Green groups question Government’s sinister moves to lift the ban on incineration

Green groups question Government’s sinister moves to lift the ban on incineration

(Quezon City, Philippines, December 16, 2019)—Environment groups today lambasted the Philippine government’s moves to lift the anti-incineration provisions of the Clean Air Act and Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. On November 13, the bills amending these laws  passed at the committee level in Congress to make way for thermal waste-to-energy facilities, which are essentially still incinerators.  Also recently, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued guidelines for the establishment and operation of waste-to-energy facilities, in violation of the country’s incineration ban.

“The Philippine Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act have been praised among environmental circles worldwide for their zero waste vision as well as the anti-incineration provisions. It is unfortunate that it is our government bodies who are mandated to protect the environment and the Filipino people from harm who are the purveyors of these dirty technologies,”  said Froilan Grate, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Philippines Executive Director. “Although there is a complete ban on incineration, it has not deterred the DENR, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to push for waste incinerators in the guise of waste-to-energy projects,” Grate added.  Currently, there are WtE incinerator proposals in Quezon City, Davao, Cebu, Pampanga, and other provinces in the country, most of them set to be operational by 2020.

Incinerators are facilities used to burn waste using high temperature releasing various types of toxic emissions including lead, mercury, dioxins and furans, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, acidic gases (i.e., SOx, HCl), heavy metals (cadmium, lead, mercury, chromium, arsenic, and beryllium), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and chlorinated and brominated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the process.  Direct exposure to such toxins risks the health of facility workers and residents in nearby communities while indirect exposure, through the food chain, poses global risks. (1)

Toxic emissions, high costs, and bad history

Contrary to the proposal’s emphasis that there is no high operational costs and environmental risks involved with waste incineration, Merci Ferrer of WOW Dumaguete countered, “what was not mentioned in the bill is that other than the toxic emissions that come from burning waste, there is still the fly ash and bottom ash (FABA) that needs to be handled carefully as toxic waste after burning.  The Philippines currently does not have the capacity to this.”

Learning from the experiences of other communities who ended up in debt when they failed to provide the volume of waste for an incinerator to run which is under the “put or pay” contract with incinerator industries, “waste incineration will not solve the country’s waste problem.  It will put the country in debt from the private contractors, and worst, open the door to imported waste.  In short, we will open our doors to toxic incinerator facilities and the toxic emissions that comes from its use while they (industry) enjoys tax holidays.  This is the height of hypocrisy for the government to claim they are solving solid waste problems when they are in fact opening the country to waste importation,” said Beau Baconguis, Asia Coordinator for Break Free From Plastic (BFFP).

The bill will grant waste treatment facilities 7 year tax holiday and 10 year tax and duty exemption on imported capital equipment and vehicles.

“It seems that our leaders have already forgotten the 26 defunct medical waste incinerators that the Philippine and Austrian Governments have entered into in the 90s,” said Ferrer.  The 26 medical waste incinerators were decommissioned after it failed to pass emission levels set by the supplier, the Dept. of Health (DoH), and the World Health Organization (WHO).  “The Philippines paid US$2 million every year for the incinerators until 2014 even when they were decommissioned as early as 2003 ,” Ferrer added.



Sonia G. Astudillo, Communications Officer, GAIA-AP, +63 917 5969286,

Jed Alegado, Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic, +63 917 6070248,

Note: The 26 medical waste incinerators were hosted in Albay Provincial Hospital (now Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital), Baguio General Hospital, Batangas Regional Hospital, Bicol Regional Hospital, Cagayan Valley Regional Hospital, Davao Medical Center, Davao Regional Hospital, Dr Paulino Garcia Memorial Hospital, East Avenue Medical Center, Ilocos Regional Hospital (now Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center), Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital in Pampanga, Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center in Ilocos, Northern Mindanao Medical Center, Philippine Orthopedic Hospital, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Teofilo Sison Memorial Medical Center (now Region I Medical Center) in Pangasinan, Vicente Sotto Sr. Memorial Medical Center in Cebu and Western Visayas Medical Center

To date, the Philippines remains the only country in the world that has a total incineration ban.

BFFP U.S. shares the biggest victories of 2019!

BFFP U.S. shares the biggest victories of 2019!

