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Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services & Community In-Power and Development Association (CIDA)

Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services & Community In-Power and Development Association (CIDA)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: THURSDAY, 11/28/19

STATEMENT ON TPC CHEMICAL DISASTER

On the morning of Wednesday, November 27, 2019, an explosion involving a processing unit was reported at TPC Group Port Neches, Texas Operations site, east of Houston and less than 10-miles from Port Arthur Texas. No official statement has disclosed the full names of chemicals or toxicants being released into the air and surrounding community during the ongoing fire. The TPC Group Plant has a total of 175 full-time employees and 50 contractors, all personnel on-site have been evacuated and 3 personnel sustained injuries, 2 personnel of TPC Group and 1 contract worker. All 3 injured personnel were taken to the medical center in Southeast Texas, and one was later transported to Memorial Herman in Houston.

 “My father was a United Steelworker who succumbed to cancer in 2016. I am well aware that symptoms from this chemical disaster may not surface for years to come. Workers’ medical needs should be covered by TPC for years to come because of known bioaccumulation of both known and unknown chemicals exposures in the body. This facility is has a history of non-compliance, which means that workers bodies absorbed the costs in health impacts. Workers are the first line of defense when these chemical disasters happen. These expenses should be covered by TPC this is the cost of having unsafe business practices, otherwise, they will continue business-as-usual.” -Ana Parras, Co-Executive Director T.e.j.a.s and former President of AFSCME, Local 3242, Corpus Christi, Texas

Incident command was established offsite at the Huntsman Administration building due to the size of fire and inability to get into the location. No immediate shelter-in-place was ordered for the surrounding community until 9:00 am, as of 6:00 pm a total of 50,000 people are under mandatory evacuation. According to the EPA Region 6 and local officials, the main chemical of concern is 1,3-Butadiene although other chemicals may be involved. 1,3-butadiene is a gas used in the production of styrene-butadiene rubber, plastics, and thermoplastic resins. This chemical is carcinogenic, meaning it’s cancer-causing and has both short and long term effects including: irritation of the eyes, nasal passages, throat and lungs, neurological effects, blurred vision, fatigue, headache, and vertigo have also been reported at very high exposure levels. Skin exposure causes a sensation of cold, followed by a burning sensation which may lead to frostbite. Thousands of peo

“We will be spending thanksgiving under shelter-in-place and evacuation orders. We are now 35 hours after the initial blast that started at 1 am yesterday morning at the TPC plant, a known violator of the Clean Air Act, it will most likely burn throughout the night. We woke up to a fiery blast the day before Thanksgiving. This is life for our communities sitting at the fence-line of the petrochemical corridor along the gulf coast. Evacuation orders have only gone out to a 4- mile radius and more than 50,000 southeast Texans have evacuated. We live in an ever-growing petrochemical corridor because of the billions of dollars being invested in petrochemical infrastructure. Not even a full week after the Trump EPA Chemical Disaster Rule rollback. A rule that would have provided common-sense prevention rules in place during catastrophic events like this TPC Disasters.”

-Hilton Kelly, CIDA Inc. Founder & Director,

Just six days ago Trump’s EPA slashed common-sense protections under the Chemical Disaster Rule that could have mitigated the harm faced by communities impacted by disasters like this one. Protections including root-cause analysis, third party inspections and improved communications with first responders and local authorities. The impacted area included several vulnerable areas including residences and schools. The school district of Port Neches-Groves has a total of 11 schools with a total of 5,131 students, 39.1% are economically disadvantaged. All 11 schools sit inside the 4 mile radius of the chemical fire this includes: Taft Elementary, Groves Elementary, West Groves Education Center, Van Buren Elementary, Groves Middle School, Ridgewood Elementary, Port Neches Elementary, Port Neches Middle School, Port Neches- Groves High School, Woodcrest Elementary, and Alternative Education Center.

“People should be spending their holiday with families, instead they have been displaced due to no fault of their own. Fortunately, schools were not in session. What if the blast occurred during school hours? How many children and teachers would have suffered? Disasters like these are preventable, it shouldn’t take a chemical explosion for local, state and agency officials to take action and realize the dangers of chemical facilities.” – Nalleli Hidalgo, Community Engagement and Education Liaison

