Cleanups: the gateway to a zero waste community

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The Trash Hero movement shows how cleaning public spaces can lead to wider changes in society

Trash Hero volunteers have been picking up trash every week for just over 7 years, racking up some 12,000 cleanups in more than 170 locations worldwide and removing 1870 metric tons of rubbish from beaches, riversides, and other public spaces. These numbers are impressive and we rightly celebrate the work that has gone into achieving them. Yet when stacked up against, for example, the tonnage of plastic waste produced globally in a single day, they are merely a drop in the ocean. Even with a million times more manpower, we would not solve the problem of plastic pollution with cleanups alone. We need prevention, to stop it at the source. So why choose this path? [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row custom_padding="27px|0px|0px|0px" _builder_version="3.0.98"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Trash-Hero-Muba-Indonesia.jpg" align="center" _builder_version="3.0.98"] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" text_font="||||||||" text_font_size="12px" header_font="||||||||" text_orientation="center"] Trash Hero Muba, Indonesia [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" text_font="||||||||"] The answer is that in order to turn off the tap, you first have to see that the water is overflowing. In our experience, cleanups are an easy, accessible way for people to understand first hand the impact of our overdependence on plastic. They gather people, energy and the all-important momentum to “do something”. This momentum can, with positive messaging, be harnessed to spark behavioural change. Or, with large scale data collection, it can be used to influence policy, as shown recently with Break Free From Plastic’s brand audit project. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row custom_padding="27px|0px|0px|0px" _builder_version="3.0.98"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Trash-Hero-Lembata-Indonesia-conducts-a-brand-audit-in-September-2020.jpg" align="center" _builder_version="3.0.98"] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" text_font="||||||||" text_font_size="12px" header_font="||||||||" text_orientation="center"] Trash Hero Lembata, Indonesia, conducts a brand audit in September 2020 [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row custom_padding="27px|0px|0px|0px" _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98"] The key is to have the cleanups run by independent community volunteers and to have them happen on a weekly basis. With no commercial or political affiliation, our chapters are able to engage a broad base of support, and new people join all the time. Regular events keep the issues on the agenda and start local dialogues about reusables and waste management. Organised in this way, cleanups help open the door to more sustainable practices within a community. Once a Trash Hero chapter becomes established in an area and builds trust, our volunteers often find themselves invited to speak with local decision makers. Or, with the community on board, they may feel empowered to start a bigger initiative by themselves. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row make_fullwidth="on" use_custom_gutter="on" gutter_width="1" custom_padding="0px|0px|0px|0px" padding_right_1="5px" padding_left_1="5px" _builder_version="3.0.98"][et_pb_column type="1_3"][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/trash-hero-2.jpg" align="center" _builder_version="3.0.98"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_3"][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/trash-hero-3.jpg" align="center" _builder_version="3.0.98" custom_padding="5px|||"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_3"][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/trash-hero-1.jpg" _builder_version="3.0.98" module_alignment="right" custom_padding="|5px||5px"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row custom_padding="20px|0px|0px|0px" _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" text_font="||||||||" text_font_size="12px"]

Picture captions [l-r]: Trash Hero Ende, Indonesia, helps a local school move to refillable drinking water; Trash Hero Langsuan, Thailand, has partnered with the district temple to implement zero waste practices, starting with composting; Trash Hero Koh Chang, Thailand is asked to take part in an island education programme to introduce household waste separation.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row custom_padding="27px|0px|0px|0px" _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98"] It was with these scenarios in mind that we embarked on the “Trash Hero Zero Waste Communities” training programme in Southeast Asia in late 2020. Our volunteers are, for the most part, ordinary people who want to make a difference, not policy experts. But we want them to take their seat at the table armed with the basic knowledge and skills to direct their communities away from false solutions and towards zero waste systems. Based on a concept developed by Let’s Do It Foundation and organised by their educators, the first training sessions brought together a team of experts from the Break Free From Plastic movement, including Zero Waste Europe, GAIA Asia-Pacific and YPBB, as well as leading regional academics. We connected them with groups of volunteers in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Due to the pandemic, the training was conducted online. The 2-day sessions were held in October and November and introduced participants to topics such as:

– Principles of circular economy

– Community waste auditing

– Building convincing arguments for zero waste (overview of false solutions and greenwashing)

– Real life examples of zero waste projects in Asia

These sessions also included group work and discussion. 

Zero waste ideas are still relatively new in these countries so all sessions were conducted in the local language with the help of translators and interpreters. This allowed the complex subject matter to be understood and adapted to the local cultural context.  In total, 81 participants joined us for the live events. Out of these, 70 completed the two days and a further 51 did a follow-up activity to gain a certificate as a Zero Waste Practitioner (foundation level). [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row use_custom_gutter="on" gutter_width="1" custom_padding="27px|0px|0px|0px" _builder_version="3.0.98"][et_pb_column type="2_3"][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Maria-Theresia-Willbrorda-1.jpg" align="center" _builder_version="3.0.98" custom_padding="|5px||5px"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_3"][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Maria-Theresia-Willbrorda-2.jpg" align="center" force_fullwidth="on" _builder_version="3.0.98" custom_padding="|8px||10px"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row custom_padding="27px|0px|0px|0px" _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98"] Maria Theresia Willbrorda is a Trash Hero volunteer who is active in her community of Lewoleba on the Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia, regularly giving talks in schools and neighborhood groups about reducing and separating trash. She shares, "From this workshop I feel more motivated and responsible while doing the cleanup. I also got more understanding about the zero waste concept, and this is so important, as it influences my daily life." [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row use_custom_gutter="on" gutter_width="1" custom_padding="27px|0px|0px|0px" _builder_version="3.0.98"][et_pb_column type="1_3"][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Suphawat-Chuenjan-1.jpg" align="center" force_fullwidth="on" _builder_version="3.0.98" custom_padding="|7px||8px"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="2_3"][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Suphawat-Chuenjan.jpg" align="center" _builder_version="3.0.98" custom_padding="|15px||15px"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row custom_padding="27px|0px|0px|0px" _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" text_font="||||||||" text_font_size="12px" header_font="||||||||" text_orientation="center"] Suphawat Chuenjan (“P’Toom”) is the leader of Trash Hