A guide to outline and analyse the main provisions of the SUP Directive, providing civil society recommendations for its ambitious and timely implementation, together with examples of best practice.
A shared collaboration by Rethink Plastic alliance and Break Free From Plastic.
Plastic pollution affects even the most remote areas on the planet, with between five and 13 million tonnes of plastic estimated to end up in the ocean every year. With global production of plastics already having increased more than 20 times in the past 50 years and estimated to double again by 2035 and quadruple by 2050, the issue is ever more pressing. Single-use plastics – those designed to be used only once, often for a very short period – make up a significant proportion of these plastics.
The “Directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment” (commonly referred to as the Single-Use Plastics (SUP) Directive) entered into force on 2 July 2019. It aims to tackle pollution from single-use plastics (and fishing gear), as the items most commonly found on European beaches.
This guide outlines the key elements of the SUP Directive and makes some recommendations on how national decision makers can best implement its provisions on single-use plastic.
(A further guide will follow on fishing gear and sea-based plastic pollution.)
Download the report here
Washington DC, United States – A Greenpeace USA report released today, Throwing Away the Future: How Companies Still Have It Wrong on Plastic Pollution “Solutions,” warns consumers to be skeptical of the so-called solutions announced by multinational corporations to tackle the plastic pollution crisis. These false solutions, such as switching to paper or ‘bioplastics’ or embracing chemical recycling, are failing to move us away from single-use packaging and divert attention away from beneficial systems that prioritize refill and reuse.
“Despite the increasing scientific understanding of the irreversible damage plastic can cause to our environment and communities, plastic production is projected to dramatically increase in the coming years,” said Greenpeace USA Senior Research Specialist Ivy Schlegel, who authored the report. “Multinational consumer goods companies continue to promote so-called sustainable alternatives that would put unacceptable pressures on natural resources such as forests and agricultural land, which have already been overexploited. To solve the plastic pollution crisis, companies need to rethink how products are delivered to consumers and invest significantly in reusable and refillable delivery systems.”
Many of the world’s largest global consumer goods companies, including Nestlé, Unilever, PepsiCo, and Procter & Gamble, have signaled their intent to make plastic packaging more recyclable, reusable, compostable, or from recycled content. Meanwhile, they are aiming to continue, and even increase, the manufacturing of products wrapped in single-use plastic or disposable packaging made from other materials.
The report finds that companies are investing in risky emerging chemical conversion “recycling” technologies, which offer false hope and lock in demand for plastic packaging. Companies have obscured the true impacts of packaging behind confusing marketing terms, sustainability language, and industry alliances, hoping that consumers will continue to believe the false promise that plastic can be improved. These misleading claims that a product is compostable, biodegradable, or made from plants, does not mean that product is good for the environment or will reduce plastic pollution.
“Due to public concern about the plastic pollution crisis worldwide, we are witnessing a parade of corporations scrambling to look greener by putting forward false solutions to justify their addiction to single-use packaging,” said Greenpeace USA Global Project Leader Graham Forbes. “Moving to bioplastic, paper, 100% ‘recyclable’ packaging, incineration and chemical recycling all but guarantee this environmental crisis will get worse. And consumers need to be wary of groups with flashy names like the Alliance to End Plastic Waste—comprised of oil companies, plastics producers, and multinational corporations—which have emerged to help maintain the world’s dependence on plastic. We will only see real change when companies like Nestlé, Unilever, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo, which profit from single-use models, end their expanding plastic use and invest heavily in systems that prioritize reuse.”
By the end of 2019, globally, plastic production and burning will emit the carbon equivalent of 189 coal-fired power plants. And it is estimated that by 2050, there will be 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste in natural environments. As companies recognize the threat of plastics, Greenpeace is demanding that they not simply embrace a quick fix that harms the planet elsewhere.
To date, more than 4 million people around the world have demanded that corporations take action to end the plastic pollution crisis by signing Greenpeace’s International petition.
