Member in Spotlight – Zero Waste Alliance Ukraine
Member in the Spotlight for September: Recycling Netwerk Benelux
Please introduce yourself and your organisation My name is Lindsey Wuisan and I am a Strategic Manager for the plastic transition at RNB, based in Utrecht, the Netherlands. RNB is an eNGO with the objective to help reduce our society´s resource use and prevent (plastic) waste, by pushing for ambitious legislation and corporate responsibility. We cover the whole of the Benelux, but mostly focus on the Netherlands and Belgium. Why is plastic pollution an important issue for your organisation? What’s the story? In the past, RNB´s lobby and advocacy work has focused mostly on deposit return systems for plastic bottles and beverage cans. Gradually we started to address the whole phenomenon of single-use packaging, as well as the legislation (e.g. SUPD) and Extended Producer Responsibility schemes at national level. For instance, we contributed to this investigation uncovering the lobby strategies of Green Dot organisations (here's an article in French). The reason why we focus on plastics (packaging) is because most of their use is not in line with circular economy principles. Besides the fact that they are mostly based on fossil resources, plastic packaging is made for the dump after only a short timespan of use. Even though the Netherlands like to call themselves a pioneer in the circular economy, reality is a different story. In 2017, about 1.900 kilotonnes of plastics were put on the market in the Netherlands. About 1.650 kilotonnes of plastic waste was treated, of which 512 kilotonnes of plastic packaging. Only 243 kilotonnes of plastics was actually “recycled” (in reality 35-39% according to the new methodology), while 52.5% was incinerated. Clearly, this situation is completely at odds with the circular and climate goals of the Netherlands. We need to transition to a circular plastics economy focusing on prevention and reuse.
Meet the Climate Activists Doing Brand Audits
Eco Groups Welcome Passage of National Single-Use Plastic Regulation
Quezon City, Philippines —The pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition lauds the House of Representative for passing a national regulation on single-use plastic, which signifies a first step towards eradicating plastic pollution in the country. “We welcome the timely passage of House Bill 9147 and we now challenge our Senators to act and pass a stronger national single-use plastic regulation. The Senate version should be more aggressive, responsive and promote genuine solutions to curb plastic production and consumption and should not promote dirty solutions such as plastics offsetting, plastic credit, incineration and thermal treatment,” said Coleen Salamat, Plastic Solutions Campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition. With 190 affirmative votes, zero negative, the House of Representatives approved in the final reading the House Bill 9147 last July 28, 2021. The bill sets a gradual phase-out period for different plastic products and imposes accountability to plastic producers and manufacturers. Similar bills on the regulation of single-use plastics have been filed in the Senate since 2019 but, so far, none of the bills have moved beyond the Committee level. 2020 data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Environmental Management Bureau, revealed that four hundred and eighty-eight (488) local government units have ordinances banning single-use plastics. With this, the stand of the local government against plastic pollution is evident. “We only have a few weeks left in the legislative calendar and with the 2022 national elections fast approaching, we believe that now is the right time to pass the national regulation on single-use plastics. Our environment and communities cannot afford to go back to start with this bill in the new Congress,” said Salamat. It can be recalled that in 2019, Palace officials warmed up to the idea of a plastic ban. As the lower house passed House Bill 9147, the group urged the Philippine Senate to act in response to this. With the increasing plastic consumption due to the pandemic, plastic waste is estimated to increase by 300%. # # # For more information, please contact: EcoWaste Coalition email@example.com
New report from Climate Tracker and Break Free from Plastic shines light on media coverage of plastics in Southeast Asia
On June 30, 2021, Climate Tracker and Break Free from Plastic launched a report titled The Plastic Pandemic: Has COVID-19 Shifted the Media Discourse on Plastics in Southeast Asia?, which assessed media coverage of plastics in Southeast Asia before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report, which is the first of its kind as it delves into the narrative frames used by journalists to communicate the issue of plastic pollution in Southeast Asia, draws from an in-depth analysis of media coverage in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines as well as interviews with a total of 43 journalists and media practitioners from the region. The report found that plastics, which are made from fossil fuels, were rarely discussed in the context of climate change. “Since climate change is one of the threats to long-term stability in Southeast Asia, there is really a need to address the plastics problem with renewed urgency,” said Patricia Valerio, Climate Tracker Research Manager. “Despite the efforts of Break Free from Plastic Asia Pacific and its members to shift the narrative, more work needs to be done in countering greenwashing and PR stunts of corporations which are geared towards stopgap measures,” added Jed Alegado, Senior Communications Officer for Break Free from Plastic, Asia Pacific. “Clearly, we need to strengthen the link between plastics and climate in the Asia Pacific region.” Another one of the report’s main findings is that, since media coverage focused on reducing plastic consumption instead of production, there was a heavy focus on individual responsibility and little scrutiny