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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Plastics. From the devastating effects of plastic pollution on our oceans, to the news that plastic bottles likely pollute the drinking water they contain, plastic pollution—the theme of this year’s Earth Day—has been a highly visible issue, and we’ve seen some notable progress on fighting the plastic battle.
Pushed by NGOs and government regulations, some companies are changing the way they produce and dispose of their plastic waste. But to really begin reducing the impact of plastics on our environment and health, these efforts will have to grow across the globe. China, which is estimated to be the source of approximately 1/3 of the plastic pollutionclogging our oceans, has taken steps towards remedying its significant impact through a combination of policies and citizen-based action. The China Environment Forum talked to Mao Da, founder of China Zero Waste Alliance and co-founder of Rock Environment and Energy Institute, to learn more about how fighting plastic pollution fits in to China’s plan to be an ecological civilization.
China Environment Forum: What are the largest challenges China faces in regards to plastic pollution, and what approach is China taking to overcome them?
Mao Da: The problem of plastic pollution is huge—it’s not only a waste problem; it’s a natural resource problem, a production and consumption problem, and lifestyle problem. It is a comprehensive issue, and within China the scale of it is huge. It is impossible to face a problem of this scale without adequate high-level national policies that adopt a comprehensive and integrated perspective. We do have some laws and policies related to plastic pollution [the 2008 restrictions on ultra-thin plastic bags, the 2018 plastic waste import ban, the 2017 plan for mandatory garbage sorting in 46 Chinese cities, and developing plans to ban other forms of plastic waste in 2018]. However, these laws are fragmented and they haven’t managed the solid waste problem well, much less plastic waste.
I think China can learn from the European Union, which is currently discussing a general policy on plastic waste. Since plastic is a cross-boundary and cross-sector issue, there is no single law, policy, or regulation pointed at one facet that can cope with this huge problem, so we similarly need a national, high-level, general policy to deal with plastic pollution. Such a policy needs to contain basic principles for dealing with plastic pollution, and these principles should be similar to those of the EU, which has a hierarchy principle system that has been adopted by many other countries as well as the UN system.
This hierarchy puts source prevention as a priority, which means we need to avoid unnecessary production of plastic products. Following that is separation and recycling, and finally disposal at the bottom.
In addition to a hierarchy, China needs an overall goal—that by a certain year we will reduce our plastic waste generation and use of natural resources to produce plastic by a certain amount.
China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) just started the process to create a national plastic waste pollution control policy in January 2018. They established three main principles for the future policies, including:
- Limiting or banning some types of plastic products;
- Substituting some plastic products with more sustainable products; and,
- Regulating plastic waste recycling and disposal.
They reached out to the public for recommendations on this process, and China Zero Waste Alliance contributed advice. To a large extent, China Zero Waste Alliance agrees with NDRC’s strategy, but we also emphasize eco-design of products that are better suited for recycling and pose less harm to environmental health. We had five main suggestions regarding China’s policy planning, including:
- the need for a comprehensive national policy;
- a phase-out of problematic plastic products (such as plastic bags, Styrofoam, microbeads, and plastic straws);
- a cautious approach towards integrating biomass-based plastics;
- more financial support or incentives to support recycling; and,
- we opposed the current renewable energy subsidy that supports burning plastic waste; this should be limited to biomass burning, not plastics.
CEF: China recently banned plastic waste imports, why? How do you think this will impact plastic waste around the world?
MD: We see the plastic ban as a positive because the basic rationale behind it is to protect the environment and peoples’ health. We have suffered many years from importing the dirtiest plastic waste. The government wants to promote domestic plastic recycling and waste separation, but if the recycling industry relies on imports there’s no incentive for them to recycle domestic waste. I know there is a global impact in the short term, creating some problem such as piles of plastic waste that cannot be shipped elsewhere to be taken care of, and China’s plastic recycling industry is struggling to do business. However, the immediate benefit is that we reduce our pollution from secondary waste recycling. Beyond this, in the long term this policy pushes every country and region to create their own recycling capacity, and only when they have their own capacity will they implement stricter regulations on the generation of plastic waste, separation, and control of the recycling process. There will no longer be a way to ship waste away and these countries will now need to care more about their environment when they have to handle the recycling themselves.
CEF: How can international coalitions come together to work towards reducing plastic pollution?
MD: There are many things to be done across three levels—the government, corporate, and NGOs. On the government level, the most important thing is to discuss an international legally binding treaty on curbing plastic pollution. Additionally, governments should share more information and data on plastic pollution, and based on that, discuss effective ways to address the problem. On the corporate level there need to be initiatives to get multinational corporations that are plastic producers or users of plastic packaging to work together to standardize plastic material use and plastic separation and recycling. Finally, NGOs are already working together to push the government and companies to do their job, while also approaching normal citizens to be more aware of this issue. For example, China Zero Waste Alliance is part of an international network, Break Free From Plastic, and we have thus developed our three pillars of action:
- Change the narrative.
- Build zero waste city models globally.
- Target major “fast consumer” products to reduce their plastic waste.
Mao Da is the founder of China Zero Waste Alliance and co-founder of Rock Environment and Energy Institute.
Sources: BBC, Break Free From Plastic, CCICED, China Daily, China Zero Waste Alliance, European Commission, Orb Media, Rock Environment and Energy Institute, Straits Times, South China Morning Post, WTO, Zero Waste Europe
Image Credit: Waste Hierarchy courtesy of Wikimedia.
Waste Container courtesy of Pixabay.
Written by By Lyssa Freese. Interview originally appeared at https://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2018/04/default-post-3/
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