Header photo from Greenpeace.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 25, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will vote on the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act. A group of 38 environmental organizations have banded together to urge the Committee members to reject this flawed piece of legislation and demand meaningful action. (See the joint letter below that was sent to the members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.)
Local governments and businesses across the country are working hard to reduce the use of plastic as evidenced by the hundreds of new local laws that ban plastic bags, straws and polystyrene. The European Union has adopted a new law banning ten major sources of plastic pollution. In stark contrast, The Save Our Seas 2.0 bill, which is strongly supported by the chemical industry, perpetuates the continued production of single-use packaging and meekly attempts to clean up plastic pollution after it has entered rivers, lakes and oceans.
“The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act does virtually nothing to require a reduction in the production of plastics while propping up an anemic approach to recycling. Congress can and must do much better on this urgent matter,” said Judith Enck, former EPA Regional Administrator and founder of Beyond Plastic, adding, “We cannot solve the climate change crisis without addressing the production and disposal of plastics, particularly with the petrochemical industry’s ambitious plans to build new ethylene cracker facilities to turn ethane, a byproduct of hydrofracking, into new plastic. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has been a champion on climate change issues and it is puzzling to see him sponsoring this bill which would lock us in to further fossil fuel production.”
“The continued reliance on single-use plastics has resulted in irreversible consequences for our air, water, and land, not to mention the serious effects on human health. We need to see real change at the federal level to effectively address this crisis by focusing on reducing the overall production and consumption of plastics, not cleaning it up after the fact,” said Shilpi Chhotray, Senior Communications Officer at Break Free From Plastic in Oakland, California.
Until yesterday, the bill promoted risky and false solutions to the plastic pollution crisis including incineration, gasification, and pyrolysis of plastics. Significant contributors to climate change and air pollution, these approaches are harmful to both the environment and public health. Expanding the role of these burning- and chemical-based approaches to the management of our ever-growing plastic pollution crisis will make it even harder to reduce the usage and production of single-use and other unnecessary plastic. It is unclear if the pro-burning provisions will be added back in to the bill after the committee vote.
“Instead of focusing on reducing plastics, the Save Our Seas Act had promoted false solutions like incineration that poison our communities and drive up the greenhouse gas emissions that are killing our oceans. This bill is a swing and a total miss,” said Denise Patel, U.S. and Canada Program Director at Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).
“By focusing on waste management, this legislation fails to address the climate, health, and environmental impacts of fracking, cracking, and manufacturing plastic,” said Steven Feit, a staff attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). “Without dealing with the problem of plastic production, this legislation risks further entrenching a linear system of plastic production which is damaging in all its stages.”
Per a recent report by CIEL and partners, Plastic & Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet, emissions from U.S. plastic incineration in 2015 accounted for an estimated 5.9 million metric tons of CO2e. If growth in plastic production and incineration continue as predicted, the conservative estimate for cumulative greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 will be over 56 gigatons CO2e, or between 10-13 percent of the total remaining carbon budget.
The section of the Senate bill which requires a “Study on Options to ADVANCE Technologies For Converting Plastic Waste to Chemicals, Feedstocks, and Other Products” will not be voted on in the EPW committee on September 25, 2019 but may be back again in the next version of the bill.
“We sincerely hope that incineration, gasification, and pyrolysis options are not falsely presented as solutions to the plastic pollution crisis in any future versions of the bill,” said Chhotray.
Judith Enck, founder of Beyond Plastics – 518.605.1770, JudithEnck at Bennington dot edu
Steven Feit, staff attorney at Center for International Environmental Law – 202.742.5832, sfeit at ciel dot org
#BrandAudit2019 to highlight the power of citizens in holding corporate plastic polluters accountable
(September 21, 2019) — On World Cleanup Day today, Break Free From Plastic, the global movement working to stop plastic pollution for good, is highlighting the power of citizen action to hold corporate polluters accountable for the plastic pollution crisis.
