Greenpeace Ships Set Sail to Tackle the Global Plastic Pollution Crisis

Greenpeace Ships Set Sail to Tackle the Global Plastic Pollution Crisis

Corporations have created a plastic monster. More than 90 percent of the plastics ever produced have not been recycled, yet corporations have plans to dramatically increase their production of plastic packaging. With plastic production set to quadruple by 2050, recycling can never be enough to solve this problem.

But the global movement to hold these corporations accountable is growing. More than 3 million of you have joined us in urging companies to stop polluting our planet with throwaway plastic. And together with over 1,400 allies in the global Break Free From Plastic movement, we conducted 239 cleanups in 42 countries to identify the biggest corporate polluters.

In October, Greenpeace International released the Crisis of Convenience report, based on a survey to 11 of the biggest fast-moving consumer goods companies globally. Despite some of these companies publicly signing a voluntary, non-binding commitment to tackle the crisis, the report revealed that none of the companies surveyed currently have comprehensive plans to move away from single-use packaging; on the contrary, most of them have plans to increase the overall amount of plastic packaging they produce.

So now we are deploying the Greenpeace ships; the Rainbow Warrior and the Beluga, to tell the global story of where plastic pollution really starts and ends. We are rallying supporters worldwide to help hold these companies accountable and to make sure they follow up on their words with bold action. Because we don’t need more talk—we need concrete, urgent action to stop plastic pollution at the source!

greenpeace-rainbow-warrior

Greenpeace’s flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, has been surrounded by giant single-use plastic items in Mediterranean waters. The action seeks to make visible the invisible, and to denounce the problem of plastic pollution in the oceans, especially in the Mediterranean Sea.

Greenpeace’s flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, has been surrounded by giant single-use plastic items in Mediterranean waters. The action seeks to make visible the invisible, and to denounce the problem of plastic pollution in the oceans, especially in the Mediterranean Sea.

It’s time for Nestlé, Unilever, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo., Colgate, Danone, Johnson & Johnson and Mars to be transparent about exactly how much plastic packaging they are producing, and make concrete plans to reduce. It’s time for these corporations to invest in alternative ways to deliver their products to us and phase out single-use plastic.

These companies have created a monster, and we are not willing to allow the plastic monster to grow anymore. We need concrete plans for reduction, and we need them now. We need corporations to slay the plastic monster.

 

Stay tuned for more details about Greenpeace’s ships’ whereabouts in the coming weeks and months and to see how you can get involved!

Graham Forbes is Greenpeace’s global seafood markets project leader. Originally posted in EcoWatch.

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EU moves to ban microplastics in most products

EU moves to ban microplastics in most products

(Photo by MPCA Photos)

 

This press release was originally issued by the Rethink Plastic alliance. The European policy alliance of the #breakfreefromplastic movement.

Brussels, 30 January 2019 – The EU will use its powerful chemical laws to stop most microplastics and microbeads being added to cosmetics, paints, detergents, some farm, medical and other products, according to a draft law due to be tabled today.

The European Chemicals Agency says that 10,000 to 60,000 tonnes of microplastics intentionally added to products leak into the environment yearly, are impossible to remove and last for thousands of years. The scale of the problem is dramatic: six times the size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or the plastic pollution generated by 10 billion plastic bottles, the agency says. Microplastics accumulate and persist in the environment, one of the main reasons why the agency concluded it is necessary to restrict microplastic ingredients under REACH, the strictest set of chemical laws in the world.

The restriction is expected to become law across Europe by 2020. It will prevent an estimated 400,000 tonnes of plastic pollution, the agency says. NGOs welcomed the move as a significant step forward, but strongly warn that it grants unnecessary delays for most industrial sectors and excludes some biodegradable polymers. As it stands, the draft law will only restrict one sector when it comes into force, namely cleansing products made by firms that have already pledged to stop using microplastic. Other sectors will be granted 2-6 years before the law takes effect. The proposal will go to public consultation this summer followed by economic, social and risk assessments, then a vote by government experts in the secretive REACH committee not before early 2020.

