“Zero Waste Cities Forum” gathers LGUs to take on plastic challenge

“Zero Waste Cities Forum” gathers LGUs to take on plastic challenge

Officials mull plastic bans and other policies to implement RA 9003, curb plastic pollution

Quezon City, 31 January 2019—Hundreds of local government unit (LGU) officials across the country gathered today in a forum in Quezon City to discuss policies that will help bring an end to plastic pollution—and usher in sustainable, Zero Waste Cities in the Philippines.

The forum, held in celebration of Zero Waste Month this January and organized by GAIA Asia Pacific and Mother Earth Foundation, looked into local and national policy actions aimed at reducing single-use plastic, from material substitution by producers to outright bans in cities. Speakers from different countries also showcased success stories of Zero Waste initiatives from the European Union and other parts of the globe, as well as in the Philippines.

Zero Waste is the key to solving the country’s waste problems,” said Froilan Grate, Executive Director of Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific. “When city planners put Zero Waste into action, they can establish resilient and sustainable cities, help fulfill Sustainable Development Goals, comply with RA 9003, and transition to a sustainable circular economy.”

The proliferation of single-use plastic is one of the biggest drivers of plastic pollution. Environmental groups contend that waste should not be addressed through harmful end-of-pipe systems such as landfills and waste incinerators, but through Zero Waste systems. Zero Waste approaches address waste and resources throughout their entire lifecycle—from production to end-of-life—with the goal of waste prevention and resource conservation. In the Philippines, Zero Waste principles are at the core of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act or Republic Act (RA) 9003, a landmark law on resource and waste management.

At the forum, GAIA Asia Pacific launched the report “Enabling sustainable cities through Zero Waste: A guide for decision- and policy-makers.” Although RA 9003 was signed into law in 2001, many cities and municipalities are still struggling with compliance. GAIA believes that there is a lack of information available to local and national government officials about practical strategies and policies that can help them fully implement RA 9003. The paper aims to give local government leaders and national lawmakers recommendations for policies that put Zero Waste in action and effectively implement RA 9003 while demonstrating that Zero Waste is both practical and achievable.

Several local governments are already pioneering Zero Waste programs through cost-effective investments in decentralized waste collection, composting, recycling markets, and waste management infrastructure. Experiences of Philippine cities have shown that as long as the right strategies are in place, cities can set up Zero Waste systems that will enable successful implementation within a period of as short as six months, while also achieving significant savings in waste management costs.

However, cities continue to struggle in managing non-recyclable waste, mostly single-use plastics such as sachets and other packaging. The cities of San Fernando in Pampanga, and San Carlos in Negros Occidental, for example, are implementing strict and effective plastic bag and styrofoam regulations, but these remain a problem.

Marietta Lomocso of San Carlos City’s Environmental Management Office, shared: “With strong political will and stakeholder engagement, our plastic regulation reduced residual waste by half.” But, she said, challenges persist. “Businesses from neighboring cities bring in plastic packaging because they are not familiar with our plastic regulation. And, we still need to deal with the remaining 50% non-recyclable waste that we collect.

GAIA maintains that businesses need to be part of the solution of reducing plastic waste by not producing single-use packaging and items in the first place. Leaders in national government agencies must also realize they have a crucial role to play by enabling strong policy support at the country level; for example, through mandating extended producer responsibility (EPR) policies, and a national ban on single-use plastics.

Delphine Lévi Alvarès of Zero Waste Europe shared the experience in the European Union (EU) where similar policies are being implemented at a regional level. Europe’s shift to a sustainable circular economy is mandating member countries to pursue reduction, reuse, and recycling as priority actions for waste management. Lévi Alvarès said that more than 400 cities and municipalities in the EU have commitments to become Zero Waste Cities.  She also explained that producers are obliged by law to cover the costs of plastic waste management and that certain single-use plastics are being phased out as the region pursues a sustainable circular economy. “Zero Waste initiatives in countries like the Philippines are sending a strong message to Europe that the plastics issue must be addressed at the global level. Major manufacturing industries based in Europe and other countries in the global north should eliminate single use plastics in all regions where they work, including Asia.” she said.

