy to the margins.
“Unlike refining, and ultimately unlike oil, which will see a moment when the growth will stop, we actually don’t anticipate that with petrochemicals,” Andrew Brown, upstream director for Royal Dutch Shell, told the San Antonio Express News in March.
The planned infrastructure could also help bail out the heavily indebted shale drilling industry financially by consuming vast amounts of fossil fuels, both for power and as a raw material.
The American Chemistry Council has linked 333 chemical industry projects, all announced since 2010, to shale gas — that is, gas that is produced using fracking. Forty-one percent of those projects are still in the planning phase as of September, according to the council, and 68 percent of the projects are linked to foreign investment.
State regulators in Texas and Louisiana have already issued permits that would allow a group of 74 petrochemical and liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects along the Gulf Coast to add 134 million tons of greenhouse gases a year to the atmosphere, an Environmental Integrity Project analysis found in September. The group said that was equal to the pollution from running 29 new coal power plants around the clock.
The expansion of plastics manufacturing in America also has environmentalists worried over a plastics pollution crisis. “We could be locking in decades of expanded plastics production at precisely the time the world is realizing we should use far less of it,” Carroll Muffett, president of the U.S. Center for International Environmental Law, told The Guardian in December 2017.
This story is part of Fracking for Plastics, a DeSmog investigation into the proposed petrochemical build-out in the Rust Belt and the major players involved, along with the environmental, health, and socio-economic implications.
The petrochemical industry transforms ethane and other raw material into a huge range of products, including not only plastic, but also vinyl, fertilizers, Styrofoam, beauty products, chemicals, and pesticides.
The petrochemicals industry itself straddles an uncomfortable fence when it comes to renewable energy and climate change. A significant portion of its revenue comes from “clean” technology sectors, as it provides materials used to make batteries and electric cars.
One report last year concluded that roughly 20 percent of the industry’s revenue comes from products designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the American Chemistry Council cited the industry’s role supplying “materials and technologies that improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions,” as it opposed Trump’s decision to drop out of the Paris Agreement.
But petrochemical manufacturers are also heavily reliant on fossil fuels. They need them to power and supply a dreamed-of “manufacturing renaissance,” as the ExxonMobil-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute explained as it pushed for Trump to abandon the Paris Agreement.
Plans to use American shale gas would also link petrochemicals to the expansion of fracking, which carries its own environmental concerns. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s landmark study on fracking and drinking water concluded in 2016 that fracking has led to water contamination and poses continued risks to American water supplies.
In addition, though conversations about climate change usually focus on carbon emissions, the gas industry has such a bad methane leak problem that using natural gas can be even worse for the climate than burning coal.
“We share IEA’s view that the production, use and disposal of petrochemical-derived products present a variety of environmental challenges that need to be addressed,” the American Chemistry Council said in a statement sent to DeSmog, which also cited the use of petrochemical products in the renewable energy industry and the manufacture of products that raise energy efficiency like home insulation and lighter auto parts. “We are committed to managing energy use in our companies and manufacturing facilities.”
Pittsburgh and Paris
Climate implications make a petrochemical build-out risky, not only from an environmental perspective, but also from a fiscal perspective, Mark Dixon, co-founder of NoPetroPA, which opposes fracking-based petrochemicals projects, told DeSmog.
One plant, Shell’s $6 billion ethane “cracker” plant currently under construction in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, has permits to pump 2.25 million tons of CO2 equivalent per year into the air near Pittsburgh, roughly equal to the annual carbon pollution from 430,000 cars.
Industry advocates say the region can produce enough ethane to support up to seven more ethane cracker plantslike Shell’s.
“We’re trying to drop our emissions 50 percent by 2030,” Dixon said, referring to Pittsburgh’s highly touted plans to comply with international climate targets despite the federal government’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. “The Shell cracker alone will decimate that.”
A kayaker protests against Shell’s cracker project outside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in June 2018. Credit: Mark Dixon, CC BY 2.0
International negotiators met in Bangkok in September to hash out details on how the Paris Agreement will be implemented. The U.S., which participated in talks despite the Trump administration’s intention to withdraw from the accord, faced criticism over working to delay clarity over the agreement’s financing (nonetheless, a top UN negotiator praised “good progress” from the talks).
While the Paris Agreement is not directly binding, globally there has been discussion of using trade agreements and tariffs to pressure countries that fail to keep up with their carbon-cutting commitments.
In February, the European Union (EU) declared that it will not sign new trade agreements with any country that refuses to get on board with the Paris Agreement.
“One of our main demands is that any country who signs a trade agreement with EU should implement the Paris Agreement on the ground,” France’s foreign affairs minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne told the French Parliament. “No Paris Agreement, no trade agreement.”
“They’re already shooting across the bow, saying look, you’ve got to implement the Paris climate agreement,” Dixon told DeSmog. “We could very well spend 10 years building an infrastructure to support fracking all over the region, crackers, ethane, plastics, everything, then have Europe say, ‘sorry, you can’t do that. You have to shut it down.’”
In other words, whether or not the U.S. puts its signature on the climate pact’s dotted line, the pressure from trading partners to reduce greenhouse gas pollution — and the underlying concerns about the rapidly warming climate — could remain the same.
That said, while the U.S. is the only country to reject Paris on paper, it is far from the only country on track to miss its targets aimed at warding off catastrophic climate change. Only Morocco and The Gambia are projected to hit “Paris Agreement Compatible” targets, according to the Climate Action Tracker (whose rating tracker includes many major polluters but not all countries worldwide).
The EU itself currently earns a rating of “insufficient” from the group (China is ranked “highly insufficient,” while the U.S. and four other nations earned the worst “critically insufficient” grade).
The next several years will determine the future of petrochemical production for decades to come, crucial years when it comes to the fate of the climate, if industry gets its timing right — particularly in the Rust Belt.
“The window to make this all work is not forever,” Charles Schliebs of Stone Pier Capital Advisors told the NEP Northeast U.S.Petrochemical Construction conference in June. “It’s maybe two to five years.”
That means key decisions may be made while Donald Trump remains in office — though state and local regulators will also face important calls over permits and construction planning.
For some living near the center of the planned petrochemical expansion, the problem is readily apparent.
“We’re not going to be able to double down on fossil fuels,” Dixon said, “and comply with the Paris climate agreement.”
Follow the DeSmog investigative series, Fracking for Plastics, and get your questions answered with our Field Guide to the Petrochemical and Plastics Industry