MANILA, Philippines (June 28, 2019) — As the G20 summit opens in Osaka, Japan, a coalition of more than 800 environmental organizations worldwide is challenging the heads of state to show leadership in tackling the plastic pollution crisis by addressing overproduction, rather than focusing on waste. The proposed voluntary marine plastics framework does not address the fundamental cause of plastic pollution: the overproduction of plastic..
“As the second-largest consumer of plastic in the world, Japan should show leadership by reducing consumption and production of plastic, especially single-use plastics,” said Beau Baconguis, Asia Pacific Plastics Campaigner of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and concurrently Asia Pacific coordinator of the global #breakfreefromplastic movement.
Two weeks ago, a meeting of G20 environmental ministers in Japan resulted in a voluntary initiative to share best practices and establish standards for tracking marine plastic waste, but it stopped short of setting clear indicators or a timeline for progress. It is also largely an implementation framework for the “G20 action plan on marine litter” adopted at the G20 Hamburg Summit in Germany in 2017. The 2017 action plan focuses mostly on plastic waste and marine plastics, rather than on accelerating production and consumption, or impacts on land, air, and freshwater ecosystems.
“Plastic pollutes throughout its lifecycle — from oil and gas extraction to production all the way to final disposal. It is not only a marine litter issue. It is more importantly an overproduction issue. The G20 and Japan need to deal with the plastic pollution crisis in a holistic manner,” added Baconguis.
Most recently, Japan has announced setting aside USD 18.6 million to promote waste incineration in Southeast Asian countries. Through public-private partnerships, waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration plants will find their way to Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam.
“WTE Incineration directly undermines waste reduction, reuse and recycling, and incinerating plastics exacerbates climate change, and creates toxic pollution and hazardous ash. If Japan and other G20 governments are serious about resolving the plastic pollution crisis and about responding to the climate emergency, they must stop using this outdated technology and stop pushing it on other countries,” said Sirine Rached, Global Policy Advocate at GAIA.
“There is no solution to the plastic problem or to climate change that allows the industry to continue growing at 4% per year. It is time for the G-20 to rein in the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries starting with broad bans on single-use plastics,” Rached added.
A 2018 UN Environment Programme report identified Japan as the world’s second largest consumer of single-use plastic packaging per person — behind the United States. G-20 nations produce half of the world’s plastic waste. Abe, who chairs the summit, has already given his intentions to prioritize this issue at the G20 summit and through domestic policies in Japan.
According to a recent Greenpeace East Asia report, Japan is also the world’s second largest exporter of plastic waste, behind the United States. fter China stopped accepting plastic waste imports in 2018, several Southeast Asian nations became new targets.
“Japan and the G20 need to get their plastic addiction under control. Instead of pointing the finger at Southeast Asian countries while dumping plastic waste on them, the G20 needs to address its own overproduction and consumption of plastic,” said Neil Tangri, Science and Policy Director for GAIA.
Jed Alegado, Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic
About BFFP – #breakfreefromplastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, over 1,400 non-governmental 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. www.breakfreefromplastic.org.
About GAIA – Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries whose ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration. www.no-burn.org
(2 June 2019 Press release) Worldwide, over 8 million tonnes of plastic waste is dumped into the oceans every year, and beverage plastic bottles are the most commonly found type of waste during beach clean-up activities that serve as a good indicator of marine plastic waste.
The Green Earth has launched the ‘Short-Lived Plastic’ Plastic Bottle Brand Research in July 2018. Since then, 43 beach clean-up activities have been conducted in 25 locations, covering Hong Kong Island, New Territories, and the Outlying Islands. Out of the 11,321 bottles collected in our study, 7,945 bottles were categorized by brands and a total of 287 brands were identified. The group was unable to identify the brands of the remaining 3,376 bottles due to the missing of labels and/or bottle caps.
Based on our research findings, C’estbon, which is owned by the mainland Chinese brand China Resources, accounted for the most bottles collected. This was followed by Swire Coca-Cola series, Vita series, Watsons Water series, and mainland Chinese brand Master Kong respectively.
Among the traditional Chinese labelling brands, Vita ranked the first, followed by Coca-Cola and Watsons Water. These three brands have accounted for 75% of the total bottles collected (3,919 bottles).
Apart from the ranking, The Green Earth has discovered the following main points:
Finding 1. Regarding bottles wrapped with traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese character labels, each accounts for 48% of the total number of bottles found, and the remaining 4% was of other languages, which reflects that the Hong Kong shorelines are greatly affected by marine wastes generated in mainland China and should be addressed.