Elise Vitali, chemicals policy officer for the European Environmental Bureau, said on behalf of Rethink Plastic: “The European Union is rapidly becoming a leader in the global culture shift away from wasteful plastic. Microplastic is one of those vast but largely invisible problems; a menace all around and in us. It was fed by irresponsible firms, such as those making personal care products that decided to swap out natural ingredients like ground almond, coconut shell and olive seed for plastic microbeads. We’ll be pushing hard to tighten this proposal to ensure real impact. Tackling the plastics inside products is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to solving the microplastic blight, but is a necessary step.”

The ban is part of the EU plastics strategy that saw Europe become the first continent to start banning many types of single use plastic by 2021.

ENDS

PRESS CONTACTS:

Roberta Arbinolo, Communications Coordinator, Rethink Plastic alliance
 +32 2 736 20 91roberta@rethinkplasticalliance.eu

Elise Vitali, chemicals policy officer, European Environmental Bureau
elise.vitali@eeb.org

Alice Bernard, Lawyer, Chemicals, ClientEarth
ABernard@clientearth.org

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FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Read the proposal and the annex.

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Silliman University Commits to Zero Waste and Sustainability

Silliman University Commits to Zero Waste and Sustainability

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/  

//ends

Contact: Madeline B. Quiamco, PhD

Office of Information and Publications

Phone:    +63-35-420.6002 extension 230

Email:     oip@su.edu.ph

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Photo Essay: By The Ocean We Unite

Photo Essay: By The Ocean We Unite

Photo: @estrellafb

by: Anouk Van De Beek

Imagine being on a sailing ship, only seeing the ocean’s vastness, working with the elements, no other distractions whatsoever. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 2014 Dutch sailor Thomas van Thiel was already ten days out on the open sea when he suddenly saw a plastic bottle floating around. He was shocked, seeing something man-made that far from civilization. He started to see plastic everywhere and decided to take action. By the ocean we unite was born – a foundation that contributes to research worldwide, creates awareness and educates and activates people, organisations and governments to make much needed changes. It only takes one decision to start a whole movement.

The Mediterranean is one of the most polluted seas of the world. If on this tiny piece of the earth along the coast we easily fill up a bag with garbage that big that we literally have to push it through the door of our campervan, we can only feel confronted with our own behaviour; this is how we are treating the earth. It is not them, it is all of us, it is everywhere. 80% of all the waste in our oceans comes from land. Start cleaning your environment whenever you can! It is not THE solution. Letting the plastics go through your own hands does make you feel part of the problem, it makes you feel responsible. You’ll start to think of solutions, preventing more plastic from ending up in the ocean by reducing it at source.

 

You can see the whole documentary online, for free! www.anoukvandebeek.com

In 2016 it all came together: my love for the ocean, my desire to experience filmmaking and the need I felt to communicate a message about humans and the ocean. Thomas from By The Ocean We Unite asked me to join him and tell the world about the ocean. One subject stayed with us, it was tangible, we could not neglect it: plastic. This planet is a blue planet, seen from space. What happens when the biggest part of our planet is filled up with plastic in the form of bigger plastics, micro plastics and nano plastics? Our journey had started, we gathered a team for our first sailing expedition ‘Up to Norway’. By now, so many awesome people have joined us on our mission, Ziggy Alberts being one of them. His song ‘The Ocean Song’ immediately came to my mind when I started to make ‘By the Ocean we Unite – an awareness journey into plastic pollution’.

Throwing away is something we do naturally, it is part of the cycle of life. The problem is that ‘away’ is not ‘away’ when we talk about plastic. It can easily take more than a lifetime for it to disappear. By that time it will have killed animals and polluted our environment. Even many biodegradable products will only degrade under certain circumstances and not in the open environment, let alone in the ocean, where most of the waste from land ends up anyway. On the contrary, throwing away a piece of apple or carrot will contribute to a nice compost for our plants and trees, building a healthy soil. These days I am enjoying throwing away organic material and compost it. . Start throwing away more things that benefit the earth! Grow your own food, start to plant trees and buy more plastic free products.

