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Green groups to Nestlé: “Own up, pay up, clean up your act!”

Green groups to Nestlé: “Own up, pay up, clean up your act!”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MANILA, Philippines (April 10, 2019) A day before Nestlé’s Annual General Meeting, over a hundred activists belonging to the global #breakfreefromplastic movement trooped to Nestlé’s Philippine headquarters today to demand accountability for their role in abetting the country’s  plastic pollution crisis.

Accompanied by four higantes (giant mascots) carrying a serpent-like plastic monster, the groups delivered a demand letter and “invoice from the Filipino people” outlining the costs of Nestlé’s single-use plastic packaging to human health impacts, environmental pollution, death of wildlife, damage to livelihoods and businesses, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste management costs.

“For the longest time, companies like Nestlé have been passing  on the costs and impacts of their plastic pollution to our people, communities, and environment. Their continuing reliance on single-use plastics for packaging their products has brought on terrible consequences  for nature, marked by polluted beaches and suffering wildlife, not to mention potentially serious effects on our health,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chair of Mother Earth Foundation.

The Philippines, along with other Southeast Asian countries, are reeling from the impacts of plastic pollution brought about by the influx of products wrapped in sachets or smaller plastic packaging aimed at reaching lower income brackets in developing countries. However, communities and governments often bear the brunt of managing the disposal of these plastic packaging while multinational corporations’ continued production and use of single-use plastic packaging have been escaping scrutiny and accountability.

In brand audits conducted in coastal areas, as well as in cities and municipalities throughout the country, Nestlé’s throwaway plastic packaging outnumbered the amount of packaging from other manufacturers. In a five-year household waste assessment and brand audits conducted in seven cities and municipalities by MEF, Nestlé was found to be the top household plastic polluter, with Nestlé-branded packaging trash accounting  for almost 15% of the total branded residual waste audited.

Further, waste and brand audits conducted in six Philippine and Indonesian hospitals in 2018 also found Nestle (along with Monde Nissin and Danone) as one of the top three biggest single-use plastic waste producers. Finally, in September 2017, #breakfreefromplastic member organizations in the Philippines conducted an unprecedented  eight-day coastal cleanup, waste and brand audit on Freedom Island, a critical habitat for migratory birds off Manila Bay. The audit identified the top brands found to be polluting the island. Multinational corporations like Nestle led the top corporate plastic polluters ranking.

“It is totally unjust that Nestlé is passing the burden for managing what is essentially an unmanageable waste problem on our  local governments and citizens. Why should taxpayers assume the pollution legacy of a multi-billion dollar company? Our government should start charging Nestlé and similar companies for their share of our waste management costs. Our taxes should be used to support educational, health and other social services for Filipinos, and not to cover up the pollution footprint of multinational companies,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the Ecowaste Coalition.

In a briefing paper released today, the groups have estimated that  the cost for the management of residual wastes (which is mostly single-use plastics) is around PHP 5.8 to 7.2 million per day, or around PHP 2.1 to 2.6 billion per year.

“Corporations like Nestlé must redesign their production and start investing in alternative packaging materials and delivery systems that are ecologically sustainable for the people and the planet. We also want to see clear targets and timelines from the company on how they intend to reduce their plastic footprint. It is lamentable that instead of prioritizing reduction measures, the company is still fixated in promoting false and controversial solutions like chemical recycling and pyrolysis to respond to this crisis. The time for greenwashing is over, Nestlé, it’s time to clean up your act!” added Beau Baconguis, Regional Plastics Campaigner of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and Asia-Pacific coordinator of #breakfreefromplastic.

“We are here today because we have had enough. Nestlé claims to care about its plastic pollution, but has actually continued to increase its reliance on throwaway plastics. In 2018, the company produced 1.7 million metric tons of plastic packaging, which is a 13 percent increase from the 1.5 million metric tons they produced in 2017. While they claim to be taking this crisis seriously, their actions are not backing that up. As a major contributor to plastic pollution, Nestlé must take immediate action to reduce its production of throwaway packaging and invest in refill and reuse delivery systems for the sake of our planet,” added Abigail Aguilar, Greenpeace Campaigner.