While mainland China is the country that generates the most marine plastic waste in the world, we should apply four ways at the same time to tackle the issue: 1. To launch the producer responsibility regulation for beverage packaging as soon as possible; 2. Before the implementation of the regulation, the mainland Chinese drink manufacturers such as C’estbon, Master Kong, etc. should set aggressive plastic reduction goals; 3. To improve waste collection and recycling facilities; 4. To improve cooperation, monitoring, and reporting system between Guangdong authorities and the Hong Kong SAR government, so as to prevent plastic wastes and household waste from entering the rivers and the oceans.
Most of the international beverage manufacturers have launched and implemented plastic reduction measures. Local brands such as Swire Coca-Cola, Vita, and Watsons Water have also announced their plastic reduction target that is to recycle 70-90% of their beverage bottles by 2025. We urge the mainland Chinese brands to catch up and do not fall behind the trend.
In Hong Kong, the recycling rate of PET beverage bottles remains low throughout the years, with a recycling rate of only 6.8% in 2017. The Green Earth believes there is an urgent need for the Environmental Protection Department to conclude the consultancy study of the plastic bottle producer responsibility scheme, and to move on to the next step – legislation development.
Finding 2. According to the classification of drink types, non-water drinks such as soft drink, juice, and tea only account for 33% (2,580 bottles), while water, including both mineral and distilled water, accounts for 67% (5,151 bottles).
The Green Earth points out that the number of waste bottled water can be greatly reduced with the quicker introduction of water dispensers to be installed widely in the community and wider use of reusable water bottles by the public. Beverage producers should consider changing the format of sales from selling drinks in single-use plastic bottles to dispensing facilities.
The Green Earth would like to emphasize that an average of 20,000 disposable beverage plastic bottles are sold every second worldwide, with most of the used bottles being dumped at landfills and a very small portion have got properly recycled. We believe the most effective solution is to reduce at source, avoid purchasing single-use beverage plastic bottles, and recycle properly in case of unavoidable purchase.
To address the ocean plastic waste problems, The Green Earth urges:
1. Support ‘Short-Lived Plastic’ Plastic Bottle Brand Research to continuously monitor the plastic packaging industry. Details: http://greenearth-hk.org/plasticwaste/
2. Apart from plastic bottles, we are also expanding our monitoring coverage to plastic packaging, and the result will be released in August;
3. On 8 June ‘World Ocean Day’, we will be conducting beach clean-up and brand research in the Plover Cover Reservoir. Details: https://forms.gle/Zs6JyxofxXNypdBN7
Clean-up survey sites:
Hong Kong Island: Cape D’aguilar, Shek O Tai Tau Chau.
New Territories: Yuen Long -– Ha Pak Nai; Tuen Mun – Lung Kwu Tan; Lai Chi Wo; Crooked Island; Sha Tau Kok – Wu Shek Kok, Tai Po – Sha Lan, Sam Mun Tsai, Yuen Chau Tsai Park; Plover Cover Reservoir; Sai Kung – Pak Sha Chau, Yeung Chau, Chuk Kok, Little Palm Beach, Cham Tau Chau.
Outlying Islands: Lantau Island – Tung Chung River, Tai O, Shui Hau, Tung Ping Chau, Sunshine Island; Lamma Island – Yung Shue Ha Village, Pak Kap Hang; Tung Lung Chau – Kai Yue Tam, Tathong Point.
Special Thanks to:
GoGo Clean Up, Lantau Buffalo Association, Association for Sha Tau Kok Culture and Ecology, Coastal Conservation Hong Kong, NatureSprites, Gaomad Yeah, Trailwatch, Green Sense, Tung Lung Chau, Typhoon Mangkhut aftermath clean up group (Tung Lau Chau), YC Leung, Kitti, Kammy Lai.
The Green Earth – Executive Director Edwin Lau; Director of Environmental Advocacy Hahn Chu; Project Officer Mandy Cheung; 37088380
Plastic Bottle found after Super Typhoon Mangkhut. The metal cap shows it is 30-year old plus.
