Single Use Foodware and Litter Reduction Ordinance- STRONG SUPPORT

Single Use Foodware and Litter Reduction Ordinance- STRONG SUPPORT

Dear Mayor and City Councilmembers,


Thank you for your leadership on Zero Waste issues. I am writing to express Break Free From Plastic’s strong support of the Single Use Disposable Foodware and Litter Reduction, Item #27 on the December 11th City Council meeting agenda. The ordinance represents a brave and necessary step forward in tackling plastic waste and pollution.

We are at a pivotal moment in time. Cities all across the country are drowning in single-use foodware and packaging – primarily plastic – which is costly to clean up, impactful on the local business districts, likely to pollute the marine environment, and often incompatible with municipal recycling or composting systems. If Berkeley is to reach the 75% diversion from landfill goal of AB 341, it will have to do more than recycle and compost. Similarly, to achieve the storm-water permit requirements established by the state and regional water boards, Berkeley and other jurisdictions will need to do more than capture and clean up trash. To reach our goals, a prevention and source reduction approach is needed, targeting the most problematic materials.

Berkeley has a long history of leading waste reduction strategies like the polystyrene ban of 1986 and the Carryout Bag Reduction legislation, which was adopted by Alameda County and has since become state law. It’s time for Berkeley to take another strong stand. Addressing the over-use of disposable foodware is a vital step towards improving both human and environmental health.

This ordinance represents a comprehensive approach: it includes the increasingly popular “straws and utensils on request” policies being enacted in many other cities, with more mandatory measures to move away from a throw-away culture to one where reusable, durable food and beverage containers are the norm. This ordinance will set a new global standard for reducing disposable foodware while bringing many benefits to the business community.

We strongly urge you to vote yes to adopt this ordinance and the associated referrals to the City Manager. It is the right thing for Berkeley, and the right thing for the planet.


Shilpi Chhotray
Senior Communications Officer (based in Berkeley, California)


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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:  


Contact: Madeline B. Quiamco, PhD

Office of Information and Publications

Phone:    +63-35-420.6002 extension 230


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Innovate, don’t Incinerate! Environmental Justice Groups Call on Int’l finance Institutions to Support Zero Waste Solutions

Innovate, don’t Incinerate! Environmental Justice Groups Call on Int’l finance Institutions to Support Zero Waste Solutions

Bali, Indonesia, 12 Oct 2018 — Today, over 400 organizations and individuals in more than 50 countries called on international financial institutions (IFIs) meeting this week in Bali, Indonesia, to stop funding waste incinerators, and instead prioritize projects that focus on Zero Waste solutions.

The call came ahead of the Global Infrastructure Forum on 13 October where 10 IFIs and the UN have organized a meeting to discuss their take on the world’s infrastructure agenda. Environmental groups are submitting a global petition to oppose the recent trend of so-called development financing that has seen the aggressive promotion of waste incinerators in the Global South.

“Although our country is hosting this year’s conference, we refuse to host an incineration plant that will maintain a linear economy and systematically destroy our nation’s precious resources,” says David Sutasurya, Executive Director of Yayasan Pekembangan Biosains dan Bioteknologi (YPBB). “Many Indonesian cities are already pursuing Zero Waste initiatives, which are proven to be a sustainable and actionable approach to solving our country’s waste problems. The banks should support such efforts instead of harmful end-of-pipe systems.”

A key focus of the forum is to mobilize partners’ financial resources to fund infrastructure projects for developing countries, particularly from the private sector.

Many concerned civil society groups are keeping a close and vigilant watch on IFIs because of the troubling legacy of negative environmental and social impacts their projects and policy advice have had on communities and citizens, particularly in the Global South. Many of these IFIs are funded by industrialized countries who wield a strong influence on the policies of poorer nations.

A key concern about the infrastructure financing of these banks are their focus on massive centralized waste incinerators or the so-called “waste-to-energy” facilities, which has had devastating consequences for the climate, human health, and local economies.

