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California Assembly Approves Ambitious Measure to Cut Packaging and Plastic Waste by 75% by 2030

California Assembly Approves Ambitious Measure to Cut Packaging and Plastic Waste by 75% by 2030

Photo by Rick Loomis, Los Angeles Times.

Just one day after Senate passes companion measure, AB 1080 approved to phase out top trash items contributing to global pollution crisis

SACRAMENTO–Acknowledging the worldwide environmental devastation and health problems wrought by plastic and non-recycled trash, both houses of the California State Legislature have now approved identical first-of-their-kind measures to dramatically reduce plastic and packaging waste and jumpstart the in-state clean recycling economy.

Senate Bill 54 (Allen) and Assembly Bill 1080 (Gonzalez), together known as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, attack the trash crisis at both ends — both before a product is ever created or purchased, and after a single-use item is ready for disposal.  The measures help businesses transition from single-use plastic containers to reusable or compostable packaging with reasonable timelines to make changes in order to achieve an overall reduction of 75 percent by the year 2030. The measures also call for incentives for in-state manufacturing using recycled materials.  Together, these requirements will cut back on the amount and type of trash going into landfills and litter in neighborhoods, waterways, and the ocean, which will reduce costs to taxpayers for disposal and clean-up.

By increasing recycling rates and incentivizing the in-state manufacture of goods using recycled materials, the Act will end California’s existing reliance on other countries to take its waste, and it will boost the state economy.  Currently, California waste and recycling industries are struggling to adapt to China’s 2017 “National Sword” policy to stop accepting other nations’ trash. This has resulted in Californians’ garbage and recyclables piling up at local waste facilities, going into landfills, or being shipped to other countries in Asia that cannot process the sheer amount of trash coming to them.  California’s local governments — and, therefore, ratepayers — are experiencing increased costs as a result. But if fully implemented, the Act’s 75 percent recycling rate will not only help reduce California’s need to ship meaningful quantities of waste out-of-state, it is expected to double the existing 125,000 California jobs in recycling and manufacturing.

Plastic and single-use packaging contribute to a variety of environmental ills.  As plastic breaks down in the environment, it becomes microplastic particles that leach chemicals into waterways and ocean environments, or is eaten by wildlife and marine creatures.  Further, single-use items don’t simply cause pollution; they also contribute to the climate crisis. Plastic items, in particular, are derived from fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases as they break down.  Reducing California’s reliance on these items is critical for the state to meet its climate and waste diversion commitments.

Plastic and single-use items also contaminate drinking water sources, food supplies, and even air.  Human exposure to plastic and its associated toxins has been linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other serious health problems.

The measures are supported by a broad coalition of environmental organizations, health advocates, green businesses, local governments, and labor.  AB 1080 now goes to the State Senate, while SB 54 heads to the State Assembly.

For more information about the measures, see the bill text or view the fact sheet here.

What others are saying about the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act:

Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), joint author of SB 54 and co-author of companion measure AB 1080: “We need to phase out single-use plastics as quickly as possible.  These plastics are ruining entire ecosystems, poisoning our oceans and waterways, and killing wildlife. It’s time to transition to better alternatives and to send a powerful signal to industry to innovate and to create more sustainable products.”

Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), joint author of AB 1080 and principal co-author of SB 54: “Our decades of overusing non-recyclable and non-compostable single-use products has set the stage for what could be one of the greatest man-made ecological and environmental crises in history. The longer we go without taking action, the higher the costs to our environment, animal life, public health, and our economy. These bills are an important step forward and a direly-needed investment in the health of our planet.”

Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), joint author of AB 1080:  “Tossing our single-use plastics in recycling bins is no longer good enough. If we don’t step up and change our ways, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050. California can turn an environmental crisis around with bold plastic reduction policies like this one. Companies must re-use materials they’ve already made.”

Dianna Cohen, Co-Founder and CEO, Plastic Pollution Coalition: “Plastic Pollution Coalition urges your support of this legislation to dramatically reduce plastic and packaging waste in California. It’s time for California to take the next step towards Zero Waste to protect human and animal health, waterways, oceans, and our environment for years to come.”

Dan Jacobson, Director, Environment California (djacobson@environmentcalifornia.org): “Nothing we use for a few minutes should end up polluting our environment for thousands of years. The time of the single-use plastic container needs to go the way of the dinosaur.”

Geoff Shester, California Campaign Director and Senior Scientist, Oceana: “Solving the plastics problem in our oceans will take a concerted effort from the companies that are producing and selling these materials. This legislation will create the framework desperately needed to turn the tide on our single-use plastics problem. We applaud these state leaders and urge that these bills remain strong in their commitment to meaningfully and drastically reduce the impacts of single-use products. As the fifth-largest economy in the world, California has the opportunity to remain an environmental leader on responsible plastics policy and inspire national and international change.”

Stiv Wilson, Campaigns Director, The Story of Stuff Project (Stiv@storyofstuff.org): “This represents California drawing a line in the sand on plastic pollution. As plastic production skyrockets, we’re witnessing the growing environmental and financial cost of attempting to manage the unmanageable. Without a policy like this, we won’t address the scale of the problem. This is California making a quantum leap in the fight against plastic pollution.”

Kathryn Phillips, Director, Sierra Club California (kathryn.phillips@sierraclub.org):  “We are in the midst of a global health crisis. Single-use packaging and product waste pollutes our environment and harms humans and wildlife. California must dramatically reduce the amount of single-use packaging and products. We must also ensure that these products are reusable, recyclable or compostable. Sierra Club California thanks the legislators who have taken a bold step forward in addressing this urgent crisis.”

Katherine O’Dea, Executive Director, Save Our Shores (katherine@saveourshores.org): “Comprehensive legislation like this is exactly what is needed to address the plastic pollution crisis we have reached. The framework it puts in place provides the kind of flexibility that is required to address various single use packaging formats and some of the most ubiquitous plastic products with a best approach for each. At the same time, the legislation mandates significant source reduction while driving recycling rates to levels we should have been able to achieve voluntarily but have failed to for decades. Save Our Shores applauds our state legislators for taking bold action.”

Shilpi Chhotray, Senior Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic (shilpi@breakfreefromplastic.org): “China may have set the trend of refusing foreign plastic waste but now other countries are following suit, including Malaysia, Thailand, and India. It’s time for California to set the gold standard for the US in reducing the overall global production and consumption of plastics and redesign for their reuse. This type of systemic legislation is crucially needed to address the global plastic pollution crisis.”

Christopher Chin, Executive Director, The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education (COARE) (media@coare.org): “Waste management is an important part of the conversation, but it cannot effectively address the deluge of plastic pollution we all face.  We cannot recycle our way out of this problem, and it is imperative that we, as a society, support upstream solutions considering the full lifecycle of plastics – including its production and consumption.  This legislation begins providing the framework for an approach that the world wants, and that the world so desperately needs.”

Sophie Haddad, State Board Chair, CALPIRG Students (shaddad@ucsd.edu): “As students and young people, we are the generation who will have to face the worst levels of ocean pollution. We know that if we don’t act now, our environment will be even more devastated by trash. We have to do everything we can to stop using single-use plastics, and SB 54 and AB 1080 are great steps in the right direction.”

Marce Gutiérrez-Graudiņš, Founder and Executive Director – AZUL (media@azul.org): “From production to disposal, single-use plastic and packaging waste negatively affect humans, wildlife and the environment, with a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities. This legislation is a strong step towards remedying this environmental justice crisis. Mil Gracias to supporting legislators for their strong leadership!”

Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director of National Stewardship Action Council (heidi@nsaction.us): “Producers of wasteful single-use products need to rethink their design and share in the responsibility for those end of life costs previously externalized onto the public sector and the environment do achieve a circular economy.  We need well-designed durable, reusable products and the product producers are the only ones who can change that and why we support SB 54/AB 1080.”

Angela Howe, Legal Director, Surfrider Foundation (ahowe@surfrider.org): “Surfrider Foundation stands in strong support of the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, which will help Californians rise above plastics and begin to free our ocean of the plague of plastic pollution.  We applaud the state legislature for taking this critical step to usher in forward thinking policy and pave the way toward zero waste.”

Anu Natarajan, Legislative Affairs Manager, Stopwaste (ANatarajan@stopwaste.org): “StopWaste is pleased to support SB 54 and AB 1080 because these bills constitute meaningful progress toward managing packaging and plastic waste, which are both among StopWaste’s top priorities.”

Nick Lapis, Director of Advocacy, Californians Against Waste (nicklapis@cawrecycles.org): “These monumental bipartisan votes on SB 54 and AB 1080 show that California will continue to lead on tackling environmental pollution that our federal government actively ignores. We simply can’t continue to trash our planet.”

Contact: Arianna Smith
arianna@ariannazsmith.com
916.542.8303

Groups say goodbye to Canada waste, urge PH government to ban all waste imports immediately

Groups say goodbye to Canada waste, urge PH government to ban all waste imports immediately

30 May 2019, the Philippines – As the Philippines bid goodbye to the Canadian waste, six years after it was discovered in Philippine ports, environmental groups are calling on the Philippine government to ban all waste imports in the Philippines and ratify the Basel Ban Amendment. This follows the discovery of several other waste shipments to the Philippines from South Korea in 2018 and Australia and Hong Kong, which were divulged last week.

From 2013 to 2014, 103 shipping containers from Canada were intercepted in the Port of Manila containing mixed wastes,  including non-recyclable plastic, waste paper, household waste, electronic wastes, and used adult diapers. These materials are classified as hazardous, based on the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste and Control Act of 1990 (Republic Act 6969). Moreover, the importation of the shipment violates the Basel Convention, as the contents of the cargo vans were misdeclared as ‘recyclable’.

While the return of Canada’s waste is a positive development, only a little more than half (69 containers) of the original waste is being shipped back; 26 containers were already landfilled in the Philippines at the time when Canada disowned responsibility for the shipment; the other eight containers were also disposed of locally.

Aside from the controversial Canadian waste, shipments containing garbage from South Korea were discovered in October 2018. After campaigns from environmental groups in both the Philippines and South Korea, the Philippine government and its South Korean counterparts agreed to ship back part of the waste shipment in January 2019. The remaining 5,176.9 metric tonnes of waste are still in Misamis Oriental, awaiting repatriation.

In May 2019, the entry of wastes coming from Australia and Hong Kong in Mindanao Container Terminal became public.

Ever since China closed its doors to waste importation in January 2018, Southeast Asian countries have been the destination of waste exports from developed countries . A report from Greenpeace revealed that the majority of ‘mixed recyclable plastics’ previously destined to China are being redirected to countries in the region with weak environmental regulations. [1]

Local NGO groups, including Ecowaste Coalition, Greenpeace Philippines, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, BAN Toxics, and the global Break Free from Plastic movement, reiterated the call for the Philippine government to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, which prohibits the import of all waste for any reason, including “recycling”.

The groups are also calling on the Philippine government to ban all waste shipments from entering the Philippines, and to stand up for Philippine sovereignty by telling developed countries that the Philippines is not a garbage dump.

The groups also launched an online petition [2] calling on President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a ban on the entry of wastes to the Philippines and to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment. Ecowaste Coalition called on all Filipinos to ‘raise the flag’ on social media to make a strong and collective stance against the entry of illegal waste shipment in the country. [3]

Notes to the editor:

[1] Data from global plastic waste trade 2016-2018 and the offshore impact of China’s foreign waste import ban. http://www.greenpeace.org/eastasia/Global/eastasia/publications/campaigns/toxics/GPEA%20Plastic%20waste%20trade%20-%20research%20briefing-v2.pdf

[2] Ban entry of foreign waste to the Philippines. https://act.gp/banforeignwaste

[3] Ecowaste Coalition encourages Filipinos to raise the flag vs onslaught of foreign waste. http://www.ecowastecoalition.org/2019/05/27/ecowaste-encourages-filipinos-to-raise-the-flag-vs-onslaught-of-foreign-waste/

Media contacts:

Angelica Carballo Pago, Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines
angelica.pago@greenpeace.org | (+63) 949 889 1332

Jed Alegado, Break Free from Plastic
jed@breakfreefromplastic.org | (+63) 917 607 0248

Thony Dizon, Ecowaste Coalition
thony.dizon24@yahoo.com | (+63) 917-8364725

Sonia Astudillo, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
sonia@no-burn.org  | (+63) 917-5969286

Dawn Po Quimque, BAN Toxics
dawn@bantoxics.org | (+63) 929 313 0488

STATEMENT FROM ORGANIZATIONS ON THE REPATRIATION OF THE CANADIAN WASTE

“Today marks a high point in our nation’s history as we get rid of the illegal waste shipments from Canada after six exasperating years of struggle for environmental justice and the rule of law.  As the 69 shipping containers set sail for home, we say with conviction that the Philippines is not the world’s dumpsite. We need to learn from this prolonged ordeal and make sure it is never repeated. Never again shall we allow other countries to trash our dignity, our people’s health and the environment.  

“This ordeal has taught us of the urgency of correcting outmoded regulations allowing waste imports into the country under the guise of recycling. We need to close this ghastly loophole that is facilitating illegal waste traffic and turning our country into a dumping ground for plastic, electronic and hazardous wastes, which should be safely recycled, treated or disposed of in the country where such wastes were generated.” – Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, Ecowaste Coalition

“Canada’s waste shipment to the Philippines has put in the spotlight how developed countries are exploiting weak national regulations and loopholes in international conventions in order to dump waste they can’t process in poor countries. The fact that it took five years before Canada acknowledged responsibility for the shipment underlines the helplessness of developed countries when governments of importing countries do not cooperate.

“Imposing a ban to close our doors to all waste shipments and ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment will send a strong message that the Philippines is not a dumping ground. However we also need to plug internal holes. The waste shipments that have been exposed in recent years are likely only the tip of the iceberg. It is highly probable that many more waste shipments have entered the country undetected, or under false declarations or questionable circumstances. Unless the holes in the system that allow this to happen–whether faulty regulations, inadequate monitoring, or corruption–are plugged, we will continue to be at the receiving end of waste shipments–and worse, unable to hold responsible countries and parties accountable.” – Lea Guerrero, Country Director, Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines

“While this is a momentous moment for the Filipino people, still, the country faces a number of issues related to hazardous waste shipments. As long as there’s nothing that protects the developing countries in becoming a dumping ground for unwanted toxic waste and garbage, we remain vigilant, and will continue to call out the government for immediate actions.

“We appeal to President Duterte, to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment immediately. Put the responsibility of policing hazardous waste exporters to the country of export, such as Canada, Hong Kong, and Australia. We need to be smart in addressing the problem, and the Basel Ban Amendment is a valuable tool towards protecting a significant portion of the population who are at risk by toxic waste dumping.” – Reynaldo San Juan, Jr., Deputy Executive Director, BAN Toxics

“While we laud the move of the Canadian government in finally acting on their illegal waste shipments in the Philippines, we are also wary about the recent illegal waste shipments  from other developed countries to the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia. Asia is not the developed countries’ dumping ground! The Basel Convention mandates countries to deal with their plastic waste in their own backyards. Since the Basel Convention amendment takes effect next year, we are challenging governments in Asia to take immediate measures in safeguarding their territories.”  – Jed Alegado, Communications Officer for Asia-Pacific, Break Free from Plastic

“We have nothing else to blame but DENR for enabling these countries to dump their waste in our ports. By drafting guidelines on waste incineration, other countries are now more attracted to have their garbage burnt in our country.” – Glenn Ymata, Senior Campaign Manager, No Burn Pilipinas

 

California Senate Approves Ambitious Measure to Cut Packaging and Plastic Waste by 75% by 2030

California Senate Approves Ambitious Measure to Cut Packaging and Plastic Waste by 75% by 2030

SB 54 would phase out top trash items that contribute to the global pollution crisis through source reduction and improved recycling

SACRAMENTO–Amidst growing awareness of worldwide environmental devastation and health problems wrought by plastic and non-recycled trash, the California State Senate has approved first-of-its-kind legislation to dramatically reduce plastic and packaging waste and jumpstart the in-state clean recycling economy.

