Photo Essay: BFFP Members Conduct Brand Audits All Across China

Photo Essay: BFFP Members Conduct Brand Audits All Across China

In Dongying city Shangdong Province, about 43 people took part in a brand audit by the lakeside.

In Wuxi city, 15 people took part in a brand audit on the hill.

In Zhongshan city, 79 people took part in a brand audit by the seaside.

In Shishi city Fujiang province, 102 people took part in a brand audit by the seaside.

In Shijiazhuang citiy, about 100 people (including 58 kids) took part in a brand audit on the hill.


In Zhuhai city Guangdong province, 30 people took part in a brand audit under the water.

In Hunan province Pingjiang county, 12 people took part in a brand audit on the hill.




Photo Essay: PlastiCo. Project celebrates World Cleanup Day in Ecuador with brand audits

Photo Essay: PlastiCo. Project celebrates World Cleanup Day in Ecuador with brand audits

We are PlastiCo. Project from Ecuador! To celebrate the World Cleanup Day this year we activated 15 cleanup sites in four different cities. We had the participation of nearly 600 volunteers that joined this beautiful activity.

This year we collected more than 1700 kg of trash in places that seemed clean at first sight. Volunteers couldn’t help but wonder about the impact of single-use plastic while they were sorting the trash.

For a few hours that we all turned into scientists, we observed in the trash we found how plastic works, how it never really goes away and how it only breaks up into little pieces of plastic that then turn into a huge problem called microplastics.

Also, this World Cleanup Day marks a year since we started doing brand audits in our cleanups. It has been a year of learning a lot about producer responsibility and their involvement in the plastic pollution issue. We feel so excited about doing this in every cleanup since this information is a powerful tool to initiate a conversation with big corporations about possible solutions.

Overall we celebrated this special day by learning, acting, questioning, and connecting with the green community committed to having a positive impact on the planet.


Andrea is an economist, environmentalist, and activist for the rights of nature. From a young age, she has felt passionate about nature, and 3 years ago she started to take action against plastic pollution by creating PlastiCo. Project. She lives a zero-waste lifestyle and started a zero-waste store in Quito for people to learn about new sustainable lifestyle alternatives.


Why is World Cleanup Day an important day in Tanzania?

Why is World Cleanup Day an important day in Tanzania?

Tanzania ranked 3rd in Africa in terms of mobilization of people during World Cleanup Day 2018, and 10th globally. Roughly 40,000 people came together in one day collecting over 500 tons of trash from public spaces in over 16 regions in the country and gathering data on the waste found in community areas and along the country’s coastline.

Despite the apparent success of the campaign, many people ask us why we continue to organize cleanups when most likely, waste will go back to where it was after a couple of weeks, sometimes even a couple of days. I confess that I used to ask myself the same question when I started working with Nipe Fagio and experiencing the amount of energy taken to organize cleanups when solid waste management in a country like Tanzania requires a much more systematic approach that includes community members, the government, and private sector. 

Here are three reasons why World Cleanup Day can help us moving towards long-term sustainable solutions in Tanzania.

First, World Cleanup Day is a solid opportunity to engage and mobilize people. The simplicity of getting people to come together and clean areas that they transit through every day, with their neighbors and family, is powerful and exciting. While we frequently lose people’s attention when we talk about more complex solutions to solid waste management, the same people tend to enjoy spending a couple of hours feeling that they are doing something powerful for their communities. 

Secondly, to ensure that the effort put on organizing World Cleanup Day is worth it, we perform waste and brand audits in every cleanup site. Through that we learned that about 75% of the waste found illegally dumped in Tanzania is locally produced, meaning that with enough community pressure, government engagement, and private sector will, we can, actually, solve a great part of our solid waste problem internally. So far, communities, the government, and the private sector have shown great interest in the data collected during our cleanups and we hope that these engagements can lead to concrete actions, especially regarding local packaging replacement.

Waste and brand audits give us a unique opportunity to get people to understand the waste that is commonly found in the country, its origin, and the impact of consumers’ choices. But most importantly, they help us realize the footprint that industries have on the waste management situation as well as their responsibility to be accountable to the communities and to give consumers less harmful choices when it comes to packaging. The culture of cheap single-use packaging under the marketing concept of giving people with low income access to small amounts of products that they can afford has been the one major source of plastic pollution in Tanzania. This has led to the replacement of traditional bulk shops with plastic packaging that can’t be recycled or composted and pollute our rivers and coastline, causing floods and spreading diseases.

Lastly, World Cleanup Day allows us to open people’s eyes to the need of their participation when it comes to ensuring that solid waste management works in their communities. It is an open door to conversations about community-based zero waste models, like the one Nipe Fagio is implementing in three communities in Dar es Salaam, as we prove to people and government that communities are ready to take responsibility over their own waste and therefore decentralized community-owned solutions are possible.

