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.
However, reduction targets missing and collection targets delayed, campaigners warn
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brussels, 19/12/2018
After months of intense negotiations, the EU has agreed much-anticipated laws to slash single-use plastics in the EU. The agreed text is a significant step forward in tackling plastic pollution, but does not fully address the urgency of the plastics crisis, according to Rethink Plastic and Break Free From Plastic.
“The EU deserves praise for being the first region to introduce new laws to reduce single-use plastics and slash plastic pollution in our fields, rivers and oceans. What’s less laudable is that the plastics lobby – backed up by some governments – was able to delay and weaken the ambition,” said Meadhbh Bolger, resource justice campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe on behalf of Rethink Plastic. “Citizens across Europe want to see an end to our throwaway culture and politicians have taken the first step. The time is ripe for Europe to transition away from single-use plastics to reusables.”
The final measures adopted  include:
Bans on several single-use plastic items including plates, cutlery and expanded polystyrene food containers and beverage cups
Ensuring manufacturers pay for waste management and clean-up of several single-use plastic items, including cigarette butts and fishing gear
However, the agreement falls short of what is needed to fully tackle the plastics crisis in key areas including:
No binding EU-wide target to reduce the consumption of food containers and cups, and no obligation for EU countries to adopt targets
A delay of four years on ensuring 90% of plastic bottles are collected separately – from 2025 to 2029
“The new laws are a significant first blow to the plastic pollution monster” said Delphine Lévi Alvarès, European Coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic movement. “However, their impact depends on the implementation by our national governments who must immediately adopt ambitious targets to cut single-use plastics, and ensure producers pay for their pollution. The public call to stop plastic pollution is loud and strong, it is unacceptable to ignore it.”
Tomorrow, December 20, national Environment Ministers are expected to sign off on the agreed Directive. Member States will have two years to transpose it into national laws, which should come into force at the beginning of 2021 at the latest.
A EU-wide ban of single-use plastic cotton buds, straws, plates, cutlery, beverage stirrers, balloon sticks, oxo-degradable plastics, and expanded polystyrene food containers and beverage cups
Extended Producer Responsibility schemes meaning manufacturers (including big tobacco companies and top polluters from the packaging industry like Coca Cola, Pepsico and Nestle) pay for the costs of waste management, clean up and awareness-raising measures for certain single-use plastics including plastic cigarette filters – the most littered item in Europe (by January 2023 for most items)
A possibility for EU countries to adopt market restrictions for food containers and cups for beverages
An obligation for EU countries to reduce post-consumption waste from tobacco product filters containing plastic
For fishing gear, an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme and a requirement for Member States to monitor collection rates and set national collection targets
Ensure all beverage bottles are produced from 30% recycled content by 2030
Labelling on the presence of plastics in a product and resulting environmental impacts of littering, and on the appropriate waste disposal options for that product
What’s not so good:
No binding EU-wide target to reduce the consumption of food containers and cups, and no obligation for EU countries to adopt targets either; instead, countries must “significantly reduce” their consumption, leaving it vague and open
A delay of 4 years in achieving the 90% collection target of beverage containers, from 2025 to 2029, with an intermediary target of 77% by 2025
Allowing for EU countries to choose to achieve consumption reduction and certain EPR measures through voluntary agreements between industry and authorities
A 3 year delay to make sure plastic drinks containers have their caps/lids attached to the containers – from 2021 to 2024
These measures apply to all single-use plastics listed in the Directive’s Annexes including bio-based and biodegradable plastics.
SumOfUs, Global2000 and #aufstehn demand EU plastics directive not be weakened at the last moment
Vienna, 5 Dezember 2018 – Today, Global consumer group SumOfUs, environmental organisation Global 2000 and the activist group #aufstehn delivered a petition with nearly 70,000 signatures to Elisabeth Köstinger, President of the EU Council, asking her to ensure that the EU Plastics Directive is passed in order to reduce single-use plastics and makes corporations pay for the plastic waste they are responsible for.
The EU Plastics Directive aims at drastically reducing pollution from single-use plastics in the oceans and the environment. Important details of the directive are still discussed, namely reduction goals and quotas, as well as how businesses will be held accountable and have to pay for the plastic waste they produce.
“We need to make sure that this ambitious plastics directive is not weakened at the last moment because of corporate lobbying,” saidEoin Dubsky, Campaign Manager for SumOfUs.
“We are urging Secretary Köstinger to follow through on fighting plastic waste and use the next two years,” added Lisa Kernegger of Global 2000. “In order to make sure that happens, we need to make sure that the EU has a strong plastics directive without weak compromises for wealthy corporations. Any implementation of this directive can only be as good as the policies within it . This is true for Austria, and of course for the rest of Europe.”.
“We’ve fought hard for a strict plastics directive over for the last several few months. Köstinger is the Austrian environmental secretary, and now it’s her chance to make sure this law won’t be watered down”, said Johanna Morandell of #aufstehn.
Dumaguete, Philippines – Silliman University (SU), a private university in the central part of the Philippines, is implementing a new policy that eliminates single-use plastic bags and aims towards Zero Waste, the first university in the country to do so. SU’s new environmental policy was approved unanimously by its Board of Trustees (BOT) on November 17.
The university’s commitment to the prevention of environmental pollution, conservation and enhancement of natural resources, and sustainability is defined in the Environmental Principles, Policies, Guidelines and Best Practices that the SU BOT has adopted in full.