GAIA’s Zero Waste Cities Forum is part of several collaborative dialogues among local government officials in the Asia Pacific region to share experiences about Zero Waste implementation strategies. Outside the Philippines, several cities in the region have hosted, or expressed their interest to host, their own Zero Waste Cities events, including Bandung, Indonesia (Zero Waste Cities Conference 2018) and Penang, Malaysia (Zero Waste Cities Conference 2019 later in the year). GAIA, in partnership with grassroots organizations, has been supporting cities in pursuing ecological strategies to promote segregation and reduce waste volumes, specifically plastic pollution, to reduce and eventually eliminate dependence on harmful end-of-pipe waste disposal systems.##

The report “Enabling sustainable cities through Zero Waste: A guide for decision- and policy-makers.” is available here

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Sherma Benosa, Communications Officer, GAIA-AP, +63 917 815 7570, sherma@no-burn.org

The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) is a global network of more than 800 grassroots groups, NGOs and individuals. We envision a just, zero waste world built on respect for ecological limits and community rights, where people are free from the burden of toxic pollution, and resources are sustainably conserved, not burned or dumped. We work to catalyze a global shift towards ecological and environmental justice by strengthening grassroots social movements that advance solutions to waste and pollution. www.no-burn.org

Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) is an NGO that works to promote education and awareness of the people on environment protection and proper waste management, reduction of waste, segregation at source composting and recycling towards a zero waste society. http://www.motherearthphil.org/

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

FOR INQUIRIES:

Glenn Ymata, 0917 837 7625: Senior Program Officer

Zaira Baniaga, 0939 707 1589: Media Liason

 

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

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

PRESS RELEASE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-end-

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Berkeley City Council Poised to Pass Ambitious Ordinance to Curb Disposable Foodware

Berkeley City Council Poised to Pass Ambitious Ordinance to Curb Disposable Foodware

Press Release

[Berkeley, CA]  On January 22, 2019, the Berkeley City Council will vote on the Disposable Foodware and Litter Reduction Ordinance, the most ambitious and comprehensive piece of municipal legislation in the US aimed at reducing single-use disposable foodware.

The “Disposable-Free Dining” ordinance will get its first reading at the December Berkeley City Council Meeting. A press event will be held in advance, at 4:00pm (location), featuring Council Member Sophie Hahn, the ordinance’s lead author. “Single-use disposable foodware is a local and global problem, one with enormous financial and environmental
costs,” says Hahn.

Berkeley’s ordinance goes further than the many disposable plastic reduction ordinances that have passed around the US and globe in the last two years. It requires that:

1) only reusable foodware can be used for dine-in service,
2) all takeout foodware must be BPI-certified compostable,
3) food vendors must charge customers $0.25 for every disposable beverage cup, and
4) disposable compostable straws, stirrers, cup spill plugs, napkins, and utensils for take-out are provided only upon request by the customer or at a self-serve station.
City-owned facilities and City-sponsored events will adhere to the same standards, and mini-grants will be available to help businesses transition.

In April 2018, the City Council introduced the draft ordinance and referred it to the Zero Waste Commission to seek public input. The Commission held six public listening sessions, received over 60 pages of input, and submitted recommendations back to City Council. Councilmembers then revised the ordinance into its current form, which will be put to a vote.

Earlier iterations of the ordinance accepted recyclable disposable foodware, but the final draft omitted it altogether, as global plastic recycling markets continue to founder. “Most of the single-use plastic foodware has no value in today’s recycling markets. With China’s ban on importing plastic scrap, cities are actually paying to get rid of it,” says Martin Bourque, Executive Director of the Ecology Center, the nonprofit that has collected Berkeley’s recycling since 1973. “We cannot recycle our way out of the disposable foodware problem. We have to focus on reduction.”

“Our throw-away culture is leading to a proliferation of plastics in our food, air, and drinking water, which threatens human health and all ocean life. Disposable food packaging is the biggest contributor to the problem,” says Upstream’s Policy Director Miriam Gordon. “Globally, we’ve seen that charging consumers for plastic bags is the most effective way to
shift people from disposables to reusables. The Disposable-Free Dining ordinance builds on
that strategy.”

“Businesses that make these changes are often surprised at the cost savings and customer
satisfaction when they move away from disposables,” says Samantha Sommer, who manages Clean Water Action’s Rethink Disposable, a grant-funded program that helps local businesses make the kinds of changes the ordinance mandates.

According to a Clean Water Action study, food and beverage packaging comprise the majority of all Bay Area street litter. Bay Area cities are struggling to meet the Regional Water Board’s zero litter to storm drains requirement by 2022. Like other cities, Berkeley bears the cost of litter abatement – including the costly collection of debris from storm drains – as do the business districts. Last year alone, the Telegraph Avenue Business Improvement District’s street ambassadors picked up over 22 tons of litter.

Globally, single-use disposable foodware is contributing to plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, drinking water, and food. 80% of plastic found in the ocean come from land-based sources. Shoreline Cleanup results from Berkeley, Albany, and Emeryville underscore this.