 The TPC fire is not the first, nor last of explosive chemical disasters occurring in Texas. The frequency of chemical plant explosions are endangering workers’ lives on-site and raises concerns of public health issues for frontline communities. We are reminded of the recent fire at the ExxonMobil and the ITC facility on March 16, 2019 and March 17, 2019 in Baytown, Texas and Deer Park, Texas. All incidences found in the southeast Texas petrochemical corridor, east of Houston, Texas. We remain adamant that local, county and state officials implement a Regional Air Toxics Plan and support reinstating the Chemical Disaster Rule, which the current administration recently rolled back. We also want to urge the general public to seek legal remedies outside of the claims hotline and make a full assessment of damages including health impacts. We urge you not to come in direct contact with ash and other debris. Other considerations to keep in mind are the use of ponds, swimming pools and other open waters used for recreation, please avoid exposure to chemical ash and other debris that could have settled on these bodies of water. The same consideration should be given to ash and debris that has landed near residences, including but not limited to metal, charred material, and fire retardant foam that can potentially land on people’s residences, vehicles, and other property. If ash is located on your property avoid cutting lawns. The maintenance of lawns and other landscape can agitate any particulate matter. Instead, call local health and safety departments and take pictures and video of debris if permitted to return to your residences. If you are feeling any side effects visit your physician and maintain a record of your health. Document any symptoms including but not limited to the symptoms affiliated with 1,3-butadiene exposure. Local command stated that other chemicals may have been involved.

For these and additional concerns Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services urges residents in the area affected to evacuate and seek safety with friends and relatives further from the facility. Please remain calm and cautious of current and future road closures and weather events that may complicate the situation. Local officials have not called for a mandatory evacuation outside of the 4-mile radius but we urge those at further distances to take precautions and make decisions best for themselves and family members. Tejas also urges the surrounding municipalities and communities including but not limited to Port Arthur, Port Acres, Pear Ridge, Griffing Park, Lakeview, Central Gardens, and Viterbo, and communities in-view of the plume to take precautions and limit outdoor exposure due to unknown substances that the plume may carry. Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services is not a government agency or county entity to mandate evacuation. We are a 501(c)3 registered environmental advocacy nonprofit that seeks to educate and inform communities on the environmental issues of concern. Due to the concentration of production, storage and other sensitive materials in and around the area we remind the public to stay abreast of the situation as they are out during the day before the Thanksgiving holiday. A Red Cross shelter is being set up at Ford Park in Beaumont according to Chester Jourdan, executive director of the American Red Cross of Southeast and Deep East Texas.

 As local, state, and agency officials release statements that their data, based on handheld air monitors is safe; community members continue to sit beneath a massive plume of toxic-chemical smoke. TPC is a petrochemical facility known to have a history of air permit violations according to the Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO), an EPA database. ECHO data has documented TPC as a facility with over 12 quarters of violations dating back to 2017.

“Don’t tell me that health and safety is the topmost priority for TPC a known violator of the Clean Air Act. Children, elderly, pregnant women and so many others are being exposed to cancer-causing 1,3-butadiene. We have no information on the full slate of chemicals being released or the amounts. I appreciate local officials evacuating community members and taking intentional steps to protect public well-being it is a step up from the efforts during the ITC Disaster, and yet TPCs official updates lack the detail and information that ITC handed to the affected community. What we need is for the TCEQ to stop handing out air permits like candy and for the state to lift caps on financial penalties for facilities to fully enforce the letter of the law. How does a known-violator of the law keep getting permission to operate? This is not the first time TPC undermines community well-being. Their activity is criminal and TPC should not be allowed to continue to operate. I hope the general public understands this type of production is not one based on energy demand but the production of plastic goods. This is the real cost of plastic.” – Yvette Arellano, Policy Research and Grassroots Advocate, T.e.j.a.s

Both T.e.j.a.s and CIDA release this statement jointly believing that no community should have to face a chemical disaster as everyone, regardless of race or income, is entitled to live in a clean environment.

Contact: Yvette Arellano, T.e.j.a.s Policy Research and Grassroots Advocate, 281-919-5762, arellano.inbox@gmail.com Hilton Kelley, CIDA Inc. Founder & Director, 409-498-1088, hiltonkelley5011@gmail.com

Photo from Maharlika News.

With Only 9% of All Plastic Recycled, Break Free From Plastic Calls Out Hypocrisy of “America Recycles Day”

With Only 9% of All Plastic Recycled, Break Free From Plastic Calls Out Hypocrisy of “America Recycles Day”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 14, 2019

Contact: Claire Arkin, claire@no-burn.org, 510-883-9490 ext: 111

Berkeley, CA — Tomorrow, on the industry-backed, “America Recycles Day,” people across the country will be participating in clean-up activities, and pledging to recycle more. At the same time, Break Free From Plastic leaders will be getting arrested on Fire Drill Friday to call attention to environmental injustice, climate change, failing recycling systems, and waste dumping scandals, while demanding that corporations reduce the production of plastics, instead of focusing on cleaning it up after the fact.