Many of these IFIs already funded or promoted waste incinerators in countries in the global South.

“Environmental justice groups around the world are asking development banks to stop funding incineration because it is bad for public health, bad for the environment, bad for the climate and bad for the economy, jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions of waste pickers around the world,” says Niven Reddy, Regional Coordinator for GAIA Africa. “Incineration has proven to be a failed model in the Global North and should not be peddled in the Global South.”

In Europe, the EU has put another nail in the coffin for incinerators: the waste legislation implementation report published by the EC last month instructed countries to introduce measures to phase out residual waste treatment including, among others, incineration. Joan Marc Simon, Executive Director of Zero Waste Europe states, “Support for Incineration is fading and it is agreed that it is not part of the Circular Economy plan of the European Union. EU policymakers are focusing instead on supporting reduction, reuse and recycling. IFIs should learn from Europe’s mistakes and stop promoting waste incineration in other parts of the world.”

A recent World Bank report (What A Waste 2.0) confirms that decades of incineration has not helped decrease global waste volumes, but instead has abetted the global waste crisis.

This year’s Global Infrastructure forum comes at a time when the world is grappling for urgent solutions to address escalating waste volumes and the worsening climate change impacts brought on by reckless consumption,” said Lea Guerrero, Climate and Clean Energy Campaigner at GAIA Asia Pacific. “Waste incineration is part of the unsustainable system that has led the planet to the brink of the waste and climate catastrophes. Multilateral banks that purport to enable sustainable development should no longer fund waste incineration and should instead enable countries to transition to an economy where the conservation of natural resources and Zero Waste is prioritized.”

For example, the Asian Development Bank promotes and funds incinerators in Asia[i]; IBRD (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, part of World Bank), is funding and supporting incinerators in South America; and African Development Bank promotes and funds the construction of medical waste incinerators all over the continent.




Sherma Benosa, Communications Officer, GAIA Asia Pacific,, +63 917 8157570

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

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Repeal of the incineration ban to worsen waste woes, expert warns

Repeal of the incineration ban to worsen waste woes, expert warns

“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 |

Jed Alegado, Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic | +639176070248 |

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Big brands shamed for plastic pollution at global summit; Green group calls for accountability, drastic reduction

Big brands shamed for plastic pollution at global summit; Green group calls for accountability, drastic reduction


CONTACT Jed Alegado, Claire Arkin,

Vancouver, 6 June 2017—At the Global Sustainable Brands Summit today, evidence from brand audits exposed top global manufacturing companies Pepsi, Unilever, Nestle, and Coke amongst the companies most responsible for plastic pollution in India, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

Speaking at the summit, Froilan Grate of the environmental non-profit GAIA, or the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, presented evidence that more than 50% of all single-use plastic waste recovered from selected zero waste cities and clean-up sites in the Philippines, Indonesia and India is made up of product packaging from leading brands. This evidence, he said, shows that brands are doing too little too late to remediate their historical and ongoing pollution. The panel, entitled, “Stopping Plastic Pollution through Design Change and Circularity,” also featured Anna Cummins of 5Gyres and Matt Prindiville of Upstream Policy, all three representing the #breakfreefromplastic movement.

“As the biggest producers of throwaway plastic packaging, brands carry the heaviest responsibility for the plastic problem,” said Grate. “Plastic packaging from brands is endangering wildlife and the health of the oceans, and poisoning the water we drink and the food we eat. But the current commitments on plastic reduction and package redesign means business as usual for at least the next decade. So far corporations have given us lip-service when what is needed is urgent and drastic reduction.”

More than a dozen environmental groups in the three countries conducted waste and brand audits in the past 12 months. The latest audits were conducted in May across 18 states in India as a lead-up to the World Environment Day, which India is hosting this year. Waste and brand audits are conducted prior to actual implementation of Zero Waste strategies to gather data and help understand the types and amount of waste generated by households and commercial establishments. Brand audits complement waste audits by categorizing and counting branded residual plastics to pinpoint the main producers of the waste.