The ordinance is supported by a coalition of over 1000 local, national, and international organizations participating in the Break Free from Plastic (BFFP) global movement, including the Ecology Center, Clean Water Action, UpStream, The Story of Stuff Project, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Plastic Pollution Coalition, and Surfrider Foundation. BFFP Global Coordinator Von Hernandez, says, “The gravity of the global plastic pollution crisis should compel policy and decision makers to enact measures to reduce plastic waste. Zero waste practitioners worldwide applaud and support this initiative from Berkeley and look forward to its adoption and implementation.”

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Contact:
Martin Bourque, Executive Director, Ecology Center, 510-812-5514
Council member Sophie Hahn, 510-981-7150
Karina Ioffee, Director of Communications, Office of Mayor Jesse Arreguin, 510-981-7102

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Industry group seeks to maintain single-use plastic status quo

Industry group seeks to maintain single-use plastic status quo

Press Statement

Washington, DC – In an effort to preserve their ability to produce cheap single-use plastics, several fossil fuel companies and a fast moving consumer goods company united to launch the Alliance to End Plastic Waste today. The group, which includes Exxon, Dow, Total, Shell, Chevron Phillips, and Procter & Gamble, will look to commit $1.5 billion toward keeping plastics out of the environment, rather than prioritizing the reduction of single-use plastic production.

 

“The plastics empire has struck back with an initiative that seeks to justify and further entrench the continued production of  fossil-fuel based plastics for years to come. By aggressively promoting and financing false solutions in Asia, they think they can continue flooding our markets with their problematic sachets and packaging. Industry cannot continue living in their alternate universe where sky is always  the limit – the planet is already suffocating in plastic waste and the times call for real solutions, not illusions,” said Von Hernandez , coordinator of the global #breakfreefromplastic movement.

 

Statements from #breakfreefromplastic member organizations The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Zero Waste Europe, The Story of Stuff Project, Upstream, Oceana, and Greenpeace follow:

 

Christie Keith, GAIA International Coordinator and Executive Director

“We can’t recycle our way out of plastic pollution. Instead of coming up with increasingly complicated, unproven, and expensive ways to deal with plastic waste, we need industry to stop making such large quantities of disposable plastic packaging and products in the first place. It is simply absurd to continue using the longest lasting substance for the shortest uses. The answer to this problem is simple – we need to reduce plastic use dramatically. Forward-thinking cities and communities across the world are showing leadership on this front by moving toward zero waste, and it is their efforts that need to be applauded for truly showing us the way of the future.”

 

Delphine Lévi Alvarès, #breakfreefromplastic movement European coordinator at Zero Waste Europe

“Fossil-fuel producers treat plastic pollution as a waste-management issue in yet another attempt to distract from the real problem. Instead, this investment should be used to scale the alternatives to unnecessary plastics globally. However, this would mean less oil & gas extraction and less plastic manufacturing something that industry is reluctant to accept despite it being the clear solution.”

 

Sam Pearse, The Story of Stuff Project Plastics Campaign Manager

“Unfortunately these plans look like they were designed to maintain business as usual on plastic production. At a time where plastic is entering our food and drinking water, we need to focus on real solutions: producing less single-use plastic.

 

Miriam Gordon, UPSTREAM Program Director

“Using plastic, a material designed to last forever, for products that are used in a matter of minutes and then discarded, will never make sense for people or the planet. Even if the plastics industry spends billions to develop new recycling technologies, there will still be significant pollution impacts associated with the recycling. By using recycling to legitimize the continued extraction of fossil fuels, the plastics and consumer goods industries continue to doom the planet to rapid climate change. These companies should be making pledges to sell and use plastic only for durable materials, not single-use bags, containers, wrappers, bottle caps, lids, utensils, and straws that will escape recycling systems and end up in the environment. The real solutions to plastic pollution are to stop using plastic as a throw away material.”

 

Jacqueline Savitz, Oceana Chief Policy Officer

“We are at a pivotal moment. The industry’s insistence on producing and using more plastic is simply not sustainable. Plastic-filled bellies of marine birds, sea turtles and fish is beyond acceptable and we may be next. Companies must commit to significantly cut single-use plastic use immediately.”