SU’s environmental policy will translate to action the university’s recognition of its calling to be a community of stewards of creation, and is in line with its perspective of “total human development for the well-being of society and environment.” The university seeks to be a model of a sustainable campus “by demonstrating the principles of Zero Waste, the waste management hierarchy, energy conservation and renewable energy utilization, biodiversity conservation, and a reduced carbon footprint.”
The policy provides for the application of environmental principles in five policy areas: waste prevention and management, green procurement, food and food waste, events and festivals, and greening of the campus. It reiterates the university’s belief that everyone is a stakeholder and has a role to play in sustainability, and therefore “engages the whole Silliman community, the city we live in, and beyond.”
By being a model and incorporating environmental issues into its teaching, research, and community service, Silliman hopes that students entering the university will leave with a deeper commitment to sustainability and with the competence to protect the environment wherever their lives may take them.
One immediate focus of Silliman University starting this semester is to improve on-campus waste management, announced SU president Betty Cernol-McCann during the All-University Academic Convocation on November 19.
“The practice of proper waste management in the University shall be effective immediately,” said Dr. McCann. “Henceforth, all trash cans will be properly labeled and faculty, staff, and students will be asked to segregate waste accordingly. Waste Management Committee members and volunteers will visit each building to label bins and provide instructions on segregation.” All biodegradable wastes from the campus, she said, will be composted with the assistance of the College of Agriculture. Meanwhile, reuse and recycling of all recyclable materials will be maximized.
Another immediate focus of the University is to minimize plastic waste. “We will intensify our drive against one-use plastics and prohibit bringing to campus containers and wrappers that contribute heavily to waste pollution,” Dr. McCann added. In support of the international Break Free From Plastics movement, she said, a consistent media campaign and Information, Education and Communication strategy will be employed to disseminate information on the policies and guidelines associated with this objective.
The blueprint for action was developed by a team led by Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences (IEMS) and a Balik Scientist under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). Questions or suggestions may be sent to the Waste Management Committee coordinated by the office of the SU president. The full text of the SU Environmental Principles, Policies, Guidelines, and Best Practices is available at: http://su.edu.ph/silliman-university-environmental-principles-policy-and-guidelines-2018/
Producer responsibility requirements must be stronger, campaigners warn
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brussels, 26/11/2018
“The fight against plastic pollution is one that we can win. The EU plastics laws initiated by the Commission and endorsed by the Parliament are a first step towards a future where plastic doesn’t poison us. If we commit to this together, nobody loses, everybody wins“, said European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans at a press conference today. “The industry is clearly now focusing its energy on the EU Council. It’s up to the Austrian presidency to resist, and maintain the level of ambition initiated by the Commission, and reinforced by Parliament. This is the perfect slot in our history to impulse the virtuous change demanded by citizens. Disappointing them would be tragic”, added Frédérique Ries, who represents the European Parliament in the negotiations on the single-use plastics law.
Mr Timmermans and Ms Ries were speaking beside a three-metre tall dragon spewing single-use plastic litter collected in beach clean-ups, which will stay in front of the Council till Wednesday.
“The Commission and Parliament plan would deal a significant first blow to the monster of plastic pollution, but this plan is at risk. Consumption of throwaway plastic needs to be cut drastically, and the companies making money on the back of this pollution must also be held responsible. If governments don’t ensure the polluter pays, they side with the dragon” said Delphine Lévi Alvarès, European Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic .
Campaigners warned that national governments risk weakening ambitious extended producer responsibility (EPR), whereby producers would cover costs for clean-up of litter, for management of plastic waste , as well as for awareness raising. Notably, countries may attempt to delay EPR implementation by four years, and exempt waste management costs for some items including the most littered plastic item in Europe: tobacco filters.
“We are at a turning point. Member States must break with short-termism, by holding producers accountable and supporting ambitious prevention and collection measures for fishing gear as well as single-use plastics. EU institutions have the unique chance to spearhead global action on swift and effective solutions to curb plastic pollution.” said Frédérique Mongodin, Seas At Risk senior marine litter policy officer, on behalf of Rethink Plastic. 
On November 28, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council are meeting for a second round of negotiations on single-use plastics laws. The third and last negotiation round is to take place on December 18.
Hamburg, Germany, 22 November 2018 – To disrupt Black Friday and Cyber Monday as major international moments for consumerism, Greenpeace and partners launch MAKE SMTHNG Week (November 23 – December 2). With more than 300 events in 41 countries, MAKE SMTHNG Week asks people to #BuyNothing and #MakeSmthng instead.
“We are already drowning in stuff – stuffed wardrobes, garages, and kitchens – yet we keep on shopping for more fashion, gadgets, food, single-use plastic, toys, and cars. With our throwaway lifestyles we are fuelling climate change, pollution and the destruction of people’s homes and irreplaceable natural wonders. MAKE SMTHNG Week offers a fun and creative way out of this wasteful consumerism,” said Robin Perkins, Make SMTHNG campaigner at Greenpeace.
“By sharing, caring, and repairing things we can make more of what we already own and give our beautiful planet a break,” he added.
Events include making sustainable Christmas presents, living a plastic-free life, community repair cafes, books and clothes swaps, and zero waste cooking — in 32 countries from Qatar to Peru, Canada, India, Germany, Italy, UK, South Africa and Spain.
“Shopping does not make us happy. But being with friends and people, learning new skills, and valuing what we already have, does. So this Black Friday, buy nothing and make something!” said Perkins.
“Large corporations continue to put profits first, while they reduce the quality, repairability and versatility of their products. Through omnipresent advertising we are told, again and again, to buy more and more stuff we don’t need. Companies won’t change unless we show them people want something different. Together we have to build something that will make this outdated, wasteful model obsolete,” added Perkins. ENDS