Get to know Break Free From Plastic U.S.! Our groups are campaigning for systems change all across the plastic pollution lifecycle, from extraction to dumping & burning and everything in between. Hear from our members directly on the biggest victories from 2019!
– Shilpi Chhotray, Senior Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic US/Global


Diane Wilson, San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper, Seadrift, Texas:
“In 2016 a small ragtag team of Waterkeeper volunteers began collecting evidence on Lavaca Bay of illegally discharged pellets and powder from Formosa Plastics, a 2500 acre plastic giant located in Point Comfort, Texas. Four years later the small group won a record-breaking lawsuit and settlement of $50 Million with all monies going to local environmental projects and the promise of zero discharge of all plastic pollution from the ‘serial offender’ Formosa Plastics.”


Diane Wilson collecting plastic pellets for research.


Young Grguras, Post-landfill Action Network, Philadelphia:
“This year PLAN (The Post-Landfill Action Network) brought on its first staff member dedicated fully to plastic free schools and had two college campuses sign onto our Campus Pledge: The College of the Atlantic and Eckerd College. We are so excited that these schools have made commitments, and are eager to organize alongside the forty-plus colleges also working on this campaign. In the new year, we are also looking forward to our Beyond Waste Summits, and working on our solidarity for the international plastic free campus movement.”


Diego Jimenez, Lonely Whale, Seattle, Washington:
“Thanks to the incredible support of our collaborators, Lonely Whale launched Question How You Hydrate, a new campaign that is waking the world up to the problem of our reliance on single-use plastic water bottles and empowering consumers to choose and champion more sustainable alternatives. Sparking a conversation about single-use plastic water bottles and their role in the global plastic pollution crisis, the campaign is driving action through strategic collaborations with NGOs, celebrities and social media influencers in addition to global institutions. Through these strategic collaborations, Question How You Hydrate has already reached more than 50 countries, empowered legislators to publicly call for action, introduced an alternative to single-use plastic water bottles, encouraged corporate campuses to stop using single-use plastic water bottles in their offices and launched the Museum of Plastic. The Lonely Whale team is excited for continued collaboration across all global BFFP members to inspire further actions that support a mass culture shift away from single-use plastics.”


Claire Arkin, GAIA, Berkeley, California:
“Thanks to the incredible persistence of our members in Southeast Asia and BFFP partners in the United States and around the world, we were able to shine a light on how the global plastic waste trade enables wealthy nations like the U.S. to dump their plastic problem onto other countries, primarily in the Global South. GAIA released an investigative report uncovering how this problem was impacting communities on the ground, and soon after a group of BFFP members descended upon the UN meeting demanding greater transparency and accountability for the global plastic waste trade. The ratification of the Norway Amendment— a step forward in this fight to stop this global injustice–is proof that BFFP members are a powerful force when we unite across borders.”


Photo of GAIA members working to ratify the Norway Amendment!


Emily DiFrisco, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Chicago, Illinois:
“Plastic Pollution Coalition organized a digital campaign to pressure to reduce their plastic footprint on the earth. Thousands of people and organizations Tweeted at and more than 5,300 people signed the petition, illustrating the power of organizations joining forces. Our voices are louder together. We look forward to working together with BFFP members to shift corporate practices in the year ahead.” 


Eve Fox, Beyond Plastics, Bennington, Vermont:
“Beyond Plastics has had a busy and exciting first year! Highlights include helping to pass the nation’s most far-reaching (so far) single-use plastic pollution law in the state of Vermont – the final was very similar to our model Plastics Trifecta legislation that bans single-use straws, polystyrene foam and bags in one fell swoop. Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed it into law in mid-June. We also managed to pass the Plastics Trifecta (officially known as the Plastic-Free Hudson River Act in the city of Troy, New York in September. We are also proud to be leading the charge in opposing the misnamed “Save Our Seas Act 2.0” in Congress by forming a coalition of over 100 organizations, delivering a sign-on letter to Senators signed by these groups, generating grassroots activist phone calls and emails to Senate offices, highlighting the bill’s shortcomings with members of the media, and working directly with Senate legislative staffers to educate them about the realities of plastic pollution and the limitations and risks inherent in this piece of legislation. We continue to call for a meaningful bill that will effectively reduce plastic pollution rather than industry-endorsed greenwash.”


Sam Pearse, The Story of Stuff Project, Berkeley, California:
“After the movement’s success in passing the EU’s groundbreaking Plastics Directive in late 2017, The Story of Stuff Project worked with partners in California to bring ambitious legislation to the US — raising the bar to meet the true scale of the plastics crisis. The level of support across the state to pass this legislation has been such that our movement was within earshot of passing the Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act just nine months later. Thanks to the unprecedented efforts of groups across the state, we now have an opportunity to deliver the landmark legislation in early 2020.”


