TODAY: Activists Deliver Nearly 70,000 Petition Signatures to President of EU Council Köstinger, Urging EU to Pass Ambitious EU Plastics Directive

TODAY: Activists Deliver Nearly 70,000 Petition Signatures to President of EU Council Köstinger, Urging EU to Pass Ambitious EU Plastics Directive

SumOfUs, Global2000 and #aufstehn demand EU plastics directive not be weakened at the last moment

Vienna, 5 Dezember 2018 – Today, Global consumer group SumOfUs, environmental organisation Global 2000 and the activist group #aufstehn delivered a petition with nearly 70,000 signatures to Elisabeth Köstinger, President of the EU Council, asking her to ensure that the EU Plastics Directive is passed in order to reduce single-use plastics and makes corporations pay for the plastic waste they are responsible for.

View the petition here: https://actions.sumofus.org/a/eu-plastikgesetz

The EU Plastics Directive aims at drastically reducing pollution from single-use plastics in the oceans and the environment. Important details of the directive are still discussed, namely reduction goals and quotas, as well as how businesses will be held accountable and have to pay for the plastic waste they produce.

“We need to make sure that this ambitious plastics directive is not weakened at the last moment because of corporate lobbying,” said Eoin Dubsky, Campaign Manager for SumOfUs.

“We are urging Secretary Köstinger to follow through on fighting plastic waste and use the next two years,” added Lisa Kernegger of Global 2000. “In order to make sure that happens, we need  to make sure that the EU has a strong plastics directive without weak compromises for wealthy corporations. Any implementation of this directive can only be as good as the policies within it . This is true for Austria, and of course for the rest of Europe.”.

“We’ve fought hard for a strict plastics directive over for the last several few months. Köstinger is the Austrian environmental secretary, and now it’s her chance to make sure this law won’t be watered down”, said Johanna Morandell of #aufstehn.

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EU Parliament and Commission firm on cutting plastic pollution, governments must follow

EU Parliament and Commission firm on cutting plastic pollution, governments must follow

Producer responsibility requirements must be stronger, campaigners warn

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brussels, 26/11/2018

“The fight against plastic pollution is one that we can win. The EU plastics laws initiated by the Commission and endorsed by the Parliament are a first step towards a future where plastic doesn’t poison us. If we commit to this together, nobody loses, everybody wins“, said European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans at a press conference today. “The industry is clearly now focusing its energy on the EU Council. It’s up to the Austrian presidency to resist, and maintain the level of ambition initiated by the Commission, and reinforced by Parliament. This is the perfect slot in our history to impulse the virtuous change demanded by citizens. Disappointing them would be tragic”, added Frédérique Ries, who represents the European Parliament in the negotiations on the single-use plastics law.

Mr Timmermans and Ms Ries were speaking beside a three-metre tall dragon spewing single-use plastic litter collected in beach clean-ups, which will stay in front of the Council till Wednesday.

“The Commission and Parliament plan would deal a significant first blow to the monster of plastic pollution, but this plan is at risk. Consumption of throwaway plastic needs to be cut drastically, and the companies making money on the back of this pollution must also be held responsible. If governments don’t ensure the polluter pays, they side with the dragon” said Delphine Lévi Alvarès, European Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic [1].

Campaigners warned that national governments risk weakening ambitious extended producer responsibility (EPR), whereby producers would cover costs for clean-up of litter, for management of plastic waste [2], as well as for awareness raising. Notably, countries may attempt to delay EPR implementation by four years, and exempt waste management costs for some items including the most littered plastic item in Europe: tobacco filters.

“We are at a turning point. Member States must break with short-termism, by holding producers accountable and supporting ambitious prevention and collection measures for fishing gear as well as single-use plastics. EU institutions have the unique chance to spearhead global action on swift and effective solutions to curb plastic pollution.” said Frédérique Mongodin, Seas At Risk senior marine litter policy officer, on behalf of Rethink Plastic. [3]

On November 28, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council are meeting for a second round of negotiations on single-use plastics laws. The third and last negotiation round is to take place on December 18.

ENDS

***
NOTES:

[1] Break Free From Plastic published in October the results of its global brand audits which identify top plastic polluters: https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/globalbrandauditreport2018/

[2] Including putting relevant waste collection infrastructure in place and collecting, transporting and treating this waste.