Coca-cola’s plastic bottle is so abundant among marine garbage. (Photo 1 of 2)
Coca-cola series plastic bottle is so abundent among marine garbage. (Photo 2 of 2)
Chinese Brand C’estbon gets the first place in the survey
Volunteering doing brands survey
Vita series accounted for the most bottles collected
We got a tonne of Vita’s water bottles
Volunteers picking up recognizable bottles for brand survey
Volunteers picking up recognizable bottles for brand survey
The majority we see here goes to C’estbon (Photo 2 of 2)
Sorting out by brands
Got a thousand of bottles in half day at Tung Lung Chau, mindblowing. (Photo Credits: Typhoon Mangkhut aftermath clean up group (Tung Lau Chau)
Got a thousand of bottles in half day at Tung Lung Chau, mindblowing. (Photo Credits: Typhoon Mangkhut aftermath clean up group (Tung Lau Chau)
‘In 2019, plastic production and incineration will add over 850m metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere – equivalent to the emissions from 189 coal-fired power plants.’ Photograph: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters
Every stage of the plastic lifecycle releases harmful carbon emissions into the atmosphere, contributing to global heating.
Plastics are among the most ubiquitous materials in our economy, our lives, and our environment. They are also among the most pervasive and persistent pollutants on Earth.
In recent years, stark images of beaches, waterways and wildlife filled with plastic have spurred demands for action to address plastic pollution. These calls are coupled with growing concern that plastic and its toxic additives pose serious risks to human health at every stage of the plastic lifecycle. Far less attention has been paid to the impacts of this same lifecycle on the Earth’s climate. This is a dangerous oversight.
From catastrophic wildfires in California to searing heatwaves and record drought in India, the scale and growing severity of the climate crisis are undeniable. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that humanity must limit warming below 1.5C or face far greater and potentially irreversible climate chaos. To achieve this, we must cut global emissions 45% by 2030 and reach zero net emissions by 2050.
A recent report by the Center for International Environmental Law and partners shows that plastic’s rapidly rising emissions put these critical goals at risk. In 2019, plastic production and incineration will add over 850m metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere – equivalent to the emissions from 189 coal-fired power plants. By 2050, these emissions could rise to 2.8bn metric tons, equivalent to 615 new coal plants.
Why are these emissions growing so rapidly? Because plastics are made almost entirely from fossil fuels. Natural gas, oil and coal account for 99% of what goes into plastic. Thus, plastic’s climate impacts begin not in the oceans, but at the wellheads and drillpads where plastic is born.
Moreover, refining those raw materials into plastic is among the most energy- and carbon-intensive of all industrial processes. In 2015, just 24 ethylene facilities in the United States emitted as much carbon dioxide as 3.8m passenger vehicles. Globally fracking to produce ethylene produced as many emissions as 45m passenger vehicles.
If growth continues on its present trajectory, plastics could creat 56bn metric tons in greenhouse emissions by 2050
The North American fracking boom is poised to make this situation much worse. Fueled by cheap fracked gas, Exxon, Shell and other petrochemical producers are massively expanding the infrastructure for making plastic. The American Chemistry Council projects that the industry will invest over $200bn in more than 330 new or expanded facilities by 2025. Just one of these facilities, a massive ethane cracker being built by Shell in Pennsylvania, could emit up to 2.25m tons of CO2yearly.
Nor do emissions end once plastic’s useful life is over. While the carbon emissions associated with recycling are minimal, less than 9% of plastic is recycled annually. Effective recycling rates are lower still. As indicated by China’s recent ban on plastic waste imports, much of the plastic waste that has been sent to Asia for recycling has no economic value. It was and always has been just trash. In the face of China’s import ban, communities are increasingly turning to incineration as the way to deal with that trash. This incineration alone could add 4bn metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere by 2050.
If growth continues on its present trajectory, plastic production, use and disposal could create 56bn metric tons in cumulative greenhouse emissions by 2050 – consuming a staggering 13% of the Earth’s entire remaining carbon budget.
The climate impact of plastic that escapes into the environment is harder to quantify, but may be even more significant. Research demonstrates that the 57tn microplastic particles at the ocean’s surface continually release small amounts of greenhouse gases – and will continue doing so indefinitely. The climate impacts of this are difficult to quantify because those surface particles represent only a fraction of 1% of plastic in the ocean. Nor do they include the massive amounts of plastic on beaches, riverbanks and farmlands worldwide that are releasing greenhouse gases even faster.
More troublingly, scientists have found that microplastics are interacting with and often negatively affecting plankton in ocean basins worldwide. These microscopic plants and animals form the foundation of ocean ecosystems and also create the biological carbon pump that makes the oceanic carbon sink function. This raises the currently unquantifiable but deeply troubling prospect that rising plastic pollution could disrupt the Earth’s largest natural carbon sink, further accelerating the climate crisis.