Break Free From Plastic members in Sacramento, California


Mike Schade, Mind the Store Campaign Director, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, Brooklyn, New York:
The Mind the Store campaign challenges the largest retailers to eliminate toxic chemicals in products and packaging and develop comprehensive safer chemical policies. To protect families, communities, and workers, we are working to transform the marketplace and drive a competitive race to the top. Over the past year, in response to the campaign, a growing universe of retailers have launched policies to reduce and eliminate toxic chemicals in plastics and other consumer products. For example, for the first time ever, major retail grocers and restaurants are focused on eliminating classes of toxic chemicals, such as per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), ortho-phthalates and bisphenols from food packaging materials, which have been found to be a source of exposure to harmful contaminants. A number of retailers launched safer chemicals policies including Ahold Delhaize, Lowe’s, Sephora, and Staples, targeting harmful chemicals for action in plastics and other products.”


Jacqueline Omania, 5th-grade teacher and Oxford Heirs to Our Oceans Chapter Leader, Berkeley, California:
“Oxford Heirs to Our Oceans, a student group of elementary school activists, was successful in helping to pass Berkeley’s Disposable Free Dining Ordinance in January 2019. These passionate students have been compared to the local versions of Greta Thunberg as their speeches expose the truth behind plastic “recycling” and the urgency to move to reusables for the sake of our precious environment.  Their experiences reaching near-zero waste in their classroom remind us that simple small actions do matter. Their efforts garnered the Oxford Heirs the Sierra Club’s Emerging Voices Award; their acceptance speeches focused on the need to address plastic pollution now for their generation and those to come. The Heirs are currently on the streets documenting the rollout of the new law by interviewing customers and business owners regarding the Vessel reusable cup program.”

“I don’t just believe that this ordinance was the right choice, but I know that it will change the way we live now and in the future. This law could lead to California to become a Zero Waste state. This could be the beginning of saying  Goodbye to plastic FOREVER.” – Fiona Groth Reidy, age 11, Berkeley, California.


Student activists of Oxford Heirs to Our Oceans


Lauren, UPSTREAM Communications & Outreach Coordinator, Portland, Maine:
“2019 has been a historic year for local governments to #breakfreefromplastic and take the trash out of our dining experience, thanks to UPSTREAM’s leadership in building Indisposable Communities! Kicking off the year with the unanimously passed Disposable-Free Berkeley ordinance in CA, UPSTREAM has since launched the National Reuse Network to spark innovative solutions across the SF Bay region, Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, Boston and communities in between and beyond. Learn more about the momentous success in Berkeley as featured on the Indisposable Podcast, and check out how this model ordinance helps solve single-use plastic pollution on UPSTREAM’s video here!


Katie Allen, Executive Director, Algalita Marine Research and Education, Long Beach, California:
Algalita turned 25 this year!  We celebrated with a special expedition to the North Pacific gyre in partnership with the Korean Broadcasting System, who produced a plastic pollution documentary that was broadcasted to millions of households across South Korea.  Also in 2019, we hosted our 9th annual International Youth Summit on Plastic Pollution – an event that supported 24 action campaigns across eight countries.  We directly trained 623 educators on how to integrate plastic pollution curriculum into their classrooms and helped lead phase one of a district-wide transition to zero waste schools in Long Beach, CA.  Our zero waste retail outpost, BYO at Algalita, reached over 18,000 product refills in 2019!”


Marie Mekosh, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Washington, DC:
“This year, CIEL celebrated the power of what our movement can achieve when we combine our strengths and work together. With partners working across every stage of the plastic lifecycle, we released two groundbreaking reports that exposed how plastic is a human health crisis hiding in plain sight and how plastic production and disposal threatens our global climate. As countries negotiate global solutions to the plastic crisis, CIEL has worked to ensure that they consider and address plastic’s impacts at every stage of its lifecycle, including through a petition supported by one million people. And our collective efforts have paid off: In May, 187 countries took a major step forward to control plastic waste dumping under the Basel Convention — a critical victory for communities around the globe working to Break Free From Plastic.”