Keep America Beautiful, the non-profit organization behind America Recycles Day, is funded by some of the biggest corporate polluters (Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Pepsi) according to the recent global brand audit report, and has a history of sabotaging plastic reduction legislation while blaming consumers for the plastic pollution crisis– taking the heat off the corporations who are creating it in the first place.

Instead of taking meaningful steps to phase out single-use plastic from their business models, corporate polluters uplift recycling as the primary solution to plastic waste. But while Americans are diligently recycling and attending clean-ups, the plastic industry is planning to quadruple plastic production by 2050. Meanwhile, only 9% of plastic ever made has been recycled.

Corporations’ over-reliance on recycling is actually undermining it. According to a group of mission-based recyclers including Ecology Center, Eco-cycle, Eureka Recycling, and Recycle Ann Arbor, “Our jobs are becoming harder and harder as major consumer brands flood the market with more and different types of single-use plastics and other disposable packaging, insisting that these items should be included in our recycling programs while doing little to nothing to actually make their products recyclable and recycled.” Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Nestle only use 9%, 3%, and 2% recycled content in their products, respectively.

“Just like the fossil fuel industry, corporate polluters have been using recycling to justify ever-increasing production of single-use packaging, while taxpayers and cities are left to foot the bill. Lower income communities and communities of color, who are the hardest hit and the least responsible, bear the brunt of a model that has brought us to the brink of the waste and climate crisis,” said Denise Patel, US & Canada Program Director of GAIA.

Meanwhile, China’s effective ban on foreign post-consumer recycling imports has exposed the major flaws in our global recycling system, which has been shown to pollute communities in other parts of the world, particularly Asia.

“Plastic waste shipments supposedly for recycling are trashing poor villages and communities wherever they end up. Companies need to come clean on this one — they cannot continue to fool the public that has become acutely aware that the solution to the crisis lies in producing and using less plastic to begin with,” said Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of Break Free from Plastic.

Fortunately,  communities and businesses across the world are working with local governments towards zero waste, including  alternative delivery systems like refill and reuse, organizing for improved  product redesign and implementing bans on a wide range of single-use disposables.

According to Patel, “We must think beyond recycling. A Green New Deal for Zero Waste will create millions of jobs that focus on reduction and reuse before recycling, bring innovative design and delivery systems for products built with cities, businesses, and communities coming together, and promote health and well-being instead of waste and injustice.”

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Loophole & delays undermine microplastics restriction

Loophole & delays undermine microplastics restriction

NGO letter to key decision makers reiterates support for restrictions on all intentionally added microplastics under the chemicals legislation, REACH.

For Immediate Release, Brussels

There are major concerns that proposed limitations to the European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA) restriction on intentionally added microplastics act as loopholes to satisfy industry, by delaying implementation and creating derogations for biodegradable plastics. Comments from the industry lobby in the ECHA public consultation on microplastics are aimed at undermining the core purpose of the restriction rather than contributing to meaningfully addressing the issue of microplastic pollution.

The latest European Chemicals Agency proposal to restrict all intentionally added microplastics has generally received strong support from NGOs across many sectors. In letters to national governments, 32 NGOs together with the #breakfreefromplastic movement of more than 1,800 organisations, and the Rethink Plastic alliance, reiterated this support, while raising major concerns on derogations and unnecessary delays in a letter addressed to national environment ministers and relevant agencies on Tuesday. They call on the Commission and Member States to address these concerns and move the restriction process forward without delays or derogations.

Once released in the environment, microplastics are practically impossible to remove, and are expected to be present in the environment for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years, with severe and well documented effects on the environment. The scientific data gathered by ECHA in the report backing the need for a restriction is unequivocal: microplastics constitute a serious risk to the environment, and are a source of pollution that is currently, and undeniably, out of control.

In particular proposed derogations for allegedly biodegradable microplastics and the extended transitional periods are highlighted as undermining the prevention of microplastic pollution, and lacking in scientific basis.

Elise Vitali, Chemicals Project Officer at the European Environmental Bureau said “The restriction proposal is a big step forward. But if passed as it stands, this plan would seriously jeopardise the EU’s reputation as a leader in the fight against plastic pollution. It is a matter of urgency that these unjustifiable loopholes are closed, and that the restrictions are applied to all intentional microplastics in a concise timeframe.”

Delphine Lévi Alvarès, Coordinator of the #breakfreefromplastic movement in Europe and of the Rethink Plastic alliance said “It is high time the industry stops bringing biodegradability claims to obtain exemptions and create loopholes in much needed restrictions, be it on single-use plastics or in this case on microplastics added to products. If it is even slightly serious about contributing to solving the plastic crisis, the industry should rather focus its efforts on redesigning and removing all intentionally added microplastics from Industry products”.