Senate Bill 54 (Allen), known as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, attacks the trash crisis at both ends — both before a product is ever created or purchased, and after a single-use item is ready for disposal.  The measure helps businesses transition from single-use plastic containers to reusable or compostable packaging with reasonable timelines to make changes in order to achieve an overall reduction of 75 percent by the year 2030. The measure also calls for incentives for in-state manufacturing using recycled materials.  Together, these requirements will cut back on the amount and type of trash going into landfills and litter in neighborhoods, waterways, and the ocean, which will reduce costs to taxpayers for disposal and clean-up.

By increasing recycling rates and incentivizing the in-state manufacture of goods using recycled materials, the Act will end California’s existing reliance on other countries to take its waste, and it will boost the state economy.  Currently, California waste and recycling industries are struggling to adapt to China’s 2017 “National Sword” policy to stop accepting other nations’ trash. This has resulted in Californians’ garbage and recyclables piling up at local waste facilities, going into landfills, or being shipped to other countries in Asia that cannot process the sheer amount of trash coming to them.  California’s local governments — and, therefore, ratepayers — are experiencing increased costs as a result. But if fully implemented, the Act’s 75 percent recycling rate will not only help reduce California’s need to ship meaningful quantities of waste out-of-state, it is expected to double the existing 125,000 California jobs in recycling and manufacturing.

Plastic and single-use packaging contribute to a variety of environmental ills.  As plastic breaks down in the environment, it becomes microplastic particles that leach chemicals into waterways and ocean environments, or is eaten by wildlife and marine creatures.  Further, single-use items don’t simply cause pollution; they also contribute to the climate crisis. Plastic items, in particular, are derived from fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases as they break down.  Reducing California’s reliance on these items is critical for the state to meet its climate and waste diversion commitments.

Plastic and single-use items also contaminate drinking water sources, food supplies, and even air.  Human exposure to plastic and its associated toxins has been linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other serious health problems.

The measure is supported by a broad coalition of environmental organizations, health advocates, green businesses, local governments, and labor.  It now goes to the State Assembly. The identical companion measure, Assembly Bill 1080 (Gonzalez), currently awaits a vote on the Assembly floor.

For more information about the measure, see the bill text or view the fact sheet here.

What others are saying about the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act:

Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), joint author of SB 54 and co-author of companion measure AB 1080: “We need to phase out single-use plastics as quickly as possible.  These plastics are ruining entire ecosystems, poisoning our oceans and waterways, and killing wildlife. It’s time to transition to better alternatives and to send a powerful signal to industry to innovate and to create more sustainable products.”

Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), joint author of AB 1080 and principal co-author of SB 54: “Our decades of overusing non-recyclable and non-compostable single-use products has set the stage for what could be one of the greatest man-made ecological and environmental crises in history. The longer we go without taking action, the higher the costs to our environment, animal life, public health, and our economy. These bills are an important step forward and a direly-needed investment in the health of our planet.”

Dianna Cohen, Co-Founder and CEO, Plastic Pollution Coalition: “Plastic Pollution Coalition urges your support of this legislation to dramatically reduce plastic and packaging waste in California. It’s time for California to take the next step towards Zero Waste to protect human and animal health, waterways, oceans, and our environment for years to come.”

Dan Jacobson, Director, Environment California (djacobson@environmentcalifornia.org): “Nothing we use for a few minutes should end up polluting our environment for thousands of years. The time of the single-use plastic container needs to go the way of the dinosaur.”

Geoff Shester, California Campaign Director and Senior Scientist, Oceana: “Solving the plastics problem in our oceans will take a concerted effort from the companies that are producing and selling these materials. This legislation will create the framework desperately needed to turn the tide on our single-use plastics problem. We applaud these state leaders and urge that these bills remain strong in their commitment to meaningfully and drastically reduce the impacts of single-use products. As the fifth-largest economy in the world, California has the opportunity to remain an environmental leader on responsible plastics policy and inspire national and international change.”

Stiv Wilson, Campaigns Director, The Story of Stuff Project (Stiv@storyofstuff.org): “This represents California drawing a line in the sand on plastic pollution. As plastic production skyrockets, we’re witnessing the growing environmental and financial cost of attempting to manage the unmanageable. Without a policy like this, we won’t address the scale of the problem. This is California making a quantum leap in the fight against plastic pollution.”

Kathryn Phillips, Director, Sierra Club California (kathryn.phillips@sierraclub.org):  “We are in the midst of a global health crisis. Single-use packaging and product waste pollutes our environment and harms humans and wildlife. California must dramatically reduce the amount of single-use packaging and products. We must also ensure that these products are reusable, recyclable or compostable. Sierra Club California thanks the legislators who have taken a bold step forward in addressing this urgent crisis.”

