Press Release 3 July 2018
In conjunction of Plastic Bag Free Day on 3rd July, the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) distributed 200 free cloth bags made from discarded t-shirts to market-goers in Bagan Ajam Market in Butterworth, Penang. The event to mark the global day of action was a joint action with SMK Convent Butterworth and Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai. Demonstration on how to make reusable bags from old t-shirts was conducted by the students and teachers of SMK Convent Butterworth.
As a symbol of our disposable consumer society, single use plastic bags which is a plague to the environment, are still being widely used although there are certain prohibitions in place. For instance Penang was the first state in Malaysia to launch the “No Free Plastic Bag” campaign in July 2009. The ruling on no free plastic bag applies to a number of shopping outlets but exempts hawkers and wet markets.
Hence we still see a lot of plastic bags everywhere. Easily picked up by the wind plastic bags are a significant source of plastic pollution in the ocean, but they also cause major problems on the land, blocking drains and contributing to devastating floods. Consumers must realise that eliminating plastic bags is necessary to decrease the amount of waste and pollution.
The first step for consumers is always to bring reusable bags. Cloth bags made from old t-shirts are handy and can be washed and reused. To purchase wet items such as meat or fish, consumers can bring their own containers. Supermarkets should also allow customers to bring their own bags for purchasing vegetables, and not hand out thin plastic bags for each item that is purchased, as currently practised.
CAP calls for more rigorous implementation of existing prohibitions on plastic bags. We also need nation-wide ban on plastic bags as implemented in several countries. For example in Rwanda, it is illegal to import, produce, use or sell plastic bags and plastic packaging, except within specific industries like hospitals and pharmaceuticals.
The tough ban on plastic bags in Kenya since August 2017 has been successful in cleaning up the country, so much so that other east African nations Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan are considering following suit. In China a ban on thin plastic bags has led to a 60-80% reduction in their use in supermarkets. In Denmark and Finland the average annual consumption of lightweight plastic bags is 4 per person!
Life without plastic bags is possible, as observed in countries that have imposed strict bans. There is no excuse! It is time we get rid of single-use plastic bags for good!
S.M. MOHAMED IDRIS
Consumers Association of Penang (CAP)
10 Jalan Masjid Negeri
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For immediate release: Brussels, 3/07/18
Ariadna Rodrigo, Product Policy Campaigner, Zero Waste Europe: email@example.com +32 489 677 686
Justine Maillot, European Affairs Officer, Surfrider Foundation Europe: firstname.lastname@example.org +32 487 169 453
EU countries lag behind in phasing out single-use plastic bags and curbing plastic pollution, warn Surfrider Foundation Europe (SFE) and Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) on the 9th International Plastic Bag Free Day.
According to the report Still Finding Excuses? Time for Europe to act against plastic bag pollution, released today by SFE with contributions from ZWE , on the implementation of the EU legislation on plastic bag reduction adopted in 2015, more than 18 months after the deadline for transposition the measures adopted remain largely insufficient in many Member States.
Justine Maillot, European Affairs Officer at Surfrider Foundation Europe, said: “In too many EU countries the measures adopted so far are at best half-hearted. There is no excuse for further delay. Governments must raise their level of ambition to match the urgency of the plastic pollution crisis and the concerns of EU citizens” .
Rather than banning single-use plastic bags, most countries have opted for either voluntary agreements with the retailers or for a charge on lightweight carrier plastic bags, which in some countries will only come into effect next year. Although a tax can have an impact on consumers behaviour, ZWE and SFE highlight how phasing out single-use plastic bags will require a restriction on the supply side. In addition, in many countries the charge is often too low, or limited to too few retailers, to really spur change. A lack of control and enforcement is also hindering real change on the ground.
“The lack of ambition from many governments is at odds with the commitments to tackle plastic pollution worldwide, and with the “race to the top” called for by the European Commission”, said Ariadna Rodrigo, Product Policy Campaigner at Zero Waste Europe . For ZWE and SFE, this is also a missed opportunity, as where ambitious measures, such as bans, have been implemented, they have been successful in reducing plastic bags consumption and largely supported by citizens .