On a personal note, when I moved to Tanzania, nearly 10 years ago, I was surprised by the lack of confidence Tanzanian citizens had in their own capacity to solve the country’s problems. I frequently hear and see people and organizations questioning the power of Tanzanian communities. For me, after 10 years of community-based work in Tanzania, there is nothing that I believe in more than Tanzanians. World Cleanup Day allows me to make this belief visible and to spread the beauty of community mobilization in front of people’s eyes.  As we say in Swahili, kwa pamoja tunaweza (together we can make a difference).

Ana Rocha is the Executive Director of Nipe Fagio. Photos by Chris Morgan.


Shifting the Narrative from Straws to Pipelines

Shifting the Narrative from Straws to Pipelines

International #breakfreefromplastic movement strategy conference in Bangkok in July 2019 with over 120 leaders from 25 countries. The meetings were facilitated by OAEC Executive Director, Dave Henson.


Since its launch in September 2016, nearly 1,500 organizations from across the world have joined the Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) 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.


International ConveningsBreak Free From Plastic Global Plastic Production


For the past two years, OAEC’s Executive Director Dave Henson has served as a lead facilitator and strategy consultant for BFFP US and for BFFP Global convenings. Dave recently facilitated a BFFP global strategy meeting in Thailand, and is prepping to facilitate the BFFP US national strategy meeting next month. Dave brings to this work decades of experience co-convening and facilitating strategy development for social justice and environmental movements.  He is optimistic because of how nearly universally people feel that ‘we don’t need all this plastic!’

OAEC is excited to work with the BFFP movement because it is focusing on addressing the plastic pollution problem at the point of production. Yes, each of us can choose to reduce the amount of plastic we buy and use, and we all can be much better at recycling those types of plastic that actually can and will be recycled, but this crisis will not be solved by “consumer action”. Half of the plastic that has ever existed was made since 2005.  The fossil fuel extraction industry and chemical manufactures are planning to double again plastic production by 2025 with an influx of raw materials supplied by new fracking operations. That is unacceptable. BFFP seeks to keep fossil fuels in the ground and to force companies to dramatically reduce – not expand – the amount of plastic being produced.



BFFP groups focusing on the plastic pollution end of the supply chain, including stopping plastic incineration and plastic dumping into our oceans and waterways, are standing together with groups on the frontlines of extraction. Likewise, groups fighting against gas and oil fracking, petrochemical processing, and plastic manufacturing are getting behind campaigns like Zero Waste Communities and winning municipal bans on single-use plastic. Together, we are coordinating our strategy and unifying the messaging towards our perspective, very different audiences.





Workshop BFFP

Shifting the Narrative Workshop at OAEC

In August 2019 here at OAEC, #breakfreefromplastic Senior Communications Officer Shilpi Chhotray and Lauren Moore of UPSTREAM organized an “Environmental Justice Culture Hack” storytelling workshop geared at highlighting the stories of frontline communities who are feeling the toxic impacts of plastic pollution at every level of the supply chain. The workshop, led by the Center for 

Story Based Strategy, brought together environmental justice organizers with communications strategists. The goal is to creatively shift the narrative of plastics as a “litter” problem focused on individual responsibility to a story of corporate accountability for the gross injustices of oil extraction and manufacturing of fossil fuel-based products. Ultimately, colonialism and the excesses of capitalism are at the root of the fight against plastics.

Compelling examples of this narrative shift were shared throughout the gathering. Stiv Wilson, movement strategist and documentary filmmaker with Story of Stuff opened with a sneak preview of the new, soon-to-be-released documentary Story of Plastic. Shilpi Chhotray presented some of the top trending graphics, memes, and hashtags such as the simple “straws to pipelines” gif shown at the top and all the images included in this post. Check out #breakfreefromplastic’s instagram stories for interviews of environmental justice activists whoparticipated in the gathering, including Yvette Arellano from T.E.J.A.S.Ponca Nation elder Casey Horineck, Whitney Amaya of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, Tricia Cortez of Rio Grande International Study Center and others.

One of #breakfreefromplasic’s social media success stories has been the highly influential brand audit campaign. Launched last year, environmental groups conducting beach clean-ups around the world were asked to take methodical records of which brands were most prevalent and post pictures with the hashtag #isthisyours?.  Not only was the social media reach of the images off-the-charts, the detailed report that BFFP generated based on the data revealed the names of top polluters including Unilever, Nestle, Proctor and Gamble, and PepsiCo – traceable proof of who is responsible.