Notes to the Editors:

Last year, brand audits led by Break Free From Plastic member organizations in 42 countries, found Nestlé as the third most frequent multinational brand collected in cleanups.

In the Philippines, the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) estimated that waste generation in the country in 2016 is at 40,000 tons per day (tpd). If we assume that all this goes to landfill, the cost for managing this waste is around PHP 32 million to 40 million daily. The NSWMC data cites that residuals comprise 18% of waste generated.

Contact:

Jed Alegado, Communications Officer for Asia Pacific, Break Free from Plastic

jed@breakfreefromplastic.org | +63 917 607 0248

Sonia Astudillo, Communications Officer, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives Asia Pacific

sonia@no-burn.org | +63 917 596 9286

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.

 

ZERO WASTE MONTH:  Thousands march for clean air to protest pending bills on waste incineration

ZERO WASTE MONTH: Thousands march for clean air to protest pending bills on waste incineration

Quezon City, 29 January 2019—As National Zero Waste Month draws to a close, thousands of individuals from different environment, religious, and other civil society groups marched today around the Quezon City Elliptical Circle to demand the responsible government agencies to protect our right to clean air and healthy ecology, and to register the groups’ dissent on the pending bills on Senate promoting waste incineration.

The Walk for Clean Air called on the government officials and lawmakers to uphold the ban on waste incineration enshrined in the Clean Air Act (RA 8749) and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003). The groups were reacting to recent policies and positions of the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Energy, Public Works and Highways, and Science and Technology, which contravene the ban. The peaceful walk was held as the Philippine Senate sets public hearings on House Bill 6893 and Senate Bills 2076 and 506, which all seek to repeal the ban and facilitate the entry of waste incineration into the country. The groups contend that waste incineration is an unsustainable system for managing waste and resources, negatively impacting people’s health and livelihoods, the environment and climate, and the economy.

Waste picker and community member Joan Amitan of Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Mamamayan ng Longos (NLML) said that building waste incineration facilities will paralyze their families’ income. “Sumasali po kami sa martsang ito para tutulan ang pagpapatayo ng mga mapaminsalang waste incinerators. Maliban sa mga panganib na maaari nitong maging sanhi sa aming komunidad at sa aming pang-araw araw na ikinabubuhay, binabalewala rin nito ang aming kontribusyon sa epektibong pagpapatupad ng segregation ng mga basura,” said Amitan of NLML.

Aside from the threats to the livelihood of the people, communities who marched during the said activity reiterated the threats of putting up waste incinerators to our climate and to the health of the people.

“Typhoons and other human-induced disasters have been devastating our country ever since time immemorial. By putting up waste incinerators, we are just intensifying our vulnerability by adding more harmful pollution in the environment,” said No Burn Pilipinas Campaign Manager Glenn Ymata.

No Burn Pilipinas said that by strengthening the implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, our government can lead us to an environmental and sustainable approach in managing our wastes.

“The leaders of our government are not just expected to make promises to their constituents. It is part of their mandate to implement and execute the laws enshrined in our constitution and it is about time they give importance to the only thing that is left free for the people—the air we breathe,” Ymata added.

Ymata also called out government officials who have pending waste incineration proposals in their areas. “Despite the presence of the provisions that prohibit waste incineration in RA 9003 and RA 8749, these local unit leaders still have the guts to propose putting up such harmful facilities. This is nothing but a disservice to their people and a clear violation of the law,” he said.

Waste-to-energy incineration has already been proposed in Manila and Iloilo. Recent proposals also surfaced in Baguio, Quezon City, Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Cebu City, and in Davao City. No Burn Pilipinas note that these proposals are illegal and that government officials should not be encouraging the violation of national laws.

Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition said it is “zero waste or zero votes.” Lucero mentioned that if leaders running for the congress seats still refuse to adopt zero waste approaches for their areas, said groups will aggressively call for zero votes for them for the upcoming national elections.