Katherine O’Dea, Executive Director, Save Our Shores (katherine@saveourshores.org):

“Comprehensive legislation like this is exactly what is needed to address the plastic pollution crisis we have reached. The framework it puts in place provides the kind of flexibility that is required to address various single use packaging formats and some of the most ubiquitous plastic products with a best approach for each. At the same time, the legislation mandates significant source reduction while driving recycling rates to levels we should have been able to achieve voluntarily but have failed to for decades. Save Our Shores applauds our state legislators for taking bold action.”

Shilpi Chhotray, Senior Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic (shilpi@breakfreefromplastic.org): “China may have set the trend of refusing foreign plastic waste but now other countries are following suit, including Malaysia, Thailand, and India. It’s time for California to set the gold standard for the US in reducing the overall global production and consumption of plastics and redesign for their reuse. This type of systemic legislation is crucially needed to address the global plastic pollution crisis.”

Christopher Chin, Executive Director, The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education (COARE) (media@coare.org): “Waste management is an important part of the conversation, but it cannot effectively address the deluge of plastic pollution we all face.  We cannot recycle our way out of this problem, and it is imperative that we, as a society, support upstream solutions considering the full lifecycle of plastics – including its production and consumption.  This legislation begins providing the framework for an approach that the world wants, and that the world so desperately needs.”

Sophie Haddad, State Board Chair, CALPIRG Students (shaddad@ucsd.edu): “As students and young people, we are the generation who will have to face the worst levels of ocean pollution. We know that if we don’t act now, our environment will be even more devastated by trash. We have to do everything we can to stop using single-use plastics, and SB 54 and AB 1080 are great steps in the right direction.”

Marce Gutiérrez-Graudiņš, Founder and Executive Director – AZUL (media@azul.org): “From production to disposal, single-use plastic and packaging waste negatively affect humans, wildlife and the environment, with a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities. This legislation is a strong step towards remedying this environmental justice crisis. Mil Gracias to supporting legislators for their strong leadership!”

Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director of National Stewardship Action Council (heidi@nsaction.us): “Producers of wasteful single-use products need to rethink their design and share in the responsibility for those end of life costs previously externalized onto the public sector and the environment do achieve a circular economy.  We need well-designed durable, reusable products and the product producers are the only ones who can change that and why we support SB 54/AB 1080.”

Angela Howe, Legal Director, Surfrider Foundation (ahowe@surfrider.org): “Surfrider Foundation stands in strong support of the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, which will help Californians rise above plastics and begin to free our ocean of the plague of plastic pollution.  We applaud the state legislature for taking this critical step to usher in forward thinking policy and pave the way toward zero waste.”

Green groups call on Southeast Asian governments to resist waste imports

Green groups call on Southeast Asian governments to resist waste imports

MANILA, Philippines (May 24, 2019) — Southeast Asian environmental non-governmental organizations are calling on their respective governments to strictly enforce bans on illegally shipped wastes from developed countries.

“The recent news about waste shipments being discovered at the shores of the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia is alarming. When the wealthy nations clean up, it should not have to be at the expense of the developing world. Governments in Asia, which has become the world’s new dumpsite, must strictly guard their territories against waste smuggling from richer countries,” said Beau Baconguis, Plastics Campaigner of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific and Break Free From Plastic Asia Pacific coordinator.

Early this year, waste shipments from Australia arrived at the Mindanao International Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental in Southern Philippines. These were declared as municipal waste/processed engineered fuel (PEF) intended for the cement company Holcim. The news of the shipment broke out as the Philippine government is demanding the Canadian government to take back 69 containers of illegally shipped wastes found in the Manila port in 2013 and 2014.

“The entry into our country of residual wastes generated by Australia’s commercial, industrial, and construction sectors in the form of cement kiln fuels looks like a devious disposal scheme.  Described as ‘municipal waste’ in the shipment declaration, Australia is able to get rid of its residual wastes in a profitable way by converting and relabeling them as processed engineered fuel for export to developing countries like ours. We question this latest scheme of foreign waste disposal,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of Ecowaste Coalition.

Meanwhile, early this year, at least 60 shipping containers carrying hazardous and toxic wastes have been piling up at the Batu Ampar port in Batam, Riau Island, in Indonesia for five months. Earlier, a shipment containing waste from foreign countries was discovered in Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta.

“This has to stop. It is the height of hypocrisy for the richer countries to be presenting themselves to the world as having good waste management system, while at the same time, polluting us and calling us the world’s biggest polluters. Shame on them! Come clean up your mess and stop producing so much waste,” said Yuyun Ismawati, co-founder of BaliFokus/Nexus3.

Earlier this week, news outlets reported that the Malaysian government has already sent back to Spain five containers of contaminated plastic waste that was smuggled into the country. According to the United Nations’ trade database and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Malaysia’s imports of plastic waste from its 10 biggest source-countries jumped to 456,000 tons between January and July 2018, versus 316,600 tons purchased in all of 2017 and 168,500 tons in 2016.

Mageswari Sangalingaram of the Consumers Association of Penang lauds the move of the government of Malaysia to resist the waste shipments.

“As the Malaysian government is getting stringent in enforcing restrictions of plastic waste imports by sending back mixed, contaminated and falsely declared waste consignment to the country of origin, we are very concerned that unscrupulous exporters are now eyeing other countries and ports of entry to dump their waste. The enforcement agencies must now step up their efforts to ensure that our countries do not become dumping grounds for the developed nations,” she said.