ENDS

NOTES

  1. Read the full letter sent to EU ENVI Committee members and REACH competent authorities
  2. Read the NGOs Position For An Impactful Restriction Of Microplastics
  3. ECHA Annex XV Restriction Report Proposal for a Restriction on Intentionally Added Microplastics

 

Press Contacts:

Matt Franklin

European Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic

matt@breakfreefromplastic.org – +44 7923 37 38 31

Alice Bernard

Chemicals Lawyer, Client Earth

ABernard@clientearth.org – 0032 (0)2 808 8015

Opposition Letter to Save our Seas Legislation November 19

Opposition Letter to Save our Seas Legislation November 19

November 19, 2019


Re:  Opposition to Save our Seas 2.0, Senate bill 1982 

Dear Senators:

An editorial in the Newark Star Ledger got it exactly right with the headline:  “Our oceans are choking in plastic, and half measures are inadequate.” (October 29, 2019).  Millions of pounds of plastic pour into our treasured rivers, streams and the ocean every year.  We write in opposition to the Save Our Seas 2.0 legislation, which builds on the Save Our Seas law signed by President Trump last year.  This is a controversial bill that warrants some time on the Senate floor for careful consideration. We, the undersigned groups numbering over 100, urge you to oppose Unanimous Consent when Senate bill 1982 comes to the Senate floor.

While we appreciate Congressional attention to the growing problem of plastic pollution, this legislation does not provide an effective approach. Certain provisions may make the problem even worse.  We need Congress to pass legislation that reduces the generation of plastic, particularly single-use plastic packaging. Instead, this legislation has four major flaws.

This bill will do little to reduce the staggering amount of plastic polluting our streets, streams, shores and seas, as it does not curb upstream production or provide for a transition to reusable and refillable packaging.

The U.S., alone, created 35.4 million tons of plastic waste in 2017, most of it from single-use plastic packaging and products. This plastic is used for minutes, yet if it is littered or landfilled, it lasts in the environment for centuries. An effective plastics bill must reduce the generation of single-use plastic items – especially those that are the most common forms of plastic pollution.  This bill does not do that. 

Instead, it focuses on collecting small amounts of litter after the fact and attempts to prop up an anemic recycling system. For the past 30 years, the plastics industry has lulled Americans into thinking that recycling is the solution to the plastic problem. It is not. While recycling is essential for many materials including cardboard, paper, glass and metals, the highest recycling rate ever achieved for all plastics was 9.5% nationwide in 2014. The plastic recycling rate in 2017 dropped to 8.4%, and that was before China banned the importation of American recyclables. This means that over 90% of American plastics are landfilled, burned or discarded, posing a threat to public health and the environment.

Most importantly, eight of the top ten plastic pollution items found in the 2018 U.S. Coastal Cleanup were single-use plastic food and service items that have no waste material value and are not accepted by recyclers in the U.S. (Link to report). U.S. E.P.A. data shows that these single-use items have never been measurably recycled. Globally, Coca-Cola has been repeatedly identified as the Top Polluter in brand audit cleanups (Link to report) – and they admitted in their own disclosure last year to being solely responsible for nearly 1% of the worldwide demand for plastics.

In short, we cannot recycle our way out of the plastic pollution crisis.

We cannot solve climate change without reducing plastic pollution.

Second, plastic production is a major contributor to climate change. This bill will do virtually nothing to reduce the carbon emissions from plastic production facilities. Plastics have historically been made from chemicals and oil. Today, they are primarily made from chemicals and ethane – a by-product of hydrofracking. Dozens of new ethane cracker facilities have been proposed. If these facilities are built, they will serve as a major source of new carbon emissions. According to the American Chemistry Council, over $204 billion in capital investments have been announced for 334 new or expanded facilities linked to hydrofracking, with most of this money invested in facilities to produce plastic or plastic precursor chemicals.  

According to a recent report from several organizations in partnership with the Center for International Environmental Law, “Plastic and Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet” (Link to report), the link between plastics production and disposal and climate change is stark. If plastic production and use grow as currently planned, by 2030 these emissions could reach 1.34 gigatons per year – equivalent to the emissions released by more than 295 new coal-fired power plants. By 2050, the accumulation of these greenhouse gas emissions from plastic could reach over 56 gigatons – 10 to 13 percent of the global carbon budget by 2050. Moreover, communities living close to facilities which produce and incinerate plastic, disproportionately low-income communities and communities of color, will be exposed to dangerous levels of air toxins while the massive amounts of new greenhouse gases will make climate change even worse.