[3] The European Parliament voted last month in favour of modulated financial contributions to promote eco-design as well as specific 50% collection and 15% recycling targets for fishing gear.

***
Press contacts:

Roberta Arbinolo, Communications Coordinator, Rethink Plastic
roberta@rethinkplasticalliance.eu +32 491 14 31 97

Matt Franklin, Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic
matt@breakfreefromplastic.org / +44 79 23 37 38 31

Frédérique Mongodin, Senior Marine Litter Policy Officer at Seas at Risk
fmongodin@seas-at-risk.org +32 2 893 09 67

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European Parliament takes historic stand against single-use plastic pollution

European Parliament takes historic stand against single-use plastic pollution

National governments must follow suit, say campaigners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Strasbourg, 24/10/2018

The European Parliament has leapt forward to protect people and the environment from plastic pollution, and national governments must now show the same ambition, according to the Rethink Plastic alliance.

An overwhelming majority in the European Parliament voted today to strengthen the European Commission’s plan to cut pollution from single-use plastic items. [1] The Parliament voted to ban some of the most problematic throwaway products, such as expanded polystyrene food containers, and to ensure producers are held accountable for the costs of single-use plastic pollution. For fishing gear, one of the largest contributors to marine litter, harmonised standards will be developed and minimum collection and recycling targets will be set at the EU level. [2]

“The European Parliament has made history by voting to reduce single-use plastics and slash plastic pollution in our rivers and ocean” said Justine Maillot, EU Affairs Project Officer at Surfrider Foundation Europe on behalf of Rethink Plastic. “Citizens across Europe want to see an end to plastic pollution. It’s now up to national governments to keep the ambition high, and resist corporate pressure to continue a throwaway culture.”

However, campaigners are disappointed that the full Parliament did not adopt a ban on very light-weight single-use plastic bags supported by the Environment committee.

A leaked letter recently exposed how major plastic polluters such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Danone are lobbying national environment ministers to water down the directive. [3]

Representatives of EU national governments are expected to meet later this month to agree on their joint position, and the three-way negotiations between governments, the European Parliament, and the European Commission could then start as soon as early November.

ENDS

NOTES:

[1] European Commission steps forward to cut on single-use plastics – but it’s just the beginning, Rethink Plastic alliance

[2] The measures adopted include:

  • A EU-wide ban of single-use plastic cotton buds, straws, plates and cutlery (with exemptions until 2023), beverage stirrers, balloon sticks, oxo-degradable plastics and expanded polystyrene food containers and cups
  • An obligation for EU countries to adopt measures to achieve a 25% reduction of the consumption of food containers and cups for beverages
  • An obligation for EU countries to reduce post-consumption waste from tobacco product filters containing plastic by 50 % by 2025 and 80 % by 2030,
  • Extended Producer Responsibilty (EPR) schemes that include the cost of clean up and awareness raising measures
  • Harmonised standards and an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for fishing gear, as well as a 50% collection target and a 15% recycling target for fishing gear by 2025
  • An obligation to separately collect 90% of beverage containers and ensure they are produced from 35% recycled content by 2025
  • An obligation to prevent the use of hazardous chemicals in the composition of sanitary items
  • An obligation to label products to inform consumers about the presence of chemicals of concern in certain single-use plastic products

These measures apply to all single-use plastics listed in the Annexes including bio-based and biodegradable plastics.

[3] Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nestle attempt to water down new plastics laws, leaked letter reveals, The IndependentDrinks giants rail against EU bottle cap plan, Euractiv

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Plastic producers could market single-use items as reusable to dodge EU ban

Plastic producers could market single-use items as reusable to dodge EU ban

European Parliament must close loopholes, say campaigners.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brussels, 10/10/2018

Producers could simply market items like throwaway plastic cups as reusable, under changes to a draft EU laws on single-use plastics tabled today in the European Parliament, the Rethink Plastic alliance of NGOs has warned.

The European Parliament’s environment committee voted on a proposal that would introduce new rules on plastics including bans on certain single-use plastic products responsible for marine pollution, and require European governments to set reduction targets for others.

Campaigners are concerned that the committee’s proposed definition of ‘single-use’ plastic items is too narrow, and could lead to producers easily avoiding bans, and would allow them to ignore reduction targets and other measures to reduce plastic pollution. [1]

Speaking on behalf of the Rethink Plastic alliance, Greenpeace EU chemicals policy director Kevin Stairs​ said: “This loophole is a serious oversight by the Parliament and goes against common sense. Everyone knows a throwaway plastic cup or straw when they see one – companies simply marketing them as reusable won’t stop pollution of our rivers and oceans. A turtle choked on relabelled plastic is still a dead turtle.”