“We are calling on the senators, especially Senate President Tito Sotto, to read up on our laws and reject all policy proposals and amendments that will violate our current laws protecting the clean air including his bill to overturn the incineration ban. These bills are business proposals for harmful facilities, and are not alternative solutions that protect the interests of the Filipino people,” Ymata concluded.

###

No Burn Pilipinas is an alliance of civil society groups who are advocating Zero Waste technologies and are calling on the government to uphold the ban on waste incineration. The vision of No Burn Pilipinas is a Philippines free of waste incineration and pursuing the Zero Waste approach, and where the linear economy has been replaced by a sustainable and just circular model. The vision ensures that the health and well-being of communities are safeguarded and the environment protected.

 

FOR INQUIRIES:

Glenn Ymata, 0917 837 7625: Senior Program Officer

Zaira Baniaga, 0939 707 1589: Media Liason

 

“Do your job and don’t violate the laws,” environmental groups told DENR

“Do your job and don’t violate the laws,” environmental groups told DENR

PRESS RELEASE

Quezon City, January 21, 2019–Environmental groups today trooped to the Department on Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) calling Secretary Roy Cimatu to respect the law and refrain from issuing the pending waste-to-energy guidelines which includes sections pertaining to waste-to-energy incineration.

The groups, under the alliance No Burn Pilipinas, said issuance of such guidelines is a violation of the Clean Air Act and RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

“DENR is busy doing everything else but their mandate. Waste incineration is banned under the Philippine law. Issuing guidelines that contradict with the existing policies can only cause confusion to the people especially the local government units,” said Glenn Ymata, Campaign Manager of No Burn Pilipinas. “What the DENR should be doing right now is implementing the Clean Air Act and coordinating with the local government units in making sure that the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act is being followed,” Ymata added.

Groups reiterated that right to balanced and healthy ecology is clearly stated in the Philippine constitution, and that the DENR has its written mandate to protect the public and the environment—which all will be violated and neglected once waste-to-energy guidelines are issued.

No Burn Pilipinas, together with its community partners globally and from different areas in the country remain firm on its stand against waste incineration saying that it violates the right of the people to breathe clean air and for a healthy environment.

“We already have the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act that leads us to an environmental and sustainable approach in waste management. Building waste incinerators is definitely a big step backward for us,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition. “We have model communities who can prove that the Zero Waste approach is the only way to go towards a successful waste management. Practices in said areas should be replicated, strengthened, and mainstreamed. This should also serve as a reminder to our dear secretary that issuing waste-to-energy guidelines invalidates the efforts of these communities,” added Lucero.

Lucero argued that the DENR has been employing a quick fix solution to the waste problem without even fully enforcing the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. Groups also called out the National Solid Waste Management Commission for doing nothing for the past 18 years.

Said groups also trooped to Quezon City Hall to oppose the construction of waste incineration facility in Payatas.

“If only DENR sets as an example of following what’s written in our laws, local units like Quezon City should have not thought of having waste incineration facility in the first place. They have to do their job now and stop violating the laws,” Ymata concluded.

-end-

Give me Convenience or Give Me Death

Give me Convenience or Give Me Death

Written by Stiv Wilson. Article originally posted in Story of Stuff.

At this point in modern life, we likely touch plastic more than we touch our loved ones.  Plastic has become a ubiquitous symbol of globalization. Most of us have a limited relationship to this material, experiencing it only from purchase to disposal.  But there is a whole story that exists before and after when we come into contact with it, and that’s the real Story of Plastic.

One of the most common misconceptions about plastic is its recycling value, but the story there is nuanced. Recycled plastics don’t have much value, especially given our rising levels of virgin plastic production. What’s more, not all plastic is created alike, and plastics with little or no recycling value are likely to end up poisoning people and the environment. For the most part, countries in the developed world pass off this burden to developing nations. We simply can’t recycle our way out of this problem.