BFFP Brand Audit

According to BFFP member organization GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives), “This research provides new quantitative evidence to support the global call for the plastics industry and manufacturing companies to immediately reduce and eventually stop producing single-use plastics as the primary solution to end plastic pollution.” BFFP and member groups have presented this report to the heads corporations and have the following demands – the 3 R’s Reveal, Reduce, and Reinvent!

Shifting the NarrativeOk, so recycling isn’t enough. How can I do more?

1) Educate yourself. These mini-documentaries by Story of Stuff are a great place to start. Go deeper with these articles by Center for International Environmental Law. We highly recommend the Just Transition framework beautifully described and dreamed up by the amazing folks at Climate Justice Alliance and our friends at Movement Generation.

2) Follow the leadership of frontline communities. Your solidarity is especially effective when you take collective action around issues effecting your home bioregion.

Recycling Only 9% 3) Vote. Support legislation and candidates that hold polluters accountable.

4) Aspire to live “throw-away-free” and use your creativity to imagine and promote what Zero Waste could look like in your household, business or community. Zero Waste is not just for rich people!

5) Participate in or lead a local brand audit.

6) Join the conversation by following #breakfreefromplastic on instagramtwitter, or facebook and share your story!




Article Originally posted on Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. All images courtesy of #breakfreefromplastic.

Vietnam-Strictly control the import of used goods, resolutely re-export consignments of imported scrap in violation of regulations

Vietnam-Strictly control the import of used goods, resolutely re-export consignments of imported scrap in violation of regulations

On August 22, at a meeting with representatives of 11 ministries and branches to discuss measures to strictly control the import of used goods and re-export of imported scrap cargo violating regulations, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Vo Tuan Nhan suggested that ministries and agencies focus on reviewing regulations on used goods banned from import and goods allowed to be conditionally imported; Strictly handle organizations and individuals that import used goods on the list of goods banned from import or import used goods that do not meet the prescribed requirements.

Reporting at the meeting, Mr. Hoang Van Thuc, Deputy General Director of Vietnam Environment Administration, said that implementing the Directive No. 27 / CT-TTg of the Prime Minister, last timeThe General Department of Customs has applied measures to remotely prevent shipments of imported scrap that do not meet the provisions of Vietnamese law; The batch of imported scrap cargo without information of the goods owner or the owner of the goods that are not on the list of organizations and individuals that have been issued with a certificate/certificate of eligibility for environmental protection in import of scrap shall not are brought into the territory of Vietnam. In cases where imported scrap shipments of establishments that have been issued with Certification are lowered into ports and determined not to meet QCVN, the importing establishments must fulfill the responsibility for re-exporting the goods lots. With these regulations, after September 17, 2018, basically restricting the backlog of goods that no shippers can receive.

Mr. Hoang Van Thuc, Deputy Director General of Vietnam Environment Administration spoke at the meeting

By the end of June 2019, for the re-export of violated scrap shipments, which are ineligible to be imported into Vietnam, the local Customs authorities have asked shipping lines to transport them. out of Vietnam territory 503 containers. Including 289 containers of plastic scrap, 106 containers of paper scrap, 98 containers of iron and steel scrap and 10 other scrap containers. In the coming time, the Vietnam Environment Administration will coordinate with ministries, branches, and localities to continue handling the outstanding containers at ports in the territory of Vietnam.

The representative of the General Department of Customs said that, in order to completely handle the remaining containers, it is necessary to classify scrap according to criteria and determine that waste will require goods owners to transport out of the territory. However, shipping lines’ re-export operations are very slow. The General Department of Customs proposes that if shipping lines are delayed in transporting shipments that do not meet environmental protection requirements out of the Vietnamese territory, the Ministry of Transport shall not grant further permits to shipping lines.

According to the representative of the Ministry of Public Security, in order to strictly control the import of used goods and re-export the imported consignments of scrap, the ministries should unify to build and perfect the system of documents. legal documents, avoiding individuals and units taking advantage of loopholes to violate the law on the import of scrap and goods not meeting environmental regulations; equipped with quick inspection facilities for customs authorities to control at ports; mechanisms for agencies to coordinate closely to minimize loopholes legally.

The Ministry of Science and Technology proposes that it is necessary to use the exact word radioactive waste and not radioactive waste; Amendment of the standards referring to radioactive scraps more suitable to reality should be specified in the form of using specialized tools for on-site control.