of plastic producers. The increase in plastic waste that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic did not significantly shift this discourse. “I found the notion that Southeast Asian media coverage is focused on individual responsibility instead of corporate and government accountability most compelling,” said Janssen Calvelo, Break Free from Plastic’s Network Organizer for Southeast Asia, about the report. “It posits that there is still much work to be done in sending the message that unless multinational and large corporations stop plastic production and ASEAN governments implement enabling environment through policies, real and substantial solutions to plastic will not be achieved.” Journalists across the region also faced multiple challenges in reporting on plastics. For example, in Malaysia, physical safety emerged as a concern among journalists who wanted to conduct investigations on plastic recycling factories. “Freedom of information is important and good for everyone,” said Heng Kiah Chun, Greenpeace Malaysia Campaigner, about the lack of freedom-of-information laws in Malaysia. “Journalists and activists are having a hard time accessing reliable data from the government.” Still, the report shows that plastics were negatively framed across all Southeast Asian countries studied — an encouraging sign for advocates against plastic use. “The most interesting part of the report is learning that our effort since at least two decades ago to push the narrative against plastic pollution has been successful,” said Rahyang Nusantara, Indonesia Plastic Bag Diet Movement National Coordinator. “In Indonesia itself, 93 percent of media articles framed plastics negatively.” Journalists who want to deepen their reporting on the problem of plastic pollution are welcome to get in touch with organizations such as Break Free from Plastic and its partners. “Media practitioners, as well as those who are helping in further professionalizing this noble work, can get help from civil society organizations working on plastic pollution. We can offer collaborations, leads, and help in framing and angles of your story ideas,” Alegado said. “We need to dig deeper into the plastic pollution crisis from production up to disposal as well as its links to other social and environmental justice issues.” “Plastic pollution does not only impact our environment, but also has long-lasting and well-documented impacts on human rights, climate change, economy, and diplomacy, to name a few,” added Calvelo. “Feel free to reach out to us for more information and case studies.” Both the full report and an executive summary can be found here. A podcast that gives an overview of country researchers’ perspectives can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, and Stitcher. For more information, please contact the following: Jed Alegado Break Free from Plastic Asia Pacific Senior Communications Officer firstname.lastname@example.org Yvonne Tan Malaysia Researcher email@example.com Ariel Adimahavira Indonesia Researcher firstname.lastname@example.org Kadesiree Thossaphonpaisan Thailand Researcher email@example.com ĐỗThuỳTrang Vietnam Researcher firstname.lastname@example.org Patricia Valerio Philippines Researcher Climate Tracker Research Manager email@example.com
Kenya civil society comes together to launch zero plastics coalition
On March 24th the Centre For Environment Justice and Development held a consultative meeting with grassroots organizations and other stakeholders in the waste management sector with support from Break Free From Plastic. The goal of the meeting was to deliberate on the need to form a unified civil society voice to champion plastic pollution reduction and elimination in Kenya. With no space for civil society organizations to come together and advocate with a collective voice for a zero plastic waste Kenya, the group of organizations present at the meeting designed a set of recommendations around safeguarding the rights of the public against plastic and chemical pollution. Kenya has been a leading force against plastic pollution in Africa. In 2017, the country enacted a protective law against single use plastic which has been cited as a model for many other nations. However, since 2017, the country has faced many challenges in the implementation of the law including among others; illegal imports of plastic bags, poor enforcement of laws, and lobbying against the ban on plastics by the government through the Ministry of Trade and Ministry of the Environment. A total of 24 participants drawn from various civil-society organizations across the country attended the forum. Organizations such as Clean up Kenya, Slums Going Green and Clean, Kenya Safi, African sustainability Network, Strathmore University. James Wakibia, environmental activist and photojournalist championing the ban of single use plastics, was also present at the forum.
1. The members agreed to form a movement against plastic pollution and named it “CSOs for Zero Plastics in Kenya”
2. The members agreed that advocacy work should target both plastic reduction from upstream (production and; manufacturing as priority and downstream (waste management)
3. The members agreed to bring together all like-minded organizations including faith-based organizations (FBOs), community advocacy groups, youth initiatives, individuals advocating against plastic pollution/campaigners, academia, NGOs, policy-makers, media, and grassroots representation e.g waste pickers to become a part of the coalition.
1. The platform expects the government to integrate waste pickers in the formal waste management system and recognize their efforts in reviving the circular Economy with formal measures of social protection.
2. The platform expects the government to invest in solutions that work for people and planet and that will help in achieving a zero waste society, economic recovery and job creation in Kenya
3. The platform expects the government to work towards the banning of waste incineration which leads to a green recovery.