 

Graham Forbes, Greenpeace Global Plastics Project Leader

“This is a desperate attempt from corporate polluters to maintain the status quo on plastics. In 2018, people all over the world spoke up and rejected the single-use plastics that companies like Procter & Gamble churn out on a daily basis, urging the industry to invest in refill and reuse systems and innovation. Instead of answering that call, P&G preferred to double down on a failed approach with fossil fuel giants like Exxon, Dow and Total that fuel destructive climate change. Make no mistake about it: plastics are a lifeline for the dying fossil fuel industry, and yesterday’s announcement goes to show how far companies will go to preserve it.”

 

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About Break Free From Plastic:

#breakfreefromplastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, 1,400 groups 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

 

Contact:

Shilpi Chhotray, Break Free From Plastic Senior Communications Officer, P: 703-400-9986

Perry Wheeler, Greenpeace Senior Communications Specialist, P: 301-675-8766

Claire Arkin, Campaign and Communications Associate, GAIA, P: 1-510-883-9490 ext: 111

 

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Philippines to the World: We are Not Your Dumping Ground

Philippines to the World: We are Not Your Dumping Ground

Container vans containing misdeclared mixed wastes from South Korea are set to be repatriated by the Bureau of Customs today, 13 January 2019, from Misamis Oriental, The Philippines. A total of 51 container vans will be sent back to South Korea, and is just part of the xx trash-filled container vans illegally sent by Verde Soko, Inc. to the Philippines last July and October, 2018. Greenpeace lauds the quick and decisive action of the Bureau of Customs in resolving this issue. This action sends a very strong message that the Philippines is not a dumping ground and the broken system of recycling puts developing countries, like the Philippines, at risk. Photo: Geric Cruz/Greenpeace

 

Manila, Philippines (January 14, 2019) — Philippine members of Break Free From Plastic (BFFP), a global movement campaigning against plastic pollution, laud the swift and decisive action taken by the Philippines’ Bureau of Customs (BOC) to repatriate the illegal shipments to South Korea.

The said shipments arrived at the port of the Phividec Industrial Estate Authority at the Southern part of the country last July and October 2018 for locator consignee Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corporation.

After investigating the controversial waste shipments, the BOC concluded that this was a clear case of waste dumping by Korean company, Green Soko Co. Ltd., especially as the shipments of mixed wastes totaling 6,500 tons were misdeclared as plastic flakes, and without  proper importation permits.

“Developing countries like the Philippines are not dumping grounds for the wastes of developed countries. Exporters of these mixed waste shipments typically mis-declare their cargo or hide behind the veil of recycling to circumvent national laws and agreements that prohibit waste dumping. By returning these shipments to South Korea, the Philippines is sending a strong message against unscrupulous waste traders that our shores are off limits to plastic trash imports,” said Abigail Aguilar, Greenpeace Philippines Campaigner.

The controversial Korean shipments were declared as “plastic flakes” but upon inspection by the BOC, the shipments yielded a mix of plastic wastes, paper, metal, rubber, and other materials. The first shipment that arrived in July as break bulk cargo (i.e. not in shipping containers) still sits in an open field in the yet unfinished Verde Soko facility. An additional 81 containers of waste were supposed to be shipped but was stopped before it reached Philippine shores after the news of the first two shipments broke.

Plastic pollution has reached crisis proportions globally. With China closing its doors to plastic imports starting January 2018, developed countries have been scrambling to find countries that will accept their waste. Southeast Asian countries are fast becoming leading destinations for the world’s plastic waste. Recent reports have shown an increase in plastic waste import in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Malaysia and Vietnam have since banned the importation of plastic waste, but implementation has been lacking.

“We call on Southeast Asian countries to strengthen their safeguard against importation of plastic waste and to strictly enforce their policies against transboundary waste shipment,” said Beau Baconguis, Regional Plastics Campaigner, GAIA Asia Pacific and Break Free From Plastic. “It is unfair  for these developed countries to export their waste to Asia and then have the gall to call Asia as the world’s biggest plastic polluters,” she added.

As the Philippines hails the repatriation of the South Korean waste, local eco-groups are also calling on Canada to take back their waste that have been in the country far longer.

In a statement released earlier by the Philippine watchdog, Eco Waste Coalition, Aileen Lucero said, “By saying ‘no’ to garbage dumping from Korea and other countries, we say ‘no’ to the derogation of our country’s dignity and sovereignty, ‘no’ to the disrespect for national and international laws, and ‘no’ to the harm they will bring to our communities.”

“While we laud the move of the Philippine government to repatriate this illegal shipment of waste from South Korea, we are closely monitoring until the entire process of repatriation is completed. We also urge the public to remain vigilant of future illegal waste shipment in the country. Asia is not any rich country’s dumping ground. We are not their “away,” added Baconguis.

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