We wanted to see where low value plastic recycled in the US and other developed countries ends up. That curiosity took us to Indonesia, and what we found was startling.

We throw all sorts of plastic into our recycling bins, which then gets sorted at big, automated recycling facilities. In this process, flat plastic often gets mistaken for paper and ends up in huge bales of recycled paper. These bales as loaded into shipping containers and exported to countries with fewer environmental controls and cheap labor to be recycled into new paper and cardboard products. At the paper plants in countries like Indonesia, the flat plastic “contaminants” are sorted out by hand.

The problem is that the onslaught of these exports is near constant, so all that plastic ends up being dumped in open fields and neighborhoods where an informal sector of wastepickers sort through it for materials that can earn them money from the recycling operators in country. They make about $1.50 a day sorting through these mountains of plastic waste for recyclables like flattened aluminum cans and beverage bottles. And because the trucks of plastic never stop, they continue to look only for the highest-value materials. The rest of the plastic – ”residuals” like snack wrappers, bags, and other scraps – could technically be recycled (for the most part), it has so little value that it’s not worth it even for someone making just $1.50 a day to pick it up.

Places like this, in Surabaya, Indonesia, are the end of the line for plastic from all over the world. To get rid of the onslaught of plastic that keeps coming from places like the US, The European Union, and Australia, it’s openly burned or used as fuel in local neighborhood tofu factories. The ash is full of toxics and is dumped without any control, often adjacent to rivers and rice fields. The unfiltered smoke from hundreds of stacks goes straight into the air.

In other neighborhoods in this area, the residual plastic separated from the paper is dumped in communities willing to sort it for a few extra dollars to augment rice farming and other small-scale industries. The result is a surreal landscape of litter, with hills of waste and the occasional tree sticking through a floor of plastic so thick you can’t see the ground. Here, too, the plastic is burned to make room for more, sending dioxins and heavy metals straight into the soil and water table. The smell of burning plastic is omnipresent, and induces headaches and sore throats within minutes of stepping out of car. There is little public health data in places like rural Indonesia, but I can say anecdotally there’s something in plain view that’s hard to stomach: there are few old people. People in these communities don’t seem to live long lives. They are choking on plastic and its poisonous fumes.

It’s easy to look at this sort of practice out of context and blame a country like Indonesia for ‘bad management.’ But what’s missing from the dialogue is that the current global system of plastic consumption and disposal depends on this reality.  If poor people in other countries weren’t sorting out the few valuable materials and burning the rest of our Trader Joe’s packaging and water bottle wrappers, the recycling systems in developed world countries would economically collapse.

It’s easy to look at this sort of practice out of context and blame a country like Indonesia for ‘bad management.’ But what’s missing from the dialogue is that the current global system of plastic consumption and disposal depends on this reality.  If poor people in other countries weren’t sorting out the few valuable materials and burning the rest of our Trader Joe’s packaging and water bottle wrappers, the recycling systems in developed world countries would economically collapse.

This environmental horror is one of the main reasons China announced that it would no longer take our waste. That alone has drastically affected the economics of recycling globally, but also created a race to the bottom where developed world countries are desperately trying to find new places to dispose of our waste. In a sense, this system is designed this way, not necessarily by any one evil specter, but more from a series of bad ideas that have become an entrenched system that is hard to change.

Luckily, in all the places where these problems exist, there are people fighting back, working to change the system. They’re working to stop waste imports and ban low- and no-value plastics from their communities. But we in privileged societies also have an obligation to work in solidarity with people in developing countries and to push back at the convenience industrial complex that created this mess in the first place. That means organizing against corporations like Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever who profit from this model. It means passing strong policies aimed at reducing the amount of plastic in the system and making companies responsible for the waste that their products leave behind.

The Story of Plastic will show not only what this hidden global system looks like, but also how a global movement is rising up to fix it. It not only can be done, it must be done.

