In November 2018, Greenpeace experts assessed the level of plastic pollution in the Black and Azov Seas. On the beaches 13,000 fragments were found, ranging from tiny pieces of unknown origin to 100 kilogram ship ropes.
The main sources of pollution are tourists, waste from other countries brought by currents, and maritime shipping.
Most of the plastic found is determined to be single-use packaging or goods. In the Black Sea, the share of such plastic is almost 68%, on the Azov Sea – up to 90%. The main pollutant of the latter was bottles, and the Black Sea coast was filled with styrofoam.
“We have now witnessed that plastic pollution is a real problem for the Black and Azov seas. On the hundred-meter sections of the coast, we found from 435 to 3,501 pieces of plastic. Even the borders of the Utrish nature reserve are littered. We found 1,001 plastic pieces in one monitored area and 2,991 pieces in the other. This is mainly one-off goods, packaging and bags that are all trash we can consciously avoid. Today in Russia there is no regulations over plastic pollution of the environment. There are no holistic measures to prevent it. Greenpeace urges the Government of the Russian Federation to develop a national system for monitoring plastic contamination and approve a list of single-use goods, containers and packaging that should be banned step by step. We cannot resolve this issue otherwise,” says Alexander Ivannikov, an expert at the Zero Waste project of Greenpeace Russia.
Interestingly, the more difficult it was for people to have access to an area, the higher its level of plastic contamination was. This may be due to the fact that such areas are less likely to be cleaned, while debris is still washed ashore.
Single-use plastic items pollute the environment, decompose for hundreds of years and harm animals. Sea inhabitants and birds often become its victims, mistaking pieces of plastic for food or getting entangled in them. According to the British government, plastic ends up in stomachs of 31 species of marine mammals and 100 species of seabirds.
On the method
During the expedition, Greenpeace experts used the methodology for monitoring marine debris on the beaches, which was developed by the DeFishGear project. The data collected was one of the reasons for the European Commission to ban certain types of plastic products.
According to the methodology, Greenpeace experts chose hundred-meter areas (polygons): 5 – on the Black Sea coast and 3 – on the Sea of Azov. From the surface of polygons, visually distinguishable fragments of plastic were collected, their number was counted, they were weighed and sorted by purpose / type of product.
Major Plastic Waste Producers Must Get Consent Before Exporting their Toxic Trash to Global South
Also available in Bahasa Indonesia: PBB Memutuskan untuk Mengontrol Pembuangan Sampah Plastik Global
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 10, 2019
Geneva, Switzerland — Today, 187 countries took a major step forward in curbing the plastic waste crisis by adding plastic to the Basel Convention, a treaty that controls the movement of hazardous waste from one country to another. The amendments require exporters to obtain the consent of receiving countries before shipping most contaminated, mixed, or unrecyclable plastic waste, providing an important tool for countries in the Global South to stop the dumping of unwanted plastic waste into their country.
After China banned imports of most plastic waste in 2018, developing countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, have received a huge influx of contaminated and mixed plastic wastes that are difficult or even impossible to recycle. Norway’s proposed amendments to the Basel Convention provides countries the right to refuse unwanted or unmanageable plastic waste.
The decision reflects a growing recognition around the world of the toxic impacts of plastic and the plastic waste trade. The majority of countries expressed their support for the proposal and over one million people globally signed two public petitions from Avaaz and SumOfUs. Yet even amidst this overwhelming support, there were a few vocal outliers who opposed listing plastic under Annex II of the Basel Convention. These included the United States, the largest exporter of plastic waste in the world; the American Chemistry Council, a prominent petrochemical industry lobbying group; and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, a business association largely comprised of waste brokers. As the United States is not a party to the Basel Convention, it will be banned from trading plastic waste with developing countries that are Basel Parties but not part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
David Azoulay, Environmental Health Director, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL): “Today’s decision demonstrates that countries are finally catching up with the urgency and magnitude of the plastic pollution issue and shows what ambitious international leadership looks like. Plastic pollution in general and plastic waste in particular remain a major threat to people and the planet, but we are encouraged by the decision of the Basel Convention as we look to the future bold decisions that will be needed to tackle plastic pollution at its roots, starting with reducing production.”