Overview of the meeting

Speaking at the meeting, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Vo Tuan Nhan said that the positive signal was initially recorded when the local customs authorities asked shipping lines to move out of the territory. Vietnam more than 500 containers. However, the concerned ministries and branches need to consider in order to quickly handle, control as well as limit the negative impacts of scrap cargo shipments that fail to meet environmental requirements; resolutely re-export, do not let unsuitable shipments of scrap enter Vietnam; promote communication and propagation activities in order to prevent violations committed by individuals and organizations.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment requests the Ministry of Finance to review and provide a list of organizations and individuals importing scrap which violates the regulations but fails to carry out re-export procedures and send to the agency certifying the full conditions. to import scrap as raw production materials for consideration and deprivation of the right to use certification. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall assume the prime responsibility in studying the experiences of a number of countries in the region in applying international diplomatic experience, practice and precedent to re-export waste goods and goods in violation of regulations. law on environmental protection

In order to strictly control the import of used goods, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment also requests the Ministries based on their assigned functions and tasks to focus on reviewing the regulations on used goods. ban on the import, goods allowed for conditional import; clarify responsibilities and strictly handle organizations and individuals that import used goods on the list of goods banned from import or import used goods which do not meet the prescribed requirements.

Based on the regulations on the import of used goods, the enforcement, inspection, supervision, and control of imported goods are within the scope and authority of the customs authorities, therefore, it is necessary to review them. measures to control and control risks and propose measures to strengthen strict control in the clearance of used goods. At the same time, within the management of the ministries, it is necessary to develop sanctions to handle violations of the regulations on import and ban on the import of used goods.

Article from Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Zero Waste Chennai: Planning for a garbage-free city

Zero Waste Chennai: Planning for a garbage-free city

The garbage piled up on the streets of Chennai. Photo by Shreyaa R

Launched earlier this month, Zero Waste Chennai is all about implementing a decentralized waste management system in the city and making Chennai sustainable and garbage-free in its 200 wards.

The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) and the Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to kickstart the Zero Waste Chennai project, which is to be implemented for the first time in the city.

Speaking to Indianexpress.com about the MoU, Vamsi Shankar Kapilavai, a researcher at CAG says, “There is an emphasis for managing waste in a decentralised manner in Chennai since the two landfills, Kodungaiyur and Perungudi which are currently being used by the Greater Chennai Corporation have reached their maximum capacity, following which the idea for Zero Waste Chennai was conceived.”

The programme aims to individually cover all 15 zones in the city which comprise of 200 wards in total, following the success of the pilot which was implemented in Ward 100, Anna Nagar, earlier this month. Kapilavai says that they had conducted door to door campaigns during the pilot and is confident about the project.

Elaborating on the MoU, Kapilavai said that there are very few cities in India which have a decentralized waste management system and with this MoU, Chennai has now joined their ranks.

Managing waste in a decentralized manner involves dividing the waste management system into sub-systems among the 15 zones in Chennai, with each ward being able to manage the waste generated within the ward itself. This is where the Zero Waste Chennai programme kicks in.

“We break the system down into three parts – wet waste or organic waste, dry waste or non-biodegradable waste and sanitary waste. Our main target is to recycle 100 per cent of the wet waste through composting and 70 per cent of the dry waste. That part of the dry waste which cannot be recycled will have to be changed through design or by asking the producers to take back their products”, says Kapilavai. Currently, multi-layered plastic items which cannot be recycled are sent to incinerators and burnt, which is something that Zero Waste Chennai aims to change. As far as sanitary waste is concerned, they are being sent to the landfills since there are no facilities available to recycle sanitary napkins and diapers now.

“Either the design has to be changed or other sustainable menstruation methods need to be practised for managing sanitary waste”, he said.

CAG will be responsible for planning and managing the programme while the Greater Chennai Corporation will handle the execution. “Since we do not have the manpower to implement a programme of this scale, we will cross-check the implementation and monitor their performance through a review meeting which will be held once in two weeks”, he says.

Since this is the first time that waste segregation is being implemented in the city on a large scale, Kapilavai said that every morning, one woman, termed as ‘Animator’ under the Swacch Bharat Mission will accompany a tricycle on its rounds as it collects waste from 250 households a day. “Each ward has one animator and her task is to educate the residents about the segregation of waste and its importance and teach them to segregate waste”.

At present, CAG is focusing on ward 100 while the Greater Chennai Corporation is focusing on developing its infrastructure and getting them back on track for Zero Waste Chennai. Kapilavai says that once the system is in place, it will be handed over to the zonal officers to implement in their respective wards.

Going forward, Kapilavai says that apartment complexes should soon have their own waste management systems in places before getting a permit for construction. “An apartment which has more than 50 flats is considered to be a bulk waste generator, so as per the rule, they need to have their own waste management system in place. We are in talks with the Greater Chennai Corporation to implement this”, says the researcher.

While changing the mindset of people could be an arduous task, Kapilavai said that with continuous education, follow up and perseverance, waste segregation will become ingrained into the lives of the people. “It is all about ground contact”, he concluded.

Article originally posted in Indian Express.


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