The report also highlights concerns regarding the exemption from any tax or restriction for very lightweight plastic bags, as well as bio-based and biodegradable bags. ZWE and SFE highlight how this constitutes a major contradiction in the fight against plastic bag pollution and throw-away culture, and emphasise that existing reusable alternatives, such as tote bags or baskets, must be prioritised.
SFE and ZWE, as members of the Break Free From Plastic global movement , call on Member States to urgently implement the EU Plastic Bag Directive and put an end to plastic bag pollution, in line with the EU strategy on plastics and the promotion of a true circular economy.
Zero Waste Europe calls now on Member States to promptly transpose the adopted safeguards and to exclude any support for fuels from plastic, so as to ensure compliance with EU legislation.
 Still Finding Excuses? Time for Europe to act against plastic bag pollution, 2018, Surfrider Foundation Europe
 Eurobarometer October 2017 shows that 87% of EU citizens are worried about the impact of plastic on the environment http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/ResultDoc/download/DocumentKy/81259
 European strategy on plastics in a circular economy, published on 16 January 2018: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/pdf/plastics-strategy-brochure.pdf;
Proposal for a directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, published on 28 May 2018: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/pdf/single-use_plastics_proposal.pdf
Early June, the Indian government pledged to ban all single-use plastics by 2022.
 In Italy, since the introduction of the ban in 2011, the consumption of plastic bags has reduced by more than 50%.
 Break Free From Plastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, over 1,279 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 organisations share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, which guide their work at the community level and represent a global, unified vision.
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“Thermal waste-to-energy facilities will not solve our waste problems but rather make things worse. Despite claims to the contrary, these facilities release toxic chemicals—including dioxins and furans—which are very harmful both to human health and the environment, said Dr. Emmanuel.
In a forum organized by the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, Dr. Emmanuel explained that dioxins are toxic at extremely low concentrations and stay in the environment for a long time. “Dioxins released today by an incinerator or WtE will affect not only you and your children, but many generations hence,” he emphasized.
“Dioxins are among the most toxic chemicals known to science. They can cause several types of cancer, reproductive disorders, and developmental problems,” he warned.
One of his concerns is that operators of these technologies only test their dioxin emissions once or twice a year yet the results of continuous monitoring of dioxins show that quarterly or even monthly tests may miss episodes of very high releases since dioxins are not emitted uniformly. Furthermore, thermal waste-to-energy projects compel communities to produce more waste rather than reduce waste.
Several lawmakers from both the House of Representatives and the Senate have proposed changes to the Clean Air Act of 1999 (RA 8749) in a bid to lift the ban on waste incineration. A bill in the House of Representatives has already passed the third reading this year while a counterpart legislation is being proposed in the Senate.
Green groups belonging to No Burn Pilipinas echoed the same concerns on the planned repeal of the incineration ban. Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of Ecowaste Coalition Philippines, said the Congress should rather focus on strengthening the Ecological Solid Waste Management (RA 9003) by passing measures aimed at waste prevention and reduction. “These measures include banning single-use plastic bags, disallowing recyclable and compostable materials in disposal facilities, curbing e-waste, incentivizing innovations in waste management sector,” she added.
For Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of the #breakfreefromplastic movement, legislations that ban plastic bags and single-use plastics at the national level are key steps towards the right direction that the Philippine government should pursue instead of building “waste-to-energy” incinerator facilities.
“The number of governments and institutions worldwide taking aggressive action to stop the use of single-use plastics continues to grow by the day. This is one area where the Philippines can demonstrate leadership, by also banning and phasing out the use of disposable plastic items like bags, cups, straws, styrofoam food containers, and cutlery nationwide. The fact that these single-use plastics keep ending up in our oceans, coastal areas, and dumpsites prove that they are problematic, unrecyclable, and impossible to manage,” Hernandez said.
