FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New quantitative evidence reveals the extent of plastic pollution in the Philippines
Manila, Philippines (March 7, 2019) —Filipinos use more than 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million sando bags and 45 million labo bags daily. These numbers were revealed in a new report released today by environmental organization Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). The group contends that single-use disposable plastic is the greatest obstacle to sound waste and resource management, and is calling on governments and manufacturers to regulate, and stop producing, single-use plastics.
The report, Plastics exposed: How waste assessments and brand audits are helping Philippine cities fight plastic pollution, uses data from household waste assessments and brand audits (WABA) conducted by Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) in six cities and seven municipalities across the country in the past five years. GAIA extrapolated the data to calculate daily and yearly plastic usage throughout the country in order to provide new quantitative evidence about plastic pollution in the Philippines. The report is being launched ahead of the UN Environment Assembly meeting next week, where plastic pollution will be discussed.
“Sa aming barangay, ginagawa namin ang lahat para sa maayos na pangangasiwa ng panapon, pero problema talaga ang plastic,” said Mercy Sumilang, a kagawad from Barangay Talayan in Quezon City. “Kung lahat ng pangunahing bilihin ay naka-sachet o plastic napipilitan kami maging bahagi ng pollution. Dapat masolusyonan ito.”
The findings in the report show how cities and municipalities around the Philippines are struggling against plastic residuals. Despite efforts on the part of many localities to institute Zero Waste programs, they still struggle with plastics which prevent them from achieving Zero Waste goals. With the projected increase in plastic production worldwide, including in the Philippines, national governments, as well as local government authorities need robust data and effective strategies to address the looming plastic pollution crisis.
“Cities and municipalities can fight back against plastic pollution using data from waste assessments and brand audits,” said Sonia Mendoza, chairman of Mother Earth Foundation. “Cities can strengthen regulations, improve waste management services, and reduce waste volume and corresponding management costs. They can also use the data to pursue plastic bans or regulations, and to compel companies to acknowledge their liability for plastic pollution.”
According to GAIA, the figures show that the sheer volume of plastic waste generated daily is beyond the capacity of barangays, cities and municipalities to manage, and that the only way to manage single-use plastic is to make less of it. “The problem is the huge amount of single-use plastics being produced—not just the way waste is managed,” said Froilan Grate, executive director of GAIA Asia-Pacific. “Plastic is a pollution problem, and it starts as soon as the plastic is made. Clean-up is left to cities and municipalities who use taxpayers’ money to deal with the waste. Companies create the waste inthe form of plastic sachets, and profit from these, in the millions. They must be made accountable for the pollution.”
According to the report, cities and municipalities deal with a greater number of branded plastic waste (at least 54% of total residual waste) than unbranded waste. Ten companies are responsible for 60%, and four multinational companies are responsible for 36%, of all branded waste collected in the sample sites.
With the absence of a national policy on plastics, some local governments in the Philippines have instituted plastic bag regulations. However, branded plastics that include sachets and other primary packaging used by some of the world’s largest manufacturing companies are not covered by bans. GAIA states that if manufacturers were mandated at the national level to reduce production of throwaway plastic packaging, for example through innovations such as alternative delivery systems or reusable packaging, this would address a large part of the country’s plastic waste problem, including plastic waste leakage to rivers and seas.
“The Philippine case is merely a snapshot of what’s happening in other parts of the world,” said Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of the #breakfreefromplastic movement. “This is a global crisis that needs global interventions. We need policies and strong regulations that would ban single use plastics and hold corporations accountable for their role in perpetuating decades of plastic pollution”
The report lays out several recommendations for the Philippine government to effectively address plastic pollution, including: standardizing disaggregated data on plastic packaging in waste assessments, as well as including brand information; instituting comprehensive national plastic bag ban and the regulation of other single-use plastic products; mandating companies to redesign products, packaging and delivery systems; and strengthening the ban on waste incineration. GAIA is additionally calling on manufacturing corporations to be transparent about the plastic packaging they produce, assume accountability and liability for their packaging, and immediately stop producing throwaway plastic packaging. //ends
The report can be downloaded at: http://www.no-burn.org/waba2019
Contact: Sherma Benosa, 0917-815-7570, email@example.com
Notes to editors:
 Developed by Mother Earth Foundation, WABA is a tool used to obtain detailed information about the types, volume, and number of plastic waste in an area, in order to support strategies to help cities and municipalities deal effectively with solid waste.