Spending Tax Dollars to Study False Solutions Wastes Valuable Time and Resources.

Third, should the chemical industry’s lobbying efforts succeed, the final bill will include previously removed language that directs the National Academies of Sciences or a federal agency to spend federal tax dollars and take years to study options to burn or process plastics through various high temperature incineration processes such as gasification, pyrolysis, waste to fuel and other risky approaches. The U.S. Department of Energy is already spending $7.6 million (Link here) to study these technologies. We do not need to spend more tax dollars on a new study to validate these technologies when we already know that they are fraught with environmental and health problems and are not economical at scale. We do not have time to go down the rabbit hole of false solutions, many of which have been proposed and have not worked for the past 30 years.

International Negotiations Should Focus on Reducing Plastic Pollution.

Fourth, while we appreciate the focus on international cooperation, this legislation does not recognize the explosion in plastic production that is underway and has no targets for reducing production of plastics intended for wasteful single-use applications. Instead, the focus is on “marine litter” and directs other countries to improve their waste management practices. The bill does not acknowledge that the U.S. has inadequate domestic waste management and recycling infrastructure and continues to export large amounts of unrecyclable plastics to other countries. This bill limits the U.S. policy direction in any new international agreement to only that of improving waste management and collection, discounting the considerable harms of plastic and plastic pollution along the entire life cycle. We must recognize that climate change, public health and marine impacts demand more action and leadership than admonishing other nations to do better. Rather than restricting our participation in comprehensive policy to solve the crisis, the U.S. should instead be leading with other countries to adopt measures to reduce the harms from plastics across its life cycle. Meanwhile, our government should be proactively incentivizing the innovation of refill and reuse solutions that will reduce the overall need for wasteful and harmful plastics. 

Public interest in plastic pollution has never been higher. Hundreds of local laws have been adopted in U.S. cities and communities that actually reduce plastic pollution. Ten states have had decades of success with container deposit laws, known as “bottle bills.” California is working towards adopting an effective plastic packaging reduction law. A small but growing number of businesses are reducing their plastic footprint. Globally, more than 127 nations have taken legal action to eliminate plastic pollution. The E.U. has banned single-use plastic items that are the most common forms of plastic pollution in their region. 

The chemical industry strongly supports the Save our Seas 2.0 legislation because it does virtually nothing to reduce single-use plastic production, even with the massive increase in greenhouse gases that accompany plastic production and various pyrolysis / gasification / incineration technologies.

We have been told to settle for this bill because the political climate in Washington does not allow for anything better. We disagree. The time has come to work on real solutions such as the policies that are included in the legislation soon to be introduced by Senator Udall and Representative Lowenthal.  

Half of all plastics ever made were made in the past 15 years. There are microplastic particles in the air we breathe and the food we eat. Scientists estimate that adults are consuming roughly a credit card’s worth (5 grams) of plastic particles per week. Legislation must go to the root of the plastic pollution crisis.

We would be happy to discuss these issues with you at your convenience. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Jeff Bridges, Actor

Jack Johnson, Musician/Activist

Bonnie Raitt, Musician

Alice Waters, Chef and Owner of Chez Panisse, Founder of the Edible Schoolyard Program, Berkeley, California

Jackson Browne, Musician and Ocean Elder

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Waterkeeper Alliance, New York, New York

Gerry Lopez, Ocean Elder

Sven Lindblad, Ocean Elder

Kim Johnson, Kokua Hawaii Foundation President/Co-Founder

Judith Enck, Beyond Plastics, Bennington, Vermont

Bill McKibben, 350.org, Middlebury, Vermont

Casey Camp-Horinek, Ponca Tribe, Ponca City, Oklahoma          

Patricia Wood, Grassroots Environmental Education, Port Washington, New York

Christopher Chin, Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education, Oakland, California

Julie Teel Simmonds, Center for Biological Diversity, Boulder, Colorado

Elizabeth Moran, New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Albany, New York

Jackie Nuñez, The Last Plastic Straw/ Plastic Pollution Coalition, Santa Cruz, California

Yvonne Taylor, Gas Free Seneca Watkins Glen, New York, New York

Joseph Campbell, Seneca Lake Guardian, a Waterkeeper Alliance Affiliate, Watkins Glen, New York, New York

Robin Schneider, Texas Campaign for the Environment, Austin, Texas

Tricia Cortez, Rio Grande International Study Center, Laredo, Texas

Tran Hoang, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, Occidental, California