Whether measured by its impacts on the climate, environment, or human health, the rising flood of disposable plastic creates risks humanity can no longer accept.
Just as the roots of the climate and plastic crises are interlinked, so too are their solutions. Simply put, it’s time to break free from plastic. We must end the production of single-use, disposable plastic, stop the development of new oil, gas and petrochemical infrastructure, and accelerate the transition to sustainable, circular economies and zero-waste communities.
Carroll Muffett is the president of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). Article from The Guardian.
MANILA – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should do more to end plastic pollution of the world’s oceans, an environmentalist group said on Sunday.
Member nations of ASEAN on Saturday adopted the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in ASEAN Region, which seeks to “prevent and significantly reduce” marine plastic pollution.
But Jed Alegado, of Break Free from Plastic, said the declaration was not enough.
“We feel that it fell short off what we really want to see there,” Alegado said in an interview with ANC.
He said the group wants to see “ASEAN member states leading the fight against plastic pollution by banning single-use plastics in their home countries.”
Alegado said that in the case of the Philippines, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2001 already laid the legal framework for an environment-friendly way of dealing with garbage.
“The problem is the single-use plastics. Even if you segregate your waste properly, there will always be ones left that are neither recyclable nor compostable. And these are single-use plastics–sachets, packets, toothpaste tubes and those things,” Alegado said.
He also scored developed countries for sending their waste to developing countries like the Philippines, instead of recycling it themselves.
“The recent deluge of plastic waste coming from the rich nations to the PH, Indonesia, and Malaysia is really alarming because it shows that they really can’t process their own waste at their own backyards. And they have the resources to really deal with it,” Alegado said.
The group meanwhile lauded the efforts of local government units that are trying to minimize or ban single-use plastics in their jurisdictions.
ASEAN members Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, along with worst offender China, throw the most plastic waste into oceans, according to a 2015 report co-authored by environmental campaigner Ocean Conservancy.
BANGKOK – Environmental groups called on Tuesday for Southeast Asian countries to ban waste imports from developed countries to help tackle a plastic pollution crisis, as regional leaders prepare to meet this week in Bangkok.
Southeast Asia has seen a staggering spike in imports of plastic and electronic waste from developed countries after the world’s top recycler, China, banned imports, causing millions of tonnes of trash to be diverted to less-regulated countries.
Thailand will from Thursday host four days of meetings for leaders of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to discuss the region’s most pressing issues, including plastic debris in the ocean.
“Greenpeace Southeast Asia demands that ASEAN leaders put this issue on the agenda during their summits this year and make a united declaration to address the region’s plastic waste crisis,” the group said in a statement.
“Declare an immediate ban on all imports of plastic waste,” Greenpeace urged.
It was in the interests of ASEAN, whose meetings are being held under the theme of sustainability this year, to ban waste trading, said a Thai environmental group.
“Welcoming plastics and electronic waste from abroad in the name of development must urgently end,” said Penchom Saetang, director of Ecological Alert and Recovery Thailand (EARTH) Foundation.
Some Southeast Asian countries have in recent months been taking action to stem the flow of trash.
Indonesia was the latest to reject trash imports from Canada, following similar moves by Malaysia and the Philippines.
Thailand does not ban plastic waste imports, but it aims to end them by 2020. It imposes partial bans on electronic scrap.
Greenpeace also urged ASEAN countries to ratify amendments to the 30-year-old Basel Convention, a U.N. treaty on the movement and disposal of hazardous waste, to limit the flow of plastic scrap to developing countries.
“We have to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment … to prevent ASEAN member states from becoming the world’s dumping sites in the future, or actually as it is happening now,” said Tara Buakamsri, Greenpeace Thailand’s country director.
The group also urged Southeast Asian leaders to reduce the production of single-use plastic.
ASEAN will adopt a Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris during the summit, Junever Mahilum-West, a senior Philippine foreign ministry official, told a news conference in Manila earlier on Tuesday.
The leaders of Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, four of the world’s top marine plastic polluters, after China, are attending the ASEAN meeting.
Those five countries account for up to 60 percent of plastic waste leaking into oceans, the environmental group Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment said in a 2015 report.
Whales have been found dead in the region in recent years with large amounts of plastic rubbish in their stomachs.