The environment committee added very lightweight plastic bags, polystyrene food and drink containers, and products made of ‘oxo-degradable’ plastic [2] to the list of banned items originally proposed by the European Commission. The proposed rules would also require plastic bottles to be made with 35% recycled plastic and introduce collection and recycling targets for fishing gear, a key contributor to marine pollution.

The European Parliament will vote in plenary in the week of 22 October on the environment committee’s proposals.

Yesterday, the global Break Free From Plastic movement published the results of 239 clean-ups and brand audits in 42 countries on six continents, revealing the extent of plastic pollution. The companies responsible for the most plastic pollution were Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé. Full details at bit.ly/brandauditreport2018.

On the same day, a 260,000-strong petition calling for the legislation to hold companies responsible for plastic pollution was delivered to members of the European Parliament’s environment committee by Rethink Plastic, Break Free From Plastic and Sum of Us.

ENDS

NOTES:

[1] The definition supported by the European Parliament’s environment committee concerns any plastic product “designed or placed on the market to be used only once over a short time span before it is discarded”.

[2] Oxo-degradable plastics are supposedly biodegradable plastics, which in reality break down into small fragments and contribute to harmful microplastic pollution in the oceans and other ecosystems.

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#Fracking4Plastics – a link that drives plastic and climate pollution

#Fracking4Plastics – a link that drives plastic and climate pollution

By Andy Gheorghiu, Food and Water Europe

I guess that when people think of plastic pollution most of the time they think of single use plastic items (such as plastic bags, cotton buds, plastic straws, and food & beverage packaging).

I also guess that – when people think about getting active against plastic pollution –  some people would like to introduce bans on single-use plastic bags and cotton buds as well as bottle deposit-return and recycling schemes – basically trying to help reduce the use of polluting plastic in their daily lives.

However, the core of the problem lies in the business of  virgin plastic production where the key corporations totally rely on, or even represent major oil and gas companies. Unfortunately, these guys are not keen to reduce plastic production at all because that’s what makes both theirs and their shareholders deep pockets happy.

Shale gas and fracking is creating a plastics renaissance in the U.S.

It is increasingly clear that the plastics industry in the United States has reaped massive hidden benefits from the environmentally destructive fracking boom. Hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) injects large quantities of fresh water, sand and toxic chemicals under high pressure to release oil and gas that are tightly held in rock layers.

The fracking boom has also produced an oversupply of cheap ethane in the past few years. This surge has been a boon for the plastics industry, which relies on petrochemical manufacturing to turn ethane (i.e. the so-called “wet gas” component of natural gas) into plastics. According to a recently published IEA report, the United States is home to around 40% of the global production capacity for ethane-based petrochemicals.

Petrochemicals are about to rapidly becoming the largest driver of global oil (including “wet gas” or ethane) consumption – ahead of trucks, aviation and shipping. Today, the chemical sector is already the largest industrial consumer of fossil fuels, accounting for 14% of global oil (including ethane) and 8% of gas primary demand. The IEA expects that cheap ethane consumption will grow by 70% until 2030, in part due to the expansion of US exports to regions such as Europe.

According to the American Chemistry Council, a total investment of $202.4 billion for 333 petrochemical projects have been announced since 2010, with 53 percent already completed or under construction. Appalachia, a region in Pennsylvania that has been already hit hard by massive fracking development in the last 10 years could turn into the largest gas-producing region in the US (accounting for 37% by 2040).

 

Fracking & plastics’ profiteer you’ve never heard of is the richest man in the UK

The CEO (and basically owner) of major petrochemical giant Ineos, Jim Ratcliffe, has made a fortune by #Fracking4Plastics and it has helped him become the richest man in the UK.

He is the main driving force behind the establishment of an already existing supply chain of fracked US gas that Ineos uses to produce plastics in Europe. The Ineos Dragon Ships crossing the Atlantic emblazoned with the slogan “Shale Gas for Europe” are leaving more than a toxic legacy in Europe — they are fueling the proliferation of fracking in Pennsylvania, a state that already struggeled with the impacts of oil and gas industry pollution. As a matter of course, Ineos tries to downplay the risks of fracking and plastics production; Jim Ratcliffe compared environmental accidents to getting a car tyre puncture.