4. The platform expects the government to break Free from plastics by enacting policies that drastically reduce plastic production and consumption
5. The platform expects the government to put local communities first by ensuring transparency in how projects are implemented and how taxpayer money is used to promote sustainability.
Member in the spotlight – Environmental Investigation Agency
Please introduce yourself(-ves) and your organisation? We are six in the Environmental Investigation Agency Ocean Team!
◾ Jennifer Lonsdale , EIA Founder and Senior Ocean Campaigner [Co-founded and has worked at EIA since 1984, UK based], ◾ Clare Perry, Ocean & Climate Campaign Leader [Worked at EIA for 20 years, Spain based], ◾ Chris Dixon, Deputy Ocean Campaign Lead [Worked at EIA for 2 years, UK based], ◾ Tim Grabiel, Senior Lawyer [Worked at EIA for 10 years, France based], ◾ Tom Gammage, Ocean Campaigner [Worked at EIA for 1.5 years, UK based] ◾ and Lauren Weir, Ocean Campaigner [Worked at EIA for 7 months, UK based]Our Ocean work focuses on three threats to the marine environment and biodiversity: plastic pollution, fishing gear, and other threats to marine animals, in particular the commercial exploitation of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises). Specifically when it comes to plastic pollution we work on the issue at the UK, regional (EU) and international level, pushing governments and corporates to catalyse a shift away from our single-use society, phasing out all but the most essential plastics, and campaigning to secure a global treaty on plastic. Why is plastic pollution an important issue for your organisation? What’s the story? EIA has never shied away from investigating and campaigning on difficult environmental issues. It was founded in 1984, exposing the Faroese pilot whale hunt as its first campaign. It quickly evolved into an organisation investigating and campaigning against a wide range of environmental crime and abuse. In the early 1990’s this included successfully persuading the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to study environmental threats to whale populations - like the then recently discovered ‘ozone hole’, climate change, pollution and overfishing. In 2012 with plastic pollution identified as an increasing threat to cetaceans and the marine environment, EIA committed to working to tackle this threat. We started researching plastic and other marine debris impacts on cetaceans in 2012, producing a scientific paper for the 64th meeting of the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). The paper was eventually published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin and helped to initiate a series of marine debris workshops by the IWC. We also started campaigning on EU policy, including the EU Plastic Bags Directive, which was adopted in 2015. Following that the plastic campaign really gained traction when we joined a UK microbeads coalition with Greenpeace, Fauna & Flora International and the Marine Conservation Society, resulting in a UK ban on plastic microbeads in rinse off cosmetic products starting in 2018. Plastics is a hugely urgent, pervasive and complex environmental problem – with some powerful actors involved. It subsequently became an area of focus of our ocean work and one we are very committed to helping resolve. Tell us more about your ongoing campaign(-s)/activity(-ies) We have quite a few current workstreams, including: policy development for plastic reduction, pellets, fishing gear, mapping the plastic footprint of grocery retailers in the UK and campaigning for plastic reduction and reuse, agriplastics, plastic waste trade (especially at the EU and UK level), and campaigning for a global plastics treaty. Some recent coverage of our advocacy work with regards to a global plastics treaty can be found in this National Geographic article and this LA Times Op-Ed. When did your organisation become a core member of BFFP? What does it mean for your organisation to be part of the BFFP movement? EIA joined Break Free From Plastic very early on and was one of its founding members. Sarah Baulch, previously EIA Oceans, attended the first meeting of the plastic alignment project in Manila in 2016. The outputs, ambition and impact of the Break Free From Plastic members both individually and collectively is astounding, and being part of the movement has helped expand our reach. Skill, knowledge and data sharing is ultimately what will make this campaign area a success and we are all so happy to be involved. Particularly on our global plastics campaign we really benefit from the national experience from the different members around the globe and exchanging ideas on successful strategies and interventions in policy spaces. What is the most ridiculous plastic product or packaging that you have seen? Anything non-essential. But some specific examples (thanks to Clare!) include [caption id="attachment_8975" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] “Tic Tac-ception”[/caption] [caption id="attachment_8976" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] And given it is the Euros 2020 - micro-plastic from artificial turf in football pitches![/caption] What do you find shocking in the plastic waste landscape that you think everybody should know about? One that everyone is probably fully aware of, is the finiteness of plastic recyclability. So many commitments and targets are principally focused on a false solution - the fact that plastic can only be recycled a few times as the waste stream quickly becomes contaminated with unwanted additives and still requires virgin feedstock to maintain polymeric integrity. And that isn’t even accounting for plastic that is designed in such a way that it is non-recyclable! And European and UK waste colonialism (in the form of irresponsible and harmful plastic waste exports) whilst touting themselves as environmental leaders. Thank you to Christina Dixon of the Environmental Investigation Agency for participating in this interview.
EARTH call on the Thai government to Ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, End Toxic Waste Imports