Nick Lapis, Californians Against Waste, Sacramento, California

Sandra Steingraber, PhD, Concerned Health Professionals of New York

Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA, Washington DC

Melissa Aguayo, The 5 Gyres Institute, Los Angeles, California

Meredith Faltin, Queens Climate Project, Jackson Heights, New York

Meryl Greer Domina, Circle Pines Center, Delton, Michigan

Denise Patel, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Berkeley, California

Debby Lee Cohen, Cafeteria Culture, New York, New York

Sharon Hoffmann, 350Merced Merced, California

Michael Green, Center for Environmental Health, Oakland, California

Joseph Wagner, Glens Falls, New York

Sarah Edwards, Plastic Free Waters Partnership, New York and New Jersey

Ana Baptista, The Tishman Environment and Design Center, The New School, New York, New York

Gary J Lessard, P.E. Schenectady, New York

Lynn Neuman, 350BK, Brooklyn, New York

Jill Jedlicka, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, Buffalo, New York

Steven Feit, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Washington, DC

Bradley M. Campbell, Conservation Law Foundation, Boston, Massachusetts

Diane Wilson, San Antonia Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper, Seadrift, Texas

Shilpi Chhotray, Break Free From Plastic, Oakland, California 

Mark Dunlea, Green Education and Legal Fund, Poestenkill, New York 

Karen MacWatters, Indivisible 518:Justice for All, Niskayuna, New York

Gary E Jennrich, Hinckley 350, Hinckley, Ohio

Jerry Rivers, North American Climate, Conservation and Environment (NACCE), Roosevelt, New York

Heather Trim, Zero Waste Washington, Seattle, WA

Mónica Weiss, 350NYC, New York, New York

Tracy Frisch, Clean Air Action Network of Glens Falls, Greenwich, New York 

Ellen Connett, Fluoride Action Network, Binghamton, New York 

Mazeda Uddin, South Asian Fund For Education, Scholars Hip and Training, New York, New York 

Mary Biggs, Beloved Earth Community, Riverside Church, New York, New York

George Povall, All Our Energy, Point Lookout, New York 

Neil Seldman, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Washington, DC

Jennifer Scarlott, Bronx Climate Justice North, Bronx, New York 

Brook Lenker, FracTracker Alliance, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania 

Mary Smith, Church Women United in New York State, Rochester, New York 

Scott Meyer, Don’t Waste Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona

Justin Green, Big Reuse, Brooklyn, New York

Laura Haight, Partnership for Policy Integrity, Pelham, Massachusetts

Wayne Stinson, Peacemakers of Schoharie County, Cobleskill, New York

Melinda Gelder, Get REAL Counseling & Education, Port Angeles, Washington

Joseph Naham, Green Party of Nassau County, Long Beach, New York 

Mary-Alice Shemo, People for Positive Action, Plattsburgh, New York

Kate Kurera, Environmental Advocates of New York, Albany, New York

Emy Kane, Lonely Whale, Brooklyn, New York

Jan Dell, The Last Beach Cleanup, Laguna Beach, California

Susan Hughes-Smith, Rochester People’s Climate Coalition, Rochester, New York

Mandi Billinge, KIDS for the BAY, Berkeley, California

Hannah Testa, Hannah4Change, Cumming, Georgia 

Christine Pardee, Plastic Free Curriculum, Martin, Michigan

Shaina Kasper, Toxics Action Center Campaigns, Montpelier, Vermont

Nada Khader, WESPAC Foundation, White Plains, New York

Kei Williams, Peoples Climate Movement – NY, Brooklyn, New York

Alan Bentz-Letts, Beloved Earth Community, The Riverside Church, New York, New York

Sarah Doll, Safer States, Portland, Oregon

Lorraine Ruffing, Assembly Point Water Quality Coalition, Lake George, New York

Juan Parras, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, Houston, Texas

Martha Torregrossa, Clean Air Action Network, Queensbury, New York

Doug Bullock, Solidarity Committee, Capital District, Albany, New York

Arthur Schwartz, NY Progressive Action Network, New York, New York

Laurie Valeriano, Toxic-Free Future, Seattle, Washington

Mary Beth Mylott, Bolton Coalition, Bolton Landing, New York

Christopher-Robin Healy, Warren County Zero Waste, Glens Falls, New York

Tessa Harber, Chevy Chase, Maryland

Jane Kana, Zero Waste Community, Queensbury, New York

Charlene Lemoine, Waukesha County Environmental Action League, Waukesha, Wisconsin