For Sonia Mendoza, chairperson of Mother Earth Foundation (MEF), the push to revoke the incineration ban will undermine source segregation, recycling, and other Zero Waste strategies that conserve resources, avoid toxic pollution and generate livelihoods.
“Zero Waste is still the best approach for the sustainable management of discards,” Mendoza remarked. “Waste is a complex problem that can’t be solved by a machine that burns trash and merely converts solid waste to toxic air pollution. The government should support and invest in Zero Waste approaches instead of partnering with incinerator companies that sell false solutions to cities and municipalities.”
During the forum, Councilor Benedict Jasper Lagman of the City of San Fernando, Pampanga, also called on the national government to dump waste-to-energy incineration deals and instead strengthen Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. He narrated the experience of the City of San Fernando which initially entered into a gasification facility deal in 2006 but eventually decided to pursue Zero Waste strategies and succeeded.
“San Fernando’s Zero Waste strategy is, at its core, the implementation of RA 9003. Together with other cities in the country that have pledged to go Zero Waste, we are showing that ecological waste management and Zero Waste is possible and can be implemented nationally,” Lagman said.
In partnership with Mother Earth Foundation, the city was able to drastically reduce the volume of municipal waste in just six months. In the past, the city brought almost 90% of its waste to landfills. In the last four years with a Zero Waste program which includes segregation at source and composting of organics, this figure was reduced to 30%, resulting in huge savings for the city. Following San Fernando’s example, other cities such as Tacloban City, Malabon City, and General Mariano Alvarez in Cavite have also started implementing Zero Waste strategies.
The forum was organized by the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources together with No Burn Pilipinas, a coalition of more than 50 Philippine NGOs opposing waste incineration. The main convenors of No Burn Pilipinas are #breakfreefromplastic, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Greenpeace Philippines, Health Care Without Harm Asia, and Mother Earth Foundation Philippines. //ends
Sherma Benosa, Communications Officer, GAIA Asia Pacific | +639178157570 | email@example.com
Jed Alegado, Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic | +639176070248 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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2 July 2018, Manila City/Quezon City. Environmental advocates staged a “Bboom Bboom” dance showdown at the promenade by the famed but badly polluted Manila Bay to call attention to the global plastic crisis and press for a national ban on single-use plastics.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit association for a zero waste and toxics-free Philippines, organized the dance face-off together with allies from the #breakfreefromplastic movement to mark the International Plastic Bags Free Day on July 3, a special day to raise awareness about the adverse environmental impacts of single-use plastics, and promote sustainable alternatives. The activity also forms part of a series of events worldwide to celebrate plastic-free July, a month of global activity demonstrating solidarity around living our lives without single-use plastic.
The gang of “Ocean Polluters” donning plastic trash faced off with the league of “Ocean Defenders” who were seen brandishing handwoven native “bayong” bags and reusable cloth bags. The youth performers are members of Green Stage Filipinas-Maskara, an affiliate group of the EcoWaste Coalition from Cavite.
“This fun event has a very serious message for everyone: it’s time to ban single-use plastics from shopping bags to drinking straws to halt the destructive plastic incursion of the oceans that has already reached crisis proportions. The marine ecosystems are choking to death because of the plastic wastes and the cocktail of chemicals that are increasingly dumped into water bodies,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Our lawmakers must heed the signs of the times such as the plastic clogged esteros and the eight million tonnes of plastic spilled into the seas every year and take strong action against the unnecessary applications of plastics,” she said.
Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of the Break Free from Plastic Movement, noted: “The number of governments and institutions worldwide taking aggressive action to stop the use of single-use plastics continues to grow by the day. This is one area where the Philippines can demonstrate leadership by also banning and phasing-out the use of disposable plastic items like bags, cups, straws, styrofoam food containers, and cutlery nationwide.”
“The fact that these single-use plastics keep ending up in our oceans, coastal areas and dumpsites prove they are problematic, unrecyclable, and almost impossible to manage. Besides, binging on the use of plastic items that one uses for only a matter of minutes and yet will outlive us by hundreds of years is just plain absurd and irresponsible,” he pointed out.