No wonder. His fortune has been built on it.

Ineos is Europe’s largest ethylene producer, with ethylene being the most important chemical building block for plastics, solvents and fibres. The company has operated chemical plants for nearly two decades, but in that short time many of its facilities have been bedeviled by environmental problems. Its dozens of manufacturing facilities across Europe have been responsible for releases of toxic chemicals, leaks, fires and explosions that have endangered workers, communities and the environment. In 2016, Ineos’ Grangemouth complex was Scotland’s top emitter of carbon dioxide. And Ineos is currently facing prosecution over gas-flaring pollution breaches at the Grangemouth facility.

In May 2018, about 450,000 plastic pellets were found on a single beach in Scotland, not very far away from Ineos’ biggest facility in the UK. Endangered Scottish puffins have also been found with plastic pellets in their stomachs.  Experts believe that 15 percent of the puffins population that lives in the Firth of Forth (where the Grangemouth chemical complex of Ineos is located) could suffer from swallowed plastic pellets.

Plastic – mainly in the form of pellets or so-called nurdles – has already littered 73 percent of UK’s 279 shorelines. Several studies have shown that sea salt around the world is contaminated by plastic. Plastic fibres have been found in tap and bottled water around the world; in 2017 plankton was caught on camera eating plastic and we now have scientific evidence that degrading plastic emits methane and represents a hitherto unrecognised source of climate change.

Personally, I say “enough is enough” It’s time to stand up and make a difference. It’s time to hold upstream virgin plastic producers for the pollution they’re causing responsible.

It’s time to unite, fight #Fracking4Plastics and companies like #IneosVthePeople.

It’s time to #BanFrackingNow to #BreakFreeFromPlastic!

 

We’re taking action for the #GasDownFrackDown 2018:

World Sailing Association urged to exclude Ineos sailing team

After pledging to “beat plastic pollution” earlier this year, World Sailing’s President comes under fire for allowing UK petrochemical giant INEOS to sponsor the UK sailing team.

INEOS’s sponsorship can be seen as nothing but blatant greenwashing, which directly undermines the ethics of World Sailing.

In its Code of Ethics, World Sailing makes a promise “to protect the environment on the occasion of any events…and to uphold generally accepted standards for environmental protection.” World Sailing further claims to support the objectives of increasing and developing awareness of sustainability issues amongst all sailing stakeholders.

In June this year, World Sailing joined the Clean Seas Campaign, partnering with the International Olympic Committee and UN Environment to “beat plastic pollution”.

The ongoing presence of INEOS Team UK in World Sailing’s headline event single-handedly shatters these endeavours, bringing World Sailing, into disrepute.

Key environmental organisations (including Greenpeace UK, Food & Water Watch, Oil Change International and BreakFreeFromPlastic) as well as grassroots groups have teamed up with academics and are asking World Sailing in an open letter written by Australian Human Rights Lawyer Jennifer Robinson to are asking World Sailing to disassociate itself from INEOS Team UK, and consider the implementation of an ethical and environmentally friendly sponsorship policy that truly reflects its goals.

INEOS Team UK led by Sir Ben Ainslie embark on the GC32 X in Toulon, France between 10th-14th October 2018 (www.gc32racingtour.com).

In the Letter addressed to World Sailing President Kim Andersen points out:

  • World Sailing Code of Ethics promises to protect the environment at any event!
  • World Sailing joined the Clean Seas Campaign to beat plastic pollution!
  • But now World Sailing allows INEOS to sponsor a sailing team led by Sir Ben Ainslie!
  • INEOS is #Fracking4Plastics on both sides of the Atlantic!
  • Fracking contributes significantly to climate change, pollutes the environment, threats public health and violates human rights!
  • INEOS wants to frack the UK to make more ocean polluting plastics!
  • Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats to our ocean!
  • World Sailing to disassociate itself from INEOS Team UK!

 

The letter will be delivered Wednesday, October 10th 2018, to World Sailing HQ, Paddington, London. This action is part of a wide range of events of groups from around the world who will stand together in a united fight against the gas, fracking and plastics/petrochemicals industry for the Global #GasDownFrackDown 2018

Actions are planned across North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania. Join us!

 

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