CIEL staff working to control plastic waste dumping at the Basel Convention


Baani Behniwal, Policy Associate, Californians Against Waste, Sacramento, California:
“Plastic pollution was a hot topic in the California Legislature in 2019, with the introduction and near passage of SB 54/AB 1080 – The California Circular Economy and Pollution Reduction Act. These identical bills, aimed at reducing the amount of waste generated from single-use packaging and foodware, made it almost all the way through the legislative process thanks to an unprecedented amount of support from across the environmental community, local governments, businesses, labor unions, and more. With these bills coming up for a final vote at the beginning of the year, as well as a ballot measure in the works for the fall, 2020 is bound to be a monumental year for tackling the plastic crisis in California.”


Marina Ivlev, Director of Communications, 5 Gyres, Los Angeles, California:
“5 Gyres turned 10 in 2019 and celebrated the year with the following projects: TrashBlitz mobilized 25 partner organizations and over 600 Angelenos to collect data across Los Angeles. With our brand new web-based app, we collected robust data on waste type, material, and brand. We found that food and beverage packaging dominated, which confirms our findings from our BAN List 2.0 research! In 2019 our Science Programs Director, Carolynn Box saw the results of her work on a three-year study that found over 7 trillion pieces of microplastics enter the San Francisco Bay each year! 2020 will be an exceptional year with our ambassadors getting a chance to build with one another at the first-ever Ambassador Summit and TrashBlitz expanding to three new cities; Portland, Denver, and Brooklyn!”

Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more from our members in 2020! 


New Program to Disclose Plastic Pellet Spills ‘Falls Short’

New Program to Disclose Plastic Pellet Spills ‘Falls Short’


MEDIA CONTACT: Stefanie Spear,, 216-387-1609

BERKELEY, CA—DEC. 13, 2019—The American Chemistry Council and Plastics Industry Association announced Thursday a new program to help manage and prevent the accidental release of plastic pellets into the environment. The program requires companies to report unrecovered releases greater than 0.5 liters or 0.5 kilograms. Reported releases will then be aggregated and publicly reported annually.

Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president of As You Sow, had this to say about the new program:

“Some transparency is better than no disclosure which has been the policy since Operation Clean Sweep’s founding in 1991. However, this policy falls short of the individual company disclosure needed for corporate accountability for this growing threat to oceans and already agreed to by ExxonMobil ChemicalChevronPhillips Chemical and Dow, due to our efforts. The recent $50 million settlement by Formosa Plastics for pellet spills demonstrates the financial risks to companies and their investors from poor handling practices and the need for individual corporate accountability. We will continue to press individual companies on disclosure and have planned shareholder proposals with more companies for 2020.”

Last year, As You Sow engaged three major petrochemical companies, each of which agreed to disclose pellet spills. Pellet spills are believed to be the second largest source of microplastic pollution in the ocean.

For more information on As You Sow’s work on plastic pellets, click here. To learn more about As You Sow’s Plastic Solutions Investor Alliance, click here.

Long Awaited Global Ban on Exporting Hazardous Waste to Developing Countries Becomes Law Today

Long Awaited Global Ban on Exporting Hazardous Waste to Developing Countries Becomes Law Today

Boy standing on the market dumpsite, full of unrepairable electronic waste imported from Europe and North America for “reuse” in Lagos, Nigeria. Copyright BAN.


Electronics and Shipping Industry Called “Shameful”  in Seeking Exemptions


Seattle, WA, USA. 5 December 2019. The Basel Ban Amendment, adopted by the Parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous and Their Disposal in 1995, today becomes international law. This amendment, now ratified by 98 countries, and most recently, by Costa Rica, prohibits the export of hazardous wastes from member states of the European Union, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and Liechtenstein to all other countries. This agreement today becomes a new Article (4a) of the Basel Convention.


The many countries and organizations, including Greenpeace and the Basel Action Network (BAN), that helped create the Basel Ban Amendment can celebrate their persistence. In view of the continuing export of unwanted electronic wastes, plastic wastes and old ships from North American and European countries to highly-polluting operations in Asia and Africa, the ban is seen as relevant today as it was 30 years ago when ships loaded with barrels of toxic waste left their deadly cargo on the beaches of African and Latin American countries.


The Ban Amendment is the world’s foremost legal landmark for global environmental justice. It boldly legislates against a free-trade in environmental costs and harm,” said Jim Puckett, who has worked for 30 years to achieve and implement the ban, and now directs the Basel Action Network (BAN) from Seattle.


Despite the achievement of the Ban Amendment, Puckett warns that powerful industries – currently, the electronics and shipping industries – who have failed to overturn the Ban itself, are now trying to change the definition of that to which it applies. They do so in order to exempt their products (electronic waste and old ships) from the legal restraints imposed by the Convention and the Ban.