 

 

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Starbucks CEO Invited To See Where Strawless Lid Will Actually End Up

Starbucks CEO Invited To See Where Strawless Lid Will Actually End Up

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Recyclers and Zero-Waste Advocates Debunk Starbucks’ Claims that New Lid Will Be “Recycled”

The #breakfreefromplastic global movement invites Starbucks CEO Kevin Thompson to see where Starbucks trash ends up: much of it across South East Asia.

In an effort to quell growing concerns about Starbucks wasteful packaging, the company just announced to much fanfare that it would phase out plastic straws and replace them with “recyclable” plastic lids. In fact, the same type of plastic Starbucks claims is “recyclable” is being sent to landfills across the nation, or shipped to countries like Malaysia or Vietnam– where it becomes pollution. “Starbucks’ claims about the ability of #5 plastics to be ‘widely recycled’ are bankrupt,” says Stiv Wilson, Director of Campaigns at the Story of Stuff Project. “This incredible attention to a single product isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it isn’t quite a good thing either if it doesn’t lead to broader, systemic change in how the world makes, uses, and disposes of the most ubiquitous material in commerce today—plastic,” he added.

As companies like Starbucks are increasingly under fire for their contribution to the plastic pollution crisis, they have primarily relied on recycling as the solution to their wasteful packaging, despite its many flaws. As a result, the US has been sending even larger quantities of “recyclable” plastic to China, causing the tremendous environmental damage that led the country to close its doors. Now the US has started sending its plastic waste to other countries in Asia, sparking these countries to enact similar bans and restrictions.

“Recycling alone is not going to solve the plastic pollution crisis,” said Greenpeace Plastics Campaigner Kate Melges. “In fact, relying on a recycling system that is failing in the U.S. and facing bans overseas will make the problem worse. To date, only 9% of all plastic ever made has been recycled. It is time for companies to move beyond flashy PR moves and start significantly reducing their production of plastic and investing in reuse alternatives.”

In many of the countries Starbuck has stores, there is little to no recycling infrastructure. Not only do Starbucks’ branded straws, hot cups, cold cups, and lids show up in beach cleanups, according to the global trash app, Litterati, Starbucks branded products are easily in the top three of brands identified globally if not number one.

With that in mind, the #breakfreefromplastic movement invites Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson to visit the communities in Southeast Asia most impacted by the plastic waste created by companies headquartered in the global north.

“The type of plastic pollution we’re seeing in Southeast Asia are produced by global corporations headquartered in North America and Europe,” said Break Free From Plastic’s Global Coordinator Von Hernandez. “While these are the countries that are being blamed for plastic pollution, the ones that are really pushing production are companies located in the global north. They need to bear the responsibility for this waste.”

The deceptiveness of industry’s recycling pledges has hampered progress towards real solutions to the plastic crisis. Monica Wilson, Research and Policy Director at GAIA, states, “We call on Starbucks to be responsible for its own products and packaging and to stop pretending the plastic flooding the market is actually getting recycled.”

For press inquiries, please contact:

Shilpi Chhotray, #breakfreefromplastic, shilpi@breakfreefromplastic.org, 703-400-9986

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

Perry Wheeler, Greenpeace, perry.wheeler@greenpeace.org, 301-675-8766

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On World Environment Day, green groups in Asia call for corporations to clean up their mess

On World Environment Day, green groups in Asia call for corporations to clean up their mess

From May 16 to 26, ten GAIA member organizations and partners conducted clean-up and waste and brand audits in 18 states in India. Photo courtesy of V Recycle, Goa.

As the Indian government hosts this year’s World Environment Day under the banner, “Beat Plastic Pollution,” 10 environmental groups across different cities and regions of India—Bengaluru, Chennai, Darjeeling, Dehradun, Delhi, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Kolkata, Leh, Mumbai, Nagaland, Pune, Sikkim, and Trivandrum—conducted unprecedented and coordinated waste and brand audits as a critical first step in identifying top corporate polluters and holding them accountable.