 Quezon City, Navotas City, Malabon City, City of San Fernando (Pampanga), Batangas City, Tacloban City, and seven municipalities in the province of Nueva Vizcaya.
Headline explanation: Filipinos discard 163 million plastic sachet packets daily. If each packet were 5cm x 6cm in size and 1mm in thickness, they can be arranged side by side and stacked 312 times (around 1 foot high), covering an area equivalent to the land area of Metro Manila.
About GAIA – Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries whose ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration. www.no-burn.org
About MEF – Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) is a non-profit organization actively engaged in addressing waste and toxic pollution, climate change, and other health, and environmental justice issues in the Philippines. It is best known for its advocacy of Zero Waste through the systematic reduction and proper waste management. www.motherearthphil.org
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.
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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.
Glenn Ymata, 0917 837 7625: Senior Program Officer
Zaira Baniaga, 0939 707 1589: Media Liason
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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  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. 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”. 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.
- Sherma Benosa | Communications Officer, GAIA Asia Pacific | +63 9178157570 firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE TO EDITORS
 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.
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10 November 2018, Quezon City. A national environmental health and justice organization denounced the entry of misdeclared plastic trash from South Korea, a highly developed economy, to a country like the Philippines, which is struggling to address its own garbage woes.
Fearing a repeat of the still unresolved Canadian garbage dumping scandal, the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition called on the authorities to reject the illegal garbage imports from South Korea and to return them at once to their origin.
Bandila, the late night news broadcast of ABS CBN, reported about the garbage importation controversy on November 10. The report can be viewed here:
“We find this latest incident of plastic waste dumping outrageous and unacceptable. Why do we keep on accepting garbage from other countries when we know that our country’s plastic waste, which is literally everywhere, is spilling to the oceans and endangering marine life?,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“We also find it ironic that while South Korea is taking action to control its plastic waste, including banning plastic bags in supermarkets starting October this year, and yet its unwanted plastics are being sent abroad,” she said.
“It’s high time for the Philippines to disallow garbage imports and to demand that developed countries, as well as manufacturers of plastics and other disposable goods, take full responsibility for their products throughout their whole life cycle,” she emphasized.
“The illegal garbage shipments from Canada misrepresented as recyclable plastic scraps, which are still in our country, are a stinking reminder of how disadvantageous and unjust global waste trade is,” she reminded.
According to the “request of alert order” issued on October 25,2018 by Joel Pinawin, Supervisor, Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, Bureau of Customs (BOC) – Cagayan De Oro City, the baled garbage misdeclared as “plastic synthetic flakes” arrived from South Korea on board MV Affluent Ocean on July 21, 2018.
As per the said document, the shipment was consigned to Verde Soko Phil. Industrial Corp. and the “violation committed” was in relation to Section 1400 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act on “Misdeclaration, Misclassification, Undervaluation in Goods Declaration,” one of the crimes punishable under the said law.
As stated by John Simon,Port Collector, Mindanao International Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental: “Kapag plastic flakes, dapat puro plastic flakes ang makikita mo diyan. Pero hinde, nakita naming may kahoy at iba’t ibang materials.”
The incident prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to renew the clarion call it made in 2017 for the government to ban plastic waste imports and for domestic industries requiring plastic scrap inputs to source their supplies locally.
“Barring the importation of plastic garbage should form part of the government’s efforts to improve existing regulations to avoid a repeat of the Canadian garbage saga,” the group said.
“Imposing an import ban on scrap plastics may even prompt local industries to seek ways to retrieve locally-generated plastic discards,” which can help in reducing the amount of plastics leaking to water bodies,” the group added.
The EcoWaste Coalition made the call after China announced that it will prohibit the importation of scrap plastics and other wastes by January 2018 “to protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health.”
The government of Malaysia announced last month that it will phase out in three years the importation of all types of plastic waste following the Chinese ban on waste imports. -end-
https://news.abs-cbn.com/video/news/11/10/18/basura-mula-south-korea-dumating-sa-pilipinas (go to 0:09-0:15 to see the “Request of Alert Order”)
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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. 
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  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.
 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”.
 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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From May 16 to 26, ten GAIA member organizations and partners conducted clean-up and waste and brand audits in 18 states in India. Photo courtesy of V Recycle, Goa.