Through its #BrandAudit2019 initiative, members of the #breakfreefromplastic movement have collectively organized over 700 brand audits in 84 countries to identify the brands responsible for the plastic pollution found in worldwide cleanups and record data to hold those brands accountable. These global coordinated citizen actions started during the last week of August and conclude today in celebration of the World Cleanup Day.
“Every time we do clean ups, we are confronted with the pervasive problem of plastic pollution suffocating the planet. By doing brand audits, we are able to expose and challenge the real drivers of this crisis, especially the companies who keep marketing and selling their products in disposable, throwaway packaging. We can’t keep cleaning up after the mess created by these corporations. They need to be held accountable,” said Emma Priestland, #breakfreefromplastic Corporate Campaign Coordinator.
“Corporations must own up to the plastic pollution that they are causing. These corporations have been inundating the Global South market with single-use products and multilayer small size sachets or packets that, according to them, are pro-poor, but can hardly be recycled. However, these corporations are the ones making profits out of this throwaway packaging, while at the same time polluting developing countries and calling us the world’s biggest polluters,” Daru Rini of Indonesia-based Ecoton.
In the recently held Waste Assessment and Brand Audit in Surabaya River, Indonesia, Ecoton has identified plastic residual wastes such as soiled diapers, sachets or packets, and PET bottles as the biggest percentage of plastic waste. These single-use plastics that can neither be recycled nor composted are the biggest threat to achieving Zero Waste, and are to blame for releasing microplastics into the environment.
Indonesia, 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 unrecyclable plastic packaging while multinational corporations’ continued production and use of single-use plastic packaging is escaping scrutiny and accountability.
“Communities around the world have carried the burden of cleaning up the plastic pollution created by corporations for too long. Brand audits transform beach cleanups into something truly powerful—a way to stop plastic pollution at the source by holding corporate polluters accountable. We will only see real change when companies like Nestle, Unilever, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo. end their reliance on fossil fuel-based plastic and throwaway packaging,” said Graham Forbes, Greenpeace USA Global Project Leader.
From North and South America to Europe to Africa and Asia, #breakfreefromplastic has mobilized groups and individuals with a common mission to expose branded trash so that corporations can no longer pass the burden to citizens and governments. This year’s brand audit initiative has mobilized a massive number of volunteers in countries like Taiwan (11,000), Colombia (10,000) China (7 coastal cleanups), Benin (1800), Tanzania (1500), Kenya (700), Ecuador (600 volunteers), Ivory Coast (600 volunteers), India (600), Ghana (500 volunteers), the Philippines (500), and over 200 in Malawi, South Africa, Cameroon, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Brazil as well as many different groups in Nigeria and the Philippines. This year’s number of brand audit actions has tripled compared to last year.
The results of this year’s global brand audits will be revealed and showcased in a report scheduled for release in the coming weeks. Last year, the results were consolidated in a report entitled Branded: In Search of the World’s Top Corporate Polluters vol. 1 which revealed that among the world’s most polluting brands are multinational companies Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Danone, Mondelez International, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Perfetti van Melle, Mars Incorporated, and Colgate-Palmolive.
The top three companies alone (Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé) accounted for 14% of the branded plastic pollution found in the six regions where the audits were conducted. These worldwide coordinated brand audits have been putting much pressure on companies to be responsible and accountable for the “branded pollution” that they have been causing. It has also emboldened the Break Free From Plastic movement to issue a Corporate Leadership Challenge in October 2018 and to reinforce its corporate call on the 3Rs: reveal how much plastic goes into markets and environments each year; reduce the amount of plastic produced and packaged; and reinvent how goods are packaged and delivered.//ends
About BFFP – #breakfreefromplastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, over 1,500 non-governmental organizations and individuals 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.
Notes to Editors:
To view the brand audit toolkit, click here.
To read last year’s Brand Audit report, click here.
Shilpi Chhotray, Senior Communications Officer (Global+U.S.), Break Free From Plastic
firstname.lastname@example.org | +1 703 400 9986
Matt Franklin, Communications Officer for Europe, Break Free From Plastic
email@example.com | +44 7923 373831
Jed Alegado, Communications Officer for Asia Pacific, Break Free from Plastic
firstname.lastname@example.org | +63 917 607 0248
SACRAMENTO— In the final week of session, the California Legislature failed to pass legislation aimed at reducing and recycling single use products and packaging.