Shamefully, electronics manufacturers like HP, Dell and Apple are lobbying for the Basel Convention to call non-functional electronics ‘non-waste’ and thus not subject to the Basel Ban if somebody simply declares these wastes as possibly repairable,” said BAN’s Puckett. “Likewise, the shipping industry has run screaming from their Basel responsibilities for old obsolete ships to create their own Hong Kong Convention, designed specifically to perpetuate the dumping of these toxic ships on South Asian beaches.



Toxic ships exported, and run up on the beaches of Bangladesh for primitive waste management, continue to violate the Basel Ban Amendment to this day. Copyright Greenpeace.

Further, noticeably absent from the list of countries having ratified the ban is the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, India, Brazil, and Mexico. The United States, in fact, produces the most waste per-capita, but has failed to even ratify the basic Basel Convention while actively opposing the Ban Amendment. “There can be no excuse for any country to use poorer countries as convenient dumping grounds for their waste, and it is especially ugly to do this in the name of recycling or the circular economy,” said Puckett. “With the Ban Amendment now international law, we hope and urge that all countries that have failed to ratify it will reconsider what it means to be global leaders in the age of globalization.
For more information refer to

The Guide to the Ban Amendment.

For more information:
Jim Puckett, Executive Director Basel Action Network
phone: +1 (206) 652 – 5555 

About Basel Action Network (BAN)
Founded in 1997, Basel Action Network is a 501(c)3 charitable organization of the United States, based in Seattle, WA. BAN is the world’s only organization focused on confronting the global environmental justice and economic inefficiency of toxic trade and its devastating impacts. Today, BAN serves as the information clearinghouse on the subject of waste trade for journalists, academics, and the general public. Through its investigations, BAN uncovered the tragedy of hazardous electronic waste dumping in developing countries.


The Honolulu City Council today passed Bill 40, which will implement the strictest ban on single use plastic utensils, straws and polystyrene foam containers in the State of Hawai‘i.

The latest draft of Bill 40, by Councilmembers Joey Manahan and Tommy Waters, evolved after many meetings, both public and private, and many hours of written and oral testimony.

Bill 40 was introduced back in July by Councilmember Manahan after discussing this issue for many years. He felt he had to finally take action to protect health, life and property and preserve the order and security of the City and its inhabitants.

Councilmember Manahan issued this statement:

“In all my years of dealing with the plastic issue, over a decade now, I’ve never seen a more fair process to both proponents and opponents. While there’s still a huge divide between the two groups, we listened to all sides when crafting Bill 40. I appreciate the wave of support from the proponents including those in the food industry, who may have not supported the bill, but cared enough to provide their input. The result is evident in the legislation we passed today. Most of all, I want to thank the youth leaders, our keiki, who really were a source of inspiration to me, my true north, my guiding star, my hoku‘lea.”

Councilmember Waters issued this statement:

“At a fundamental level, this is about protecting our Hawai‘i nei. We know that plastic pollutes our parks and beaches, we know that it ends up in our food and bodies, and we know that it will never ever go away. We owe it to our keiki who have mobilized in the thousands, yes thousands, in support of Bill 40. Of course, we owe so much to Councilmember Manahan, who not only introduced Bill 40, but has been working in this area for over a decade.

I also want to mahalo Chair Emeritus Ron Menor and Councilmembers Brandon Elefante and Kym Pine for previously introducing various bills that attempted to address components of what Bill 40 stands for today. Both the Honolulu Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency and the Office of Council Services provided their expertise to help move Bill 40 through Committee. I want to thank the many community organizations that have spurred this conversation, including Surfrider Foundation – Oahu Chapter Zero Waste Oahu B.E.A.C.H. Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii

I also want to thank the many small businesses that led the way and voiced support for this measure and mahalo those in the industry that worked with us to make Bill 40 a measure that won’t harm local businesses. I especially want to mahalo the many youth that came out to take a stand for their future – including the dozens of students from Hahaione Elementary School and Dyson Che (Project OCEAN Hawaii) who has really proven to be a leader. They really are the reason we are doing this.”

Thousands submitted testimony and testified since the bill was first introduced. Students of all ages and from all over Oahu have rallied behind this legislation, testified in strong support, pleaded with the Council to think of them, be brave and show society that we have the will and ability to adapt.

For more information on this bill and the Honolulu City Council, please go to the following web sites: or


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