As the Indian government hosts this year’s World Environment Day under the banner, “Beat Plastic Pollution,” 10 environmental groups across different cities and regions of India—Bengaluru, Chennai, Darjeeling, Dehradun, Delhi, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Kolkata, Leh, Mumbai, Nagaland, Pune, Sikkim, and Trivandrum—conducted unprecedented and coordinated waste and brand audits as a critical first step in identifying top corporate polluters and holding them accountable.
The results of these audits are remarkably similar to audits done in Indonesia and the Philippines, which showed that multilayered plastics accounted for nearly half of branded plastics audited. Across the three countries, a total of 72,721 pieces of branded plastic waste were picked and analyzed, close to 75% of which was food packaging. The rest was household and personal care packaging.
After the 21-day brand audit in India, PepsiCo was found to be the top multinational polluter. Perfetti van Melle and Unilever came in as second and third, respectively. Other multinational corporations in the top 10 list are Coca-Cola, Mondelez, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, and Ferrero SpA. Among Indian companies, Amul, Britannia, ITC, Parle, and Haldiram are in the top 10 list. In audits conducted in multiple cities in the Philippines and Indonesia, Unilever, Procter and Gamble, Nestle, PT Torabika, Colgate-Palmolive, and Coca-Cola are among the top 10 multinational polluters.
“For far too long, multinational companies have been making billions of dollars from selling products that come in single-use low-value plastic packaging with no regard to how the resulting waste is managed,” said Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of the #breakfreefromplastic movement. “The corporations responsible for the proliferation of these single-use, zero-value, and non-recyclable plastics need to own up to the massive pollution associated with their brands and products. They must clean up their act and start investing in alternative packaging materials and delivery systems that are ecologically sustainable for the people and the planet,” he added.
While clean-ups tend to be a feel-good activity that help raise awareness about plastic pollution, they fail to stop plastic pollution or identify and hold accountable those responsible for pollution. “We’re sick and tired of being blamed and of cleaning up the mess produced by corporations. By identifying who’s behind the waste that’s polluting our countries and demanding change, we aim to make clean-ups a thing of the past,” said Pratibha Sharma, GAIA’s India Coordinator.
Waste and brand audit in Delhi. Photo courtesy of Chintan.
Many of the multinational brands identified to be most responsible for plastic pollution through clean-up and audit activities have announced commitments to make their packaging more recyclable. However,recycling alone is not enough to staunch the steady flow of new plastic. Since the 1950s, only 9% of plastic ever made has been recycled, while plastic production is slated to increase by 40% in the next decade.
The plastic recycling trade has allowed countries in the global north to export these problem plastics to poorer countries unequipped to deal with this plastic tsunami, where most end up in landfills or the surrounding environment. “In addition to dealing with huge volumes of disposable plastics, we have to fight unsustainable incineration technologies that are being peddled to us as solutions,” said David Sutasurya, Executive Director of Yayasan Pengembangan Biosains dan Bioteknologi (YPBB).
“We can’t recycle our way out of this problem. Much of the plastic packaging currently on the market contains toxic additives that put recycling workers’ and waste pickers’ health at risk. The only way forward is for major consumer-facing corporations to stop producing single-use products and packaging that are used for seconds and then lead to pollution forever,” Sharma added.
In stark contrast to corporations’ inadequacy in addressing the plastic pollution problem, communities across Asia are demonstrating Zero Waste solutions that can be adopted by cities and regions throughout the world. In San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines, 95% of waste is diverted from landfill through broad community participation, recycling, and composting programs. In Pune, India, a women’s waste-picker collective of over 3,000 recycled 50,000 tons of waste from 600,000 households in 2016. These Zero Waste systems are rooted in social justice and environmental protection.
As corporations continue to show their disregard for public health and the environment by refusing to take accountability for the pollution they cause, communities across Asia are working together to implement solutions that not only reduce pollution, but also develop systems that create jobs, protect public health, the environment, and the climate. They demand that governments and corporates heed the evidence, and step up to their roles, too.
- To view the pan India waste and brand audit report, click here.
- To learn why brand audits are better than clean-ups and what a brand audit looks like, click here.
- Sherma E. Benosa, Communications Officer, GAIA Asia Pacific | firstname.lastname@example.org | +63 9178157570
- Jed Alegado, Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic Asia Pacific | email@example.com
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