The results of all the audits are remarkably similar. Branded product packaging from multinationals topped the list of the most commonly-found plastic waste, with multilayered plastics accounting 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% was food packaging. The rest was household and personal care packaging.

In India, PepsiCo is the top multinational polluter, followed by Perfetti van Melle and Unilever. Other multinational corporations in the top 10 list are Coca-Cola and Mondelez. In audits conducted in multiple cities in the Philippines and Indonesia, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Nestle, PT Torabika, Colgate-Palmolive, and Coca-Cola are among the top 10 multinational polluters.

Many of the multinational brands identified were present at the Sustainable Brands summit. Instead of focusing on reducing their product packaging, these companies have made weak commitments with a heavy emphasis on recycling, including chemical recycling, which is still unproven. Groups in the #breakfreefromplastic movement, including GAIA, have noted that these commitments are woefully inadequate, and that recycling alone is not enough to stem the tide of plastic pollution.

GAIA has also noted that mainstream discussions on plastic waste have shifted the blame on the shortcomings of waste management in Asia, and to human behavior. Some multinational brands are asking cities to implement better waste collection and consumers to be “more responsible,” and are supporting harmful approaches such as burning plastics in incinerators and cement kilns.

“Plastic pollution is the most visible manifestation of how brands have externalized the environmental and human costs of their marketing activities,” Grate said. “We are challenging brands to take accountability for the pollution they cause. As a first step, they need to disclose the extent of their historical and current plastic packaging, drastically reduce plastic production, and redesign packaging and delivery systems. Corporations’ failure to acknowledge accountability and provide immediate action means missing the biggest, quickest and most important solution to stop plastic pollution.” ###


Find out more.

Read the short report.

Watch the video.


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On World Environment Day, green groups in India tell corporations: Stop causing plastic pollution

On World Environment Day, green groups in India tell corporations: Stop causing plastic pollution

The call came as the groups revealed the results of their unprecedented coordinated clean-up and waste and brand audits which showed that a tremendous amount of single-use plastic polluting the environment is used by manufacturers for packaging of fast-moving consumer products (FMCG).
“The numbers are staggering. There is simply too much plastic in the environment. This has to change,” said Pratibha Sharma, National Coordinator of GAIA India. “Corporations cannot continue polluting the environment, make money out of the problem they are creating but contribute nothing to cleaning up the pollution they cause. The government must ensure that the corporations cannot continue doing business as usual, by enacting a comprehensive extended producer responsibility policy,” she added.

From May 16 to 26, ten GAIA member organizations and partners conducted clean-up and waste and brand audits in 18 states in India. Of the total waste collected, 46,100 pieces of plastic waste were branded, of which 47.5% were multilayer plastic packaging which can neither be recycled nor composted.

Results showed that both local and international brands are responsible for the plastic waste pollution in the country. PepsiCo India topped the multinational polluters list, followed by Perfetti van Melle and Hindustan Unilever, an Indian subsidiary of Unilever, as second and third, respectively. Other multinational brands in the top 10 list of polluters are Coca-Cola, Mondelez, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, and Ferrero SpA. Meanwhile, Amul, Britannia, ITC, Parle emerged as the top corporate polluters amongst the national brands.

“The FMCG segment which consumes more than 50% of plastics produced are leaking the same into our environment unattended. This is leaking public money into drains. The primary function of packaging materials has changed from protection to advertising brand names. This has to be challenged; the plastic industry in general, and brands, in particular, should be held liable for the plastic pollution,” said Shibu Nair, Executive Director of Thanal, the anchor organization of the waste and brand audits conducted in Thiruvanthapuram, Kerala.