“As we grapple with the magnitude of the plastic pollution problem we are facing right now, our government should work double time to solve this crisis. We are counting on Senators Loren Legarda and Juan Miguel Zubiri and other legislators from both the House of Representatives and the Senate to join forces and get a national legislation banning single-use plastics enacted by the current Congress,” said Angelica Carballo Pago, Media Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines.
Legarda and Zubiri last month publicly declared their support for a legislation that will prohibit single-use plastics.
Having signed up to the UN Environment’s #CleanSeas campaign against marine litter, the government should waste no time and make the banning of single-use plastics a national priority to protect fish, a staple food for Filipinos, as well as fish-based livelihoods, which plays a key role in the country’s food security, the groups said.
As the desired law is being prepared, the groups appealed to the industries to reduce plastic packaging, design toxic chemicals and wastes out of processes and products, and take responsibility for their products at the end of their lifecycle, including their retrieval and recycling.
The groups further reiterated the need for consumers to stop the superfluous uses of plastics and aim for plastic waste prevention and reduction instead of the typical buy-use-throw habit.
According to some studies, if plastic waste spillage from land sources is not discontinued, by 2050 oceans will have more plastic than fish.
Break Free From Plastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, over 1,200 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.
EcoWaste Coalition is a non-government and non-profit network of community, church, school, environmental and health groups engaged in the promotion and protection of public health and the environment toward the envisioned zero waste and toxics-free society.
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The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) are pleased that Penang will embark on a ban of plastic straws and other single-use plastic food and drink containers after Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow gave local authorities carte blanche to execute such policies to preserve the environment.
The proposal by the Penang government and local authorities is the way forward as the growing reliance on plastic to meet our culture of convenience is a bane to the state and the planet. In the past, CAP and SAM have observed and received complaints regarding the excessive use of plastic food and drink containers, disposable cutlery, straws, take-out containers in food outlets. This practice not only increases the amount of waste to be disposed but subsequently impacts the environment, economy and public health.
Globally, an average of eight million tons of plastic escapes collection systems, winding up in the environment and eventually the ocean. Hence, it is essential that the single-use, throw away culture end. The best alternative is to replace plastic products with reusable/refillable products.
Restaurants and food service establishments can solve the problem of plastic pollution by switching from disposable plastic for washable, reusable utensils. For take-outs, customers should use their own utensils. The local authorities can expedite these changes by banning plastic and other disposable utensils.
The movement to ban straws and other single-use plastics are growing all over the world. In March 2018, the Maharashtra government in India had announced its ban on plastic bags, water bottles and other disposable plastic items and started implementing the prohibition beginning 23 June this year.
Taiwan is planning a blanket ban on single-use plastic items including straws, cups and shopping bags by 2030. In May 2018, the European Commission proposed banning single-use plastic products such as cotton buds and plastic straws and putting the burden of cleaning up waste on manufacturers in an effort to reduce marine litter.Vancouver, Scotland, and other cities in the United States of America have also announced plastic straw bans and pending ban legislations.
The RefillNotLandfill movement in Cambodia aims to cut down on millions of plastic water bottles discarded by tourists and locals. The alternative offered is reusable aluminium bottles that can be refilled free of charge at designated venues across the country. This campaign has expanded to Myanmar and Laos. We can learn from this initiative to reduce the use of plastic water bottles.
Whilst States and consumers are taking positive initiatives, producers must also be compelled to take responsibility for the full life-cycle costs and impacts of their products and packaging, and must redesign and innovate safer materials and systems. Businesses must start transitioning and usher in alternatives that are reusable.
CAP and SAM urge the Federal government to enact legislation to impose a nationwide ban on plastic straws, carry bags, water bottles, stirrers, utensils, toothpicks, sachets, food wrap sheets, polystyrene packaging and food containers. Both the local authorities in Penang must expedite implementation of the proposed bans and lead the way to address the plastic pollution in the state and country.
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