Senate Bill 54 (Allen, Skinner, Stern, Wiener) and Assembly Bill 1080 (Gonzalez, Calderon, Friedman, Ting), companion measures known jointly as the California Circular Economy and Pollution Reduction Act, would have required manufacturers and producers to reduce product and packaging waste by 75% by 2030 through source reduction, recycling, and composting.
Despite tremendous support from the public and over 140+ organizations, including leading environmental, public health, labor, local government, waste hauler, faith-based, and business groups, the measures faced significant opposition from the plastics industry and packaging manufacturers. Without assurance of 21 votes in the State Senate and 41 votes in the Assembly, the bills were held over by the authors for consideration when the legislature returns in January.
“This plastic pollution crisis is too pressing to put off for another year, so it’s really disappointing that the opposition’s disingenuous hyperbole was able to sway the legislature,” said Nick Lapis, Director of Advocacy of Californians Against Waste. “I think the public response to these bills has sent a strong signal that Californians want their legislators to take decisive action to turn the tide on plastic pollution.”
The measures were subject to intense and deceptive lobbying tactics by plastic packaging manufacturers and the California Manufacturers and Technology Association (CMTA). Novolex, one of the nation’s largest manufacturers plastic bags and grocery sector packaging, created and funded the misleadingly named “Californians for Recycling and the Environment” which funded a deceptive social media campaign targeting members of the California legislature.
Similarly, CMTA distributed an anonymous Floor Alert to members of the legislature that appeared to convey support for non-controversial recycling related measures for which CMTA had no interest or position, while expressing opposition to SB 54/AB1080.
“It’s telling that Plastics and Packaging Interests felt it necessary to deceive members of the legislature and disguise the source of lobbying efforts and resources in an effort to defeat California’s bold plastic pollution legislation,” said Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste.
The bills also enjoyed engagement from celebrities who chimed in on social media for a final push on Friday, including Jason Momoa, Jeff Goldblum, Kelly Slater, Jeff Bridges, and Alicia Silverstone.
These high-profile environmental bills will be eligible for a vote next year in January when the Legislature reconvenes for the second half of the 2019-2020 legislative sessions.
A number of other recycling related bills did pass the Legislature in the final week and now sit on the governor’s desk awaiting a signature. These include:
- AB 792 (Ting) – Mandates manufacturers to use recycled content in plastic beverage containers, starting with 10% by 2021 and scaling up to 50% by 2030. These standards are the most ambitious in the world, surpassing the European Union’s mandates for recycled content maxing out at 30% by 2028.
- AB 1583 (Eggman) – The California Recycling Market Development Act creates a “Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling” to oversee statewide messaging on recyclability product redesign. The bill also reauthorized the Recycling Market Development Zone (RMDZ) loan program and the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA), which provided sales tax exemptions for recycling and remanufacturing equipment. AB 1583 also eliminated an existing requirement to for all plastic products to have the “chasing arrows” symbol,
- AB 827 (McCarty) – Requires businesses to make composting and recycling bins accessible to customers wherever they have trash bin.
- AB 614 (Eggman) – Expands the Farm to Food Bank tax credit beyond fresh produce to include other staples such as rice, beans, eggs, nuts, and other goods.
- AB 1162 (Kalra) – Prohibits the distribution of single-use toiletries at lodging establishments.
- AB 619 (Chiu) – Allows customers to bring their own reusable foodservice items to restaurants and temporary food facilities.
- AB 187 (C. Garcia) – Updates the Used Mattress Recycling Act to increase consumer access to convenient recycling for used mattresses, including expanding free mattress pickup for consumers that purchases mattress online.
- AB 729 (Chu) – Revises the Carpet Recycling Act to ensure that all funds collected pursuant to the program are used to fund recycling.