The audits were conducted as a lead-up activity to this year’s World Environment Day celebration with the theme, “Beat Plastic Pollution.” 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—took part in this exercise. They covered urban metros and mini metros along with ecological fragile zones such as beaches and rivers and hard-to-reach mountainous regions to account for diverse demographics and lifestyle standards.

The waste collected was audited under various categories: unbranded plastics, branded plastics, polystyrene, rubber, glass, metal, textile, and paper. The branded plastics were further audited to record the brand and identify the manufacturer and also the types of packaging such as single layer, multilayer, polystyrene, expanded polystyrene, hard plastics, PET, foil, and others. They were also classified according to product category such as food packaging, household packaging, or personal care.

“Through the brand audit activity, we found that there is a huge amount of waste in the form of single-use and multilayer plastic packaging that get generated at a very high rate every single day. Such plastic waste is not only detrimental to the environment in terms of plastic pollution but is also causing frequent floods and drainage problems in Mumbai and other cities. Even from the recycling point of view, multilayer packaging is very problematic as it has zero to low value, and waste pickers find it very challenging to collect,” said Jyoti Mhapsekar, founder of Stree Mukti Sanghatana, a Mumbai-based organization that works closely with waste pickers.

“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 pyackaging materials and delivery systems that are ecologically sustainable for the people and the planet,” he added.

While India has a low plastic consumption per capita as compared to its western counterparts, this consumption is going up steadily and could double within a decade or less. Manufacturers of FMCG are pushing the disposable culture and sachet economy in developing countries using the argument that small quantities of their products allow for shampoos, detergents and other consumables to be easily available, accessible and affordable to the poor.

“Currently, a huge cost of managing the post-consumer waste is being externalized to the environment, cities and communities. If the costs of the collection, handling, transport, storage and recycling of their packaging waste were to be incorporated, it will undoubtedly make it unaffordable to the poor. Manufacturers and brands need to look at alternative dispensing mechanisms such as refill systems, to continue to allow the consumers to access them,” said Kripa Ramachandran, researcher at Citizen consumer and civic Action Group, a Chennai-based organization working on building Zero Waste systems in Chennai.

In contrast with corporations’ inadequacy in addressing the plastic pollution problem, cities and communities across India are demonstrating Zero Waste solutions that can be adopted by cities and regions throughout the world. In Kerala’s Suchitwa Mission, a Green Protocol was launched recently as part of the government’s anti-plastic drive and Green-Kerala Mission. The Green Protocol restricts the usage of plastic and other non-degradable articles including disposable glasses and plates and thermocol decorations in social and official functions.

In Pune, SWaCH, a cooperative of over 3,000 wastepickers, recycled 50,000 tons of waste from 600,000 households in 2016 alone. Waste-pickers in India are essential to a circular economy, and companies need to  design their products and packaging with their health and well-being in mind.

Of the total waste collected, 46,100 pieces of plastic waste were branded, of which 47.5% were multilayer plastic packaging which can neither be recycled nor composted.

“Today, the entire recycling sector, with the wastepicker at its base, subsidises the manufacturing industry. A lot of recycling in developing countries internalises several costs by compromising the health, safety, and statutory entitlements of the workers involved in the industry, and the environment. Only if one added to it the environmental and health impacts and costs of the petrochemical industry can a more realistic assessment of the actual calculations towards the ubiquitous disposable plastic straw, bag of milk, carrier bag, or cup of tea emerge,” said Lakshmi Narayan, founder of SwaCH.

“Addressing plastic pollution requires consumers, producers, policy makers, and waste managers to take responsibility. However, producers make the choices about product design, packaging, and delivery. We urge the Government of India and all state and city governments to hold them liable for the environmental and social costs that result from their choices,” said Satyarupa Shekhar, Director for Research and Advocacy at CAG.Participating groups in the World Environment Day Brand Audits in India have issued a short report with specific demands for policymakers, as well as for corporates to reduce and redesign their products and packaging.


Pratibha Sharma | | +91-8411008973


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