Countries in Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand have been at the receiving end of illegally shipped wastes from developed countries since China banned plastic waste importation in 2018. Because of this, Malaysian and Thai governments started imposing restrictions in mid-2018.

A recent  report by GAIA titled “Discarded: Communities on the Frontlines of the Global Plastic Crisis” shows the impacts of plastic waste being dumped into developing countries. The influx of the plastic waste in these countries has resulted in contaminated water, crop death, and respiratory illnesses caused by inhaling toxic fumes from burned plastic.

In the recently held Basel Convention, an international treaty on dealing with hazardous waste, 187 countries agreed to Norway’s proposal of extending the “prior informed consent” system to plastic waste. The agreement requires exporters to seek the permission from destination countries before it can ship in its hazardous waste to that country. The said agreement is set to take effect after a year.

“The Basel Convention mandates countries to deal with their plastic waste problem in their own backyards instead of passing the burden on to other countries. Until the amendment takes effect in 2020, developing countries are on their own in safeguarding their territories,” Baconguis said.

Note to the Editor:

In order to make cement, high-temperature kilns are needed. Traditionally, coal is used in these kilns, but in the past two decades, many “alternative fuels” have been used. The term “alternative fuel” has often been used to disguise the fact that this “fuel” is actually waste, including tires, plastics, and petrochemical waste. Burning waste alongside coal allows cement kilns to use loopholes in emission regulations. In some instances, the kilns actually receive subsidies or carbon credits for replacing some coal with waste—in spite of their toxic impact.

Source: https://www.no-burn.org/cement/

CONTACTS

Jed Alegado, Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic
jed@breakfreefromplastic.org | +63 917-6070248

 

Sherma Benosa, Communications Officer, GAIA Asia Pacific

sherma@no-burn.org | +63 917-8157570

 

Sonia Astudillo, Communications Officer, GAIA Asia Pacific

sonia@no-burn.org | +63 917-5969286

 

College of the Atlantic Commits to Campus Wide Plastic Elimination Goal

College of the Atlantic Commits to Campus Wide Plastic Elimination Goal

Bar Harbor, ME. The College of the Atlantic is the first college campus in the country to sign onto the “Break Free From Plastic Campus Pledge” – a campus-wide commitment to eliminate all single-use disposable plastics. With COA’s President signing the pledge last week, COA has committed to “Break Free From Plastic” by 2025. This initiative was led by the student group [Earth] and supported by the non-profit the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN). The “Break Free From Plastic” campus pledge and toolkit specifically addresses accessibility and inclusivity concerns, and generates a framework for college campuses (and other institutions) to develop long-term systemic solutions to issues around
waste and disposable consumption.

PLAN is a non-profit that cultivates, educates, and inspires students leaders to tackle issues around waste and unsustainable systems on their campus. The campus pledge was built in coalition with the international Break Free From Plastic Movement and can be found on PLAN’s website among many
other tools and resources to assist students looking to get involved in the student led zero waste movement.

[Earth] started as a logo developed by a group of College of the Atlantic students preparing to attend the UN Climate Negotiations in Nairobi in 2006. From there it has grown into an internationally recognized symbol representing the political mess we’re in. We believe international cooperation is not only possible, but necessary if we are to address our most pressing problems. Any lasting solution needs to include as many people as possible.

Darron Collins ’92, President of COA, Anna Mae Sheehan ’22 and Isidora Muñoz ’22, members of [Earth]

“It’s become clear to many people by now that plastics are one of humanity’s ‘wicked problems,’ and while the actions of one small college aren’t going to solve that problem, what we are doing with the signing of this pledge is a very real start–one we hope that other organisations will take notice of and consider following along.” – Darron Collins ’92, president of COA.

“The PLAN pledge will be an important keystone in College of the Atlantic’s commitment to diverting 90% of campus associated discarded resources from landfill and incineration by 2025” – Eleanor White ’22, co-chair of the Campus Committee for Sustainability

“By signing PLANs #BreakFreeFromPlastic pledge, we hope to commit College of the Atlantic to follow through on the discarded resource policies that we have in place and join a growing network of campuses that are moving away from single-use plastics” – Anna Mae Sheehan ’22, member of [Earth]

For More Information Contact
Faye Christoforo, PLAN Co-Director: 978-269-4368, faye@postlandfill.org

 

Sweeping New Report on Global Environmental Impact of Plastics Reveals Severe Damage to Climate

Sweeping New Report on Global Environmental Impact of Plastics Reveals Severe Damage to Climate

Study Recommends Solutions, Including Phasing Out Single-Use Plastics

WASHINGTON, DC — In 2019 alone, the production and incineration of plastic will add more than 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere—equal to the pollution from 189 new coal-fired power plants, according to a new report, Plastic & Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet. The rapid global growth of the plastic industry—fueled by cheap natural gas from hydraulic fracturing—is not only destroying the environment and endangering human health but also undermining efforts to reduce carbon pollution and prevent climate catastrophe.

This is the conclusion of a sweeping new study of the global environmental impact of the plastic industry by the Center for International Environmental Law, Environmental Integrity Project, FracTracker Alliance, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, 5 Gyres, and Break Free From Plastic.