The results of these audits are remarkably similar to audits done in Indonesia and the Philippines, which showed that multilayered plastics accounted for nearly half of branded plastics audited.  Across the three countries, a total of 72,721 pieces of branded plastic waste were picked and analyzed, close to 75% of which was food packaging. The rest was household and personal care packaging.

After the 21-day brand audit in India, PepsiCo was found to be the top multinational polluter. Perfetti van Melle and Unilever came in as second and third, respectively. Other multinational corporations in the top 10 list are Coca-Cola, Mondelez, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, and Ferrero SpA. Among Indian companies, Amul, Britannia, ITC, Parle, and Haldiram are  in the top 10 list. In audits conducted in multiple cities in the Philippines and Indonesia, Unilever, Procter and Gamble, Nestle, PT Torabika, Colgate-Palmolive, and Coca-Cola are among the top 10 multinational polluters.

“For far too long, multinational companies have been making billions of dollars from selling products that come in single-use low-value plastic packaging with no regard to how the resulting waste is managed,” said Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of the #breakfreefromplastic movement. “The corporations responsible for the proliferation of these single-use, zero-value, and non-recyclable plastics need to own up to the massive pollution associated with their brands and products. They must clean up their act and start investing in alternative packaging materials and delivery systems that are ecologically sustainable for the people and the planet,” he added.

While clean-ups tend to be a feel-good activity that help raise awareness about plastic pollution, they fail to stop plastic pollution or identify and hold accountable those responsible for pollution. “We’re sick and tired of being blamed and of cleaning up the mess produced by corporations. By identifying who’s behind the waste that’s polluting our countries and demanding change, we aim to make clean-ups a thing of the past,” said Pratibha Sharma, GAIA’s India Coordinator.

Waste and brand audit in Delhi. Photo courtesy of Chintan.

Many of the multinational brands identified to be most responsible for plastic pollution through clean-up and audit activities have announced commitments to make their packaging more recyclable. However,recycling alone is not enough to staunch the steady flow of new plastic. Since the 1950s, only 9% of plastic ever made has been recycled, while plastic production is slated to increase by 40% in the next decade.

The plastic recycling trade has allowed countries in the global north to export these problem plastics to poorer countries unequipped to deal with this plastic tsunami, where most end up in landfills or the surrounding environment. “In addition to dealing with huge volumes of disposable plastics, we have to fight unsustainable incineration technologies that are being peddled to us as solutions,” said David Sutasurya, Executive Director of Yayasan Pengembangan Biosains dan Bioteknologi (YPBB).

“We can’t recycle our way out of this problem. Much of the plastic packaging currently on the market contains toxic additives that put recycling workers’ and waste pickers’ health at risk. The only way forward is for major consumer-facing corporations to stop producing single-use products and packaging that are used for seconds and then lead to pollution forever,” Sharma added.

In stark contrast to corporations’ inadequacy in addressing the plastic pollution problem, communities across Asia are demonstrating Zero Waste solutions that can be adopted by cities and regions throughout the world. In San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines, 95% of waste is diverted from landfill through broad community participation, recycling, and composting programs. In Pune, India, a women’s waste-picker collective of over 3,000 recycled 50,000 tons of waste from 600,000 households in 2016. These Zero Waste systems are rooted in social justice and environmental protection.

As corporations continue to show their disregard for public health and the environment by refusing to take accountability for the pollution they cause, communities across Asia are working together to implement solutions that not only reduce pollution, but also develop systems that create jobs, protect public health, the environment, and the climate. They demand that governments and corporates heed the evidence, and step up to their roles, too.

 

RESOURCES

  • To view the pan India waste and brand audit report, click here.
  • To learn why brand audits are better than clean-ups and what a brand audit looks like, click here.

 

PRESS CONTACTS

  • Sherma E. Benosa, Communications Officer, GAIA Asia Pacific | sherma@no-burn.org | +63 9178157570
  • Jed Alegado, Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic Asia Pacific | jed@breakfreefromplastic.org

 

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