Goffinet McLaren, Chirping Birds Society, Pawleys Island, South Carolina

Julie Wash, Saratoga Unites, Inc., Saratoga Springs, New York

Lisa Adamson, Tricounty New York Transition, Glens Falls, Queensbury, Lake George, New York 

Mary Gutierrez, Earth Ethics, Inc., Pensacola, Florida

Sam Pearse, Story of Stuff Project, Berkeley, California

Teresa Kotturan, Sisters of Charity Federation, New York, New York

Ed Chadd, Olympic Climate Action, Port Angeles, Washington

Meryl Greer Domina, 359Kishwaukee, DeKalb, Illinoiis

Toni Jean, Lexington, Massachusetts 

Young Grguras, Post-Landfill Action Network, Philadelphia, PA

Wyldon King Fishman, New York Solar Energy Society, Bronx, New York

Matt Prindiville, UPSTREAM, Damariscotta, Maine

Liz Hitchcock, Safer Chemicals, Washington DC

Dianna Cohen, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Los Angeles, California 

Paul Burns, Vermont Public Interest Research Group, Montpelier, Vermont

Alex Cole, The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Huntington, West Virginia 

Michael Schade, Mind the Store, Brooklyn, New York

Kathy Curtis, Clean and Healthy New York, Albany, New York

Michele Baker, New York Water Project, Hoosick Falls, New York

Drea Leanza, Troy Zero Waste, Troy, New York

Paul Tick, News from the Neighborhood, Bethlehem, New York 

Rebecca Newberry, Clean Air Coalition, Buffalo, New York

Logan Welde, Clean Air Council, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Plastic Atlas demonstrates scale of plastic pollution crisis and solutions for a zero waste future 

Plastic Atlas demonstrates scale of plastic pollution crisis and solutions for a zero waste future 

49 detailed infographics over 19 chapters cover many aspects of plastic production, consumption and disposal.

Brussels/Manila/Washington D.C. Today, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Break Free From Plastic movement have published the international English edition of the Plastic Atlas, holding launch events in the European Parliament in Brussels (quotes EC-FVP Frans Timmermans, MEP Bas Eickhout further down), and in Washington D.C. and Manila.

The Plastic Atlas contains more than 49 detailed infographics covering a broad range of topics regarding the plastic pollution crisis looking along the entire value chain of plastic. The atlas highlights the scale of the crisis, and the global impacts of plastic production, consumption and disposal on other key global challenges such as human health and climate change. It also outlines the role of plastic for key industrial sectors such as agriculture and tourism and describes the corporate interests and drivers behind the plastic crisis. Finally, the Plastic Atlas presents an overview of key plastic-free regulations, zero waste solutions and a snapshot of the growing global movement working towards a future free from plastic pollution.

First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans emphasized: ”The European Union has made an important first step by banning some of the most polluting single use plastic products in Europe. We now need to continue our efforts to design products for reuse, improve waste management and recycling, and move towards a zero-pollution economic model. Valuable resources must be retained and recycled material used for making new products, not shipped abroad or sent up in smoke through an incinerator.”

The Heinrich Böll Foundation’s President Barbara Unmüßig called for global action to address the crisis at source: “A ban on single-use plastics makes sense but will not be sufficient to end one of the biggest environmental crises of the planet. Plastics began as a waste product of the petrochemical industry. Today, ExxonMobil, BASF, Eni, INEOS, and Dow are the biggest plastic producers worldwide with sales totaling 420 billion Euros per year,” Unmüßig said. “Instead of cutting down on this part of the business they have clear targets to increase plastic production over the coming years. The unlimited availability of cheap oil and gas as raw materials for plastic production prevents effective recycling strategies and blocks a real circular economy. Regional and global politics must hold the plastic industry accountable and define a clear and strict framework for the reduction of overall plastic production and consumption. However, circular-economy strategies are needed to make a lasting impact”, Unmüßig emphasized.

Lili Fuhr, Head of the International Environmental Policy Division of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and project leader for the Plastic Atlas said: “Since 99% of all plastics are made of fossil fuels and produce enormous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions along the entire lifecycle of plastic, it is clear that the solutions to the plastic and climate crisis need to go hand in hand. The petrochemical industry is planning a massive expansion of the plastic production infrastructure to flood the global market with yet more waste and toxics. Governments in Europe and North America must not allow this expansion to go ahead. As a first step, the EU must work to ban the import of fracked hydrocarbon feedstock for plastics from the US.”