The new report gathers research on the greenhouse gas emissions of plastic at each stage of the plastic lifecycle—from its birth as fossil fuels through refining and manufacture to the massive emissions at (and after) plastic’s useful life ends—to create the most comprehensive review to date of the climate impacts of plastic.

With the ongoing, rapid expansion of the plastic and petrochemical industries, the climate impacts of plastic are poised to accelerate dramatically in the coming decade, threatening the ability of the global community to keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C degrees. If plastic production and use grow as currently planned, by 2030, emissions could reach 1.34 gigatons per year—equivalent to the emissions released by more than 295 500-megawatt coal power plants. By 2050, the production and disposal of plastic could generate 56 gigatons of emissions, as much as 14 percent of the earth’s entire remaining carbon budget.

The rapid growth of the industry over the last decade, driven by cheap natural gas from the hydraulic fracturing boom, has been most dramatic in the United States, which is witnessing a dramatic buildout of new plastic infrastructure in the Gulf Coast and in the Ohio River Valley.

For example, in western Pennsylvania, a new Shell natural gas products processing plant being constructed to provide ingredients for the plastics industry (called an “ethane cracker”) could emit up to 2.25 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution each year (carbon dioxide equivalent tons). A new ethylene plant at ExxonMobil’s Baytown refinery along the Texas Gulf Coast will release up to 1.4 million tons, according to the Plastic and Climate report. Annual emissions from just these two new facilities would be equal to adding almost 800,000 new cars to the road. Yet they are only two among more than 300 new petrochemical projects being built in the US alone, primarily for the production of plastic and plastic additives.

Plastic in the environment is one of the least studied sources of emissions—and a key missing piece from previous studies on plastic’s climate impacts. Oceans absorb a significant amount of the greenhouse gases produced on the planet—as much as 40 percent of all human-produced carbon dioxide since the beginning of the industrial era. Plastic & Climate highlights how a small but growing body of research suggests plastic discarded in the environment may be disrupting the ocean’s natural ability to absorb and sequester carbon dioxide.

Plastic & Climate uses conservative assumptions to create a projection of plastic’s climate impacts under a business-as-usual scenario, meaning that the actual climate impacts of plastic are likely to exceed these projections.

The report identifies a series of actions that can be taken to reduce these climate impacts, concluding that the most effective way to address the plastic crisis is to dramatically reduce the production of unnecessary plastic, beginning with national and global bans on nearly all single-use, disposable plastic.

The proposed solutions include:

  • ending the production and use of single-use, disposable plastic;
  • stopping development of new oil, gas, and petrochemical infrastructure;
  • fostering the transition to zero-waste communities;
  • implementing extended producer responsibility as a critical component of circular economies; and
  • adopting and enforcing ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors, including plastic production.

Quotes From the Authors

Carroll Muffett, President, CIEL:

“Humanity has less than twelve years to cut global greenhouse emissions in half and just three decades to eliminate them almost entirely. The massive and rapidly growing emissions from plastic production and disposal undermine that goal and jeopardize global efforts to keep climate change below 1.5 degrees of warming. It has long been clear that plastic threatens the global environment and puts human health at risk. This report demonstrates that plastic, like the rest of the fossil economy, is putting the climate at risk as well. Because the drivers of the climate crisis and the plastic crisis are closely linked, so to are their solutions: humanity must end its reliance on fossil fuels and on fossil plastics that the planet can no longer afford.”

Courtney Bernhardt, Director of Research, Environmental Integrity Project:

“Our world is drowning in plastic, and the plastics industry has been overlooked as a major source of greenhouse gases. But there are ways to solve this problem. We need to end the production of single use, disposable plastic containers and encourage a transition to a zero-waste future.”

Matt Kelso, Manager of Data and Technology, FracTracker Alliance:

“The overwhelming majority of plastics are produced from ethane, a component of natural gas and petroleum. The story of plastic’s contribution to climate change really begins at the wellhead, and we can therefore say that a portion of carbon emissions from oil and gas production is attributable to the creation of plastics. As gas travels from hundreds of thousands of wells through a network of millions of miles of pipelines on its way to downstream facilities, there are countless releases of carbon through leaks, venting, and flaring, mostly in the form of carbon dioxide and methane. But in order to get a full picture of these impacts, we have also examined emissions from trucks and heavy machinery that service this gigantic industry, as well as the removal of vast stretches of forested land, which can no longer ameliorate the carbon pollution of the industry.  At a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide is spiking dramatically, we need to take a hard look at the consequences of extracting carbon from the ground in the first place, including for the production of plastics.”

Doun Moon, Research Associate, GAIA:

There is no such thing as an “end-of-life” for plastic as it continues to pose a significant threat to the climate long after it reaches the final phase of its lifecycle. Waste incineration, also referred to as Waste-to-Energy, is the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions from  plastic waste management, even after considering the electricity that can be generated during the process. The industry’s plans to massively expand both petrochemical production and waste incineration are incompatible with the urgent need for climate mitigation. Our analysis evidently shows that waste prevention coupled with reduced plastic production is by far the most effective way to reduce GHG emissions, and practically the only path forward in order to turn the tide on ever-intensifying climate change.”