These remaining 8 bills must be approved by Governor Newsom before October 13th.
About Californians Against Waste: Founded in 1977, CAW is a non-profit environmental research and advocacy organization that identifies, develops, promotes and monitors policy solutions to pollution and conservation issues that pose threats to public health and the environment. CAW has pioneered and advocated for the implementation of many of the waste reduction and recycling policies and programs that have made California a leader in the nation
For immediate release
Movement seeks to stop #Fracking4Plastics Antwerp expansion
Brussels – A new expansion plan championed by petrochemical company Ineos, which would further deepen the environmentally disastrous connection between the plastics industry and the US fracking boom, is drawing international opposition.
In 2016, Ineos, the largest ethylene producer in Europe, began importing fracked US ethane to Europe to turn it into plastics at its facilities in the UK and Norway. The company wants now to invest €3bn to build a new ethane ‘cracker’ and a propylene producing propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant in the Port of Antwerp. The company has started the first of three intended Environmental Impact Assessment procedures for the project, which would deforest an area of 50-55 hectares.
The Port of Antwerp in Flanders, Belgium is home to the largest petrochemical cluster in Europe, and is now the second largest in the world after Houston, Texas. Satellite data showed last year that Belgium, and especially Antwerp, has some of the most polluted air in the world.
The plan of Ineos has spurred international opposition from 20 groups, NGOs and associations, who have jointly submitted an objection to the Port of Antwerp. Signatories from both sides of the Atlantic include Food & Water Europe, Food & Water Watch, #BreakFreeFromPlastic, Talk Fracking, CIEL (Center for International Environmental Law), WECF (Women Engage for a Common Future), Recycling Netwerk, Frack Free United, Greenpeace UK and Environmental Investigation Agency. This joint international objection comes on top of the ones submitted by Belgian grassroots groups and NGOs (such as Antwerpen Schaliegasvrij, StRaten Generaal and Greenpeace Belgium).
The international objection highlights the need to take the cumulative and transboundary climate and environmental effects into account, paying attention to the significant full lifecycle emissions along the supply chain. It states that no deforestation shall be allowed before any permitting decisions can be made on the ethane cracker and the PDH unit.
The signatories also refer to the ongoing plastic pellet pollution in protected Ramsar and Natura 2000 sites, and the absence of its management in the species and waste management plans.
“Apart from the fact that Ineos relies on climate hostile fracked US gas for their plans, we also see here a clear breach of the existing Natura 2000 legislation:, says Andy Gheorghiu, policy advisor and campaigner for Brussels based NGO Food & Water Europe. “The only way to solve the current massive virgin plastic pollution problem is to rein in the sources of such pollution, and that means stopping these facilities, not expanding them.”
“Ineos is a climate and environmental disaster — benefiting from fracking in the U.S. while planning to bring the dangerous practice to the United Kingdom and mainland Europe to produce more plastic waste,” said Scott Edwards, legal director of Food & Water Watch. “This company’s plans have been and will be met with a passionate, committed grassroots movement on both sides of the Atlantic. The Port of Antwerp must understand the additional high financial risk the relationship with Ineos represents.”
Joe Corré, founder of Talk Fracking, adds: “Every facility, like the proposed one by Ineos, that relies on fracked gas is a direct contribution to a dramatic increase in global warming, a constant production of plastic pollution and an involvement in human rights abuses along the supply chain. Everyone involved must be held responsible”.
“The #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement brings nearly 1,300 organisations around the world together to fight plastic pollution. INEOS are fuelling the plastics expansion with cheap plastics that will pollute our environment, but together we can put a stop to their polluting practices and expansion plans.” concludes Delphine Lévi Alvarès, coordinator of Break Free From Plastic in Europe. “The Port of Antwerp has already a massive transformational task to achieve. The investment plans of Ineos will torpedo every effort towards this necessary and existential process.”
International Objection (EN)
International Objection (NL)
Andy Gheorghiu, policy advisor and campaigner, Food & Water Europe
Mobile: 0049 160 20 30 974