Break Free From Plastic European Coordinator, Delphine Lévi Alvarès stated: “Europe plays a significant role in the plastic pollution crisis at almost every juncture. From the export of low-grade plastic waste to the global south where Europe avoids their responsibility of dealing with the waste that we create, to the European corporations such as Coca-Cola, Nestle and Unilever who are again and again cited as the top global producers of branded plastic pollution. Europe’s role in this crisis is ubiquitous. But Europe also has great potential to tackle plastic pollution at source, notably by enacting strong policies. This is the only way to achieve a circular economy and go above and beyond the Paris Agreement commitments.”

Bas Eickhout, Vice-Chair of the EP-Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (The Greens/EFA) and co-host of the Plastic-Atlas launch pointed out: “This plastic atlas shows the painful reality behind our plastic addiction, and there is no excuse to wait with the implementation of policies to cure it. Let me name a few: Bans on needless use of plastic. Strict eco-design rules to ensure that we use as little plastic as possible in the products that we make. New legislation to prevent the leakage of plastic pellets in our environment. Mandatory use of recycled instead of virgin plastic. And of course: a plastic tax. It’s time to walk the walk.”


NOTES

  1. Download the full Plastic Atlas:  www.boell.de/plasticatlas
  2. #breakfreefromplastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, nearly 1,800 organizations from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and to push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. These organizations share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, which guide their work at the community level and represent a global, unified vision. Sign up at www.breakfreefromplastic.org.
  3. The Heinrich Böll Foundation, as part of the Green political movement, is a catalyst for Green visions and projects, a think tank for policy reform, and an international network. We globally support and cooperate with partners promoting Democracy, human rights, socio-ecological transformation and gender justice. Find out more at https://www.boell.de/en.
Coca-Cola, Nestlé and PepsiCo named top plastic polluters for the second year in a row

Coca-Cola, Nestlé and PepsiCo named top plastic polluters for the second year in a row

October 23, 2019

Manila, Philippines – Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo are the top 3 most identified companies in global brand audits for the second year in a row, according to a new report “BRANDED Volume II: Identifying the World’s Top Corporate Plastic Polluters.”

Four hundred and eighty-four cleanups in over 50 countries and 6 continents, organised by the Break Free From Plastic movement in September, identified the top polluting companies. The rest of the companies rounding out the top 10 polluters are Mondelēz International, Unilever, Mars, P&G, Colgate-Palmolive, Phillip Morris, and Perfetti Van Melle.

“This report provides more evidence that corporations urgently need to do more to address the plastic pollution crisis they’ve created. Their continued reliance on single-use plastic packaging translates to pumping more throwaway plastic into the environment. Recycling is not going to solve this problem. Break Free From Plastic’s nearly 1,800 member organizations are calling on corporations to urgently reduce their production of single-use plastic and find innovative solutions focused on alternative delivery systems that do not create pollution,” said Von Hernandez, global coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic movement.

This year’s most frequently identified companies in the brand audits – Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo – have offered mostly false solutions to the plastics crisis, underscoring how important it is for voices from beyond the consumer goods sector to demand accountability and call for an end to single-use plastics. The list of top polluters is again filled with some of the world’s most commonly known brands.

“Recent commitments by corporations like Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo to address the crisis unfortunately continue to rely on false solutions like replacing plastic with paper or bioplastics and relying more heavily on a broken global recycling system. These strategies largely protect the outdated throwaway business model that caused the plastic pollution crisis, and will do nothing to prevent these brands from being named the top polluters again in the future,” said Abigail Aguilar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia plastic campaign coordinator.

“The products and packaging that brands like Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo are churning out is turning our recycling system into garbage. China has effectively banned the import of the US and other exporting countries’ ‘recycling,’ and other countries are following suit. Plastic is being burned in incinerators across the world, exposing communities to toxic pollution. We must continue to expose these real culprits of our plastic and recycling crisis,” said Denise Patel, US Coordinator for the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).

ENDS


NOTES

  1. This report is published under the responsibility of Greenpeace Philippines
  2. BRANDED Volume II: Identifying the World’s Top Corporate Plastic Polluters. (2019)
  3. 2018 Brand audit report:  Branded: In Search of the World’s Top Corporate Plastic Polluters, volume 1 (2018)
  4. A Greenpeace USA report titled Throwing Away the Future: How Companies Still Have It Wrong on Plastic Pollution “Solutions,” recently called out companies for opting for false solutions.

Contacts: 

Shilpi Chhotray, Break Free From Plastic Senior Communications Officer [Global/US]: shilpi@breakfreefromplastic.org, +1 703 400 9986

Jed Alegado, Break Free From Plastic Asia Pacific Communications Officer: jed@breakfreefromplastic.org, +63 917 607 0248

Matt Franklin, Break Free From Plastic European Communications Officer: matt@breakfreefromplastic.org, +44 792 337 3831

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