Rachel Labbe-Bellas, Science Programs & Development Manager, 5 Gyres:

5 Gyres’ collaboration on the CIEL Plastics & GHGs report helps explain the possible GHG impacts of ocean plastics, including potentially accelerated GHG emissions from microplastics, and the impact of plastics on CO2 uptake by ocean ecosystems. This was a novel subject for 5 Gyres despite our expertise of ocean plastics, and given that only one scientific publication to this date has looked at ocean plastic greenhouse gas emissions. During the 10 years of research in ocean plastic pollution, we have observed the evolution of our understanding of this issue. Now more than ever, we have seen a shift in attention towards understanding the sources of ocean plastics before entering the ocean. The underlying belief of 5 Gyres is that we must stop the flow of plastic pollution from source to sea – which suggests that its time we start ranking today’s proposed solutions which can be found in this report. CIEL has courageously taken initiative to include us, bridging the conversation of the upstream plastic production impacts until its “end-of life” – from those floating at sea, sitting on our shorelines, or resting on the seafloor.

Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator, Break Free From Plastic:

“Both the climate emergency and the plastic pollution crisis are driven by fossil fuel dependence. It is therefore not surprising that the continuing production, use, and disposal of plastics will further exacerbate the climate crisis. Simply put, more throwaway plastic translates to runaway climate change. The production of plastics must be significantly curtailed for humanity to have a real, fighting chance in averting catastrophic climate change while reversing the plastic pollution crisis at the same time.”

What Experts are Saying:

Jeffrey Morris, Ph.D. Economist, Sound Resource Management Group:

“There are at least three very problematic materials in our garbage – diapers, pet wastes and plastic packaging and films. Figuring out how to manage them keeps solid waste system managers up at night. In particular, plastic packaging and films cause severe problems at recycling sorting facilities, are the source of substantial fossil carbon emissions when burned at incineration waste-to-energy facilities, and are ubiquitous in environmental litters. Because plastics are relatively inefficient as a fuel source and also contain many additives that release pollutants harmful to human and ecosystems health, the solution to plastics littering our waters and landscapes does not lie with using waste plastics as energy sources. That will increase the harm waste plastics are already doing to our climate and health. Rather, effective solutions to our plastics crisis need to come from reductions in the generation of plastics waste by such actions as eliminating single use plastic packaging of all kinds, promoting compostable as well as reusable food carry out containers, and requiring true biodegradability in all items that currently are found on roadsides, in waterways and our oceans.”   

Graham Forbes, Global Plastics Project Leader, Greenpeace:

“This report is yet another example of why the corporate throwaway culture must end. Not only are plastics killing marine animals, endangering our health, and creating a global pollution crisis, they are contributing to catastrophic climate change. It is more clear than ever that companies and governments must take strong action to phase out single-use plastics immediately and move toward systems of reuse.”

Priscilla Villa, Earthworks’ South Texas Organizer, Earthworks:

“Plastics are fueling the climate catastrophe because they’re made from oil and gas, and oil and gas pollution is the main reason climate change is rapidly accelerating. Planned plastics production facilities in the Gulf Coast and Appalachia would worsen our global climate

crisis while also threatening vulnerable communities with more intense storms like Hurricane Harvey. We need to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels, including single-use plastics.”

Jacqueline Savitz, Chief Policy Officer of North America, Oceana:

“This report shows that the avalanche of plastics flowing into our oceans — equivalent to a dump truck-load every minute — is just the tip of the iceberg.  On top of the choking sea turtles, starving seabirds and dying whales, we can add plastic-driven melting ice caps, a rising sea level and devastating storms. Whether you are a coastal resident or a farmer, a marine mammal or a sea turtle, plastic is the enemy. We need to cap its production and then cut it down. Companies must give us better choices. Otherwise we are all going to drown in it — figuratively, if not literally.”

Dianna Cohen, Co-Founder and CEO, Plastic Pollution Coalition:

“We commend CIEL and partners’ new report Plastic and Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet for demonstrating the alarming climate impacts of plastic. Plastic pollution is an urgent global crisis, and plastic pollutes at every stage: from extraction to disposal and incinerator. This is a decisive moment when we will no longer accept business as usual. Join us in demanding a shift in the system for the health of the Earth and all its living creatures.”

Authoring Organizations

Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) uses the power of law to protect the environment, promote human rights, and ensure a just and sustainable society. CIEL seeks a world where the law reflects the interconnection between humans and the environment, respects the limits of the planet, protects the dignity and equality of each person, and encourages all of earth’s inhabitants to live in balance with each other.

Environmental Integrity Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that empowers communities and protects public health and the environment by investigating polluters, holding them accountable under the law, and strengthening public policy. (Chapter 5: Refining & Manufacture)

FracTracker Alliance is a nonprofit organization that studies, maps, and communicates the risks of oil and gas development to protect our planet and support the renewable energy transformation. (Chapter 4: Extraction & Transport)

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) 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. (Chapter 6: Waste Management)

Sound Resource Management Group, Inc. has been working to shrink pollution footprints, reduce waste and conserve resources throughout the US and Canada since 1987. We have experience working with hundreds of businesses, governments, and non-profit organizations. (Chapter 6: Waste Management)

5 Gyres is nonprofit organization focused on stopping the flow of plastic pollution through science, education, and adventure. We employ a science to solutions model to empower community action, engaging our global network in leveraging science to stop plastic pollution at the source. (Chapter 7: Plastic in the Environment)

#breakfreefromplastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution made up of nearly 1,500 organizations from across the world demanding massive reductions in single-use plastic and pushing for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis.

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