Contact: David Azoulay, +41 78 75 78 756, firstname.lastname@example.org
Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator, Break Free from Plastic: “This is a crucial first step towards stopping the use of developing countries as a dumping ground for the world’s plastic waste, especially those coming from rich nations. Countries at the receiving end of mixed and unsorted plastic waste from foreign sources now have the right to refuse these problematic shipments, in turn compelling source countries to ensure exports of clean, recyclable plastics only. Recycling will not be enough, however. Ultimately, production of plastics has to be significantly curtailed to effectively resolve the plastic pollution crisis.”
Contact: Von Hernandez, +63 9175263050, vonhernandez (Skype)
Martin Bourque, Executive Director, Ecology Center: “Recycling is supposed to be part of the solution, this legislation will help prevent it from being a source of pollution. False claims by the plastic industry about plastic recycling resulted in a complete disaster for communities and ecosystems around the globe. This legislation raises the bar for plastic recycling which is good for people and the planet, and will help restore consumer confidence that recycling is still the right thing to do.”
Contact: Martin Bourque, email@example.com
Mageswari Sangaralingam, Research Officer, Friends of the Earth Malaysia: “Controls on the plastic waste trade are much needed now to curb dumping of waste in the Global South. The inclusion of prior informed consent is a step towards addressing the issues of the plastic waste trade and pollution crisis. Recycling is not enough, we need to break free from plastic.”
Contact: Mageswari Sangaralingam, +60128782706, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Tadesse Amera, CoChair, International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) (Ethiopia): “Africa knows a lot about waste dumping due to our experience with e-waste. This decision will help prevent the continent from becoming the next target of plastic waste dumping after Asia closes its doors.”
Contact: Tadesse Amera, +251911243030 (phone/whatsapp), email@example.com
Prigi Arisandi, Founder, Ecoton (Indonesia): “We hope these Convention amendments will reduce marine litter — but on the ground in Indonesia we will continue monitoring the waste trade, and pushing our government to properly manage imported plastics. We call on exporting countries to respect their obligation not to dump their rubbish in Global South countries and our government to strictly enforce restrictions and strengthen our custom controls.”
Contact: Prigi Arisandi, +62 8175033042, firstname.lastname@example.org
Yuyun Ismawati, Co-founder, BaliFokus/Nexus3 Foundation: “This amendment could be a game changer and force every country to set a higher standard of responsible plastic waste management. Toxic plastics disposed by rich communities in other countries will no longer become the burden of poor communities.”
Contact: Yuyun Ismawati, +447583768707, email@example.com
Sirine Rached, Global Policy Advocate, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA): “It’s only fair that countries should have the right to refuse plastic pollution shipped to their borders. China had raised the ambition, arguing for countries to have the right to refuse virtually all plastic waste imports, but the final result was a compromise. Since the onslaught of plastic dumping will continue for a year until the measures come into effect, GAIA calls on countries to protect themselves from global plastic waste dumping by banning dirty plastic imports in national law. Countries can tackle the plastic pollution problem while protecting the climate, by focusing on reducing plastics and shifting to Zero Waste systems free from dirty technologies like incineration or plastic-to-fuel.”
Contact: Sirine Rached, +33 6 76 90 02 80, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Puckett, Executive Director, Basel Action Network (BAN): “Today we have taken a major first step to stem the tide of plastic waste now flowing from the rich developed countries to developing countries in Africa and Asia, all in the name of “recycling,” but causing massive and harmful pollution, both on land and in the sea. A true circular economy was never meant to circulate pollution around the globe. It can only be achieved by eliminating negative externalities and not just pushing them off to developing countries.”
Contact: Jim Puckett, email@example.com
Tim Grabiel, Senior Lawyer, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA): “The Basel amendments are a critical pillar of an emerging global architecture to address plastic pollution. Other international bodies must now do their part, including ambitious measures under the IMO and ultimately a new legally binding UN treaty. The EU was a vocal and active supporter of the Basel amendments, proposing to increase ambition so that only the cleanest of clean plastic waste would not be subject to notification. The EU is not only leading by example but taking its Plastics Strategy to the international level.”
Contact: Tim Grabiel, +33 6 32 76 77 04, firstname.lastname@example.org
04/05/19, 1330, GENEVA
Contact: Von Hernandez #breakfreefromplastic Global Coordinator, email@example.com, +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
- #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.
- More than 600,000 people have signed petitions supporting the Norwegian Amendment across two petitions on the Avaaz and SumofUs websites.