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04/05/19, 1330, GENEVA

Contact: Von Hernandez #breakfreefromplastic Global Coordinator, von@breakfreefromplastic.org, +63 917 526 3050

Today, at 14th Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (COP14), discussions began on the amendment proposed by Norway and supported by more than 600,000 people around the world which would restrict the international trade of plastic waste.

If passed, this amendment would require exporting countries to get the prior informed consent of receiving countries—enabling developing countries to stop huge amounts of unmanageable waste arriving on their shores. The vast human impact of this waste was recently exposed in GAIA’s (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives) latest report ‘Discarded: Communities on the Frontlines of the Global Plastic Pollution Crisis’

This amendment was strongly supported by the civil society movement including members of the #breakfreefromplastic movement such as IPEN, BAN, GAIA, Friends of the Earth, CIEL, EIA, and other groups including Avaaz and SumOfUs.

In a speech addressing the delegates, Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator for the #breakfreefromplastic movement, highlighted the injustice of the waste dumping in the recipient countries. “If you have seen what we have seen on the ground in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines—it would be a stretch to even refer to these local processing operations as “recycling.” It is waste dumping for all intents and purposes.”

The presentation of the petition of more than 700,000 people supporting the Norway amendment to the President of the Basel Convention by Mageswari Sangaralingam, Prigi Arisandi and Von Hernandez.

People gathered inside the convention calling for delegates to support the Norwegian Amendment, as the petition totalling more than 600,000 people was presented to the presidency of the Convention.

Mageswari Sangaralingam, speaking for the Consumers’ Association of Penang and for Friends of the Earth, Malaysia said: “While the Malaysian government has already issued restrictions on plastic waste imports, the pollution, disease, and economic burden of cleaning up will remain in our communities for decades. The rich countries cannot continue polluting Asia. They have to manage their own waste at home.”

Bert Wander, Campaign Director at Avaaz said: “It’s unbelievable that richer countries are dumping millions of tonnes of plastic waste on countries that don’t even have capacity to process it. Now negotiators must decide—turn a blind eye to the devastation we are causing the planet and choke off more coastlines and communities, or face this head-on and agree to a deal that will finally help end this outrageous plastic crisis.”

Eoin Dubsky, campaigner at SumOfUs said: “Fake plastic waste recycling stops here. In the past two decades, businesses in the EU, US, Japan, Mexico, and Canada have been exporting millions of tonnes of plastic waste overseas. That’s how European and North American plastic ends up choking the rivers and coasts of countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand.”

Prigi Arisandi, Indonesian Environmental Activist, Goldman Prize winner, and founder of the Indonesian NGO, Ecoton said: We refuse to be bullied by rich countries any longer. We cannot be burdened by waste we did not produce in the first place. We demand that the rich countries clean up their act and take their waste back. We also call on the leaders gathered here today to stop allowing this injustice to continue. We can stop this merely by saying “enough!” and meaning it.

Picture of the demonstration in support of the Norway Amendment at the Basel Convention

ENDS

NOTES

  1. #breakfreefromplastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, nearly 1,500 organizations from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and to push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. These organizations share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, which guide their work at the community level and represent a global, unified vision. Sign up at www.breakfreefromplastic.org.
  2. More than 600,000 people have signed petitions supporting the Norwegian Amendment across two petitions on the Avaaz and SumofUs websites.
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