Green groups challenge ADB to innovate, not incinerate

Green groups challenge ADB to innovate, not incinerate

Mandaluyong City, Philippines, 9 November 2018 — Green groups today challenged the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to live up to its stated mandate and stop financing any form of waste incineration. Incineration, including so-called “waste-to-energy” (WTE) incineration, is a dangerous, costly, and unsustainable method of treating waste. The groups contend that ADB is flouting local and international laws by promoting incineration, and that the bank should facilitate—instead of obstruct—Asia-Pacific’s transition toward a sustainable circular economy.

The call came during the launch of the report ADB and Waste Incineration: Bankrolling Pollution; Blocking Solutions [1] published by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). The report is a critical review of how ADB promotes investments in WTE incineration despite documented negative impacts of these facilities on public health, environment, economy, and the climate.[2] Joining the launch to call for the bank to pull out of waste incineration funding were No Burn Pilipinas, EcoWaste Coalition, Break Free From Plastic, Greenpeace, Healthcare Without Harm, Mother Earth Foundation, and the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ).

“Incinerator financing is a classic example of ADB’s schizophrenic funding policy,” said Lea Guerrero, GAIA climate and clean energy campaigner. “The bank is using public money to promote dirty and destructive projects that serve to prevent countries in the region from pursuing solutions that conserve resources, protect health and which do not harm the climate. This report challenges ADB to innovate, not incinerate: the world is already moving away from incineration and transitioning to a sustainable circular economy. ADB should follow suit and fund just, equitable Zero Waste systems that will enable this transition.”

The report shows that WTE incinerator facilities advanced by ADB present significant investment risks, fail to comply with key provisions of the bank’s safeguard standards as well as core pillars of the bank’s poverty reduction strategy, and present a lack of accountability to the very people within member countries it is mandated to serve. In Asia, the bank is the leading agency that is bringing the failed incineration model from the Global North. It also proactively partners with waste incineration companies to build WTE incinerators in the region. These facilities lock countries into enormous (and onerous) debts for environmentally and publicly harmful projects with exploitative “put-or-pay” contracts that obstruct the adoption of best practices for dealing with resources and waste.

Among incineration projects funded by ADB are incinerator facilities in China and Vietnam. The bank also recommends waste incineration to other countries through its technical assistance (TA) projects, such as in the Philippines.

“In the Philippines, ADB’s pro-incinerator policies contravene the country’s Clean Air, Ecological Solid Waste Management, and Renewable Energy laws,” said Glenn Ymata, No Burn Pilipinas campaign manager. “Aside from clearly going against its safeguard standards, ADB is potentially locking cities and municipalities, already stretched for funds, into decades of wastage and indebtedness. It is business as usual for ADB and it has been the same  for over 50 years.”

Last October, the bank announced that its lending portfolio has no place for “dirty energy”.[3] Green groups assert that WTE incineration is dirty energy and should not be financed by the bank. “ADB’s funding of incinerators is based on the industry lie that WTE incineration is renewable energy,” said  of PMCJ. “WTE incineration is polluting, carbon intensive, and takes investments away from real RE solutions. It should not be part of the ADB’s portfolio.”###

 

Read the Executive Summary HERE.

 

CONTACT

  • Sherma Benosa | Communications Officer, GAIA Asia Pacific | +63 9178157570  sherma@no-burn.org

 

NOTE TO EDITORS

[1] http://www.no-burn.org/wp-content/uploads/ADB-and-Waste-Incineration-GAIA-Nov2018.pdf

[2] The report highlights that incinerators 1) have adverse impacts on the health and wellbeing of people and the environment ; 2) contribute to climate change; 3) damage local and national economies; and 4) obstruct resource sustainability. WTE incineration is the most expensive way to manage waste and generate electricity and perpetuate the unsustainable “take, make, waste” linear economic model that abets climate change and pollution. At present, incinerator and WTE incinerator facilities are seeing a phaseout in Europe in recognition that incineration is not compatible with a sustainable, low-carbon, and resource-efficient circular economy.

[3] https://www.adb.org/news/op-ed/no-place-dirty-energy-adb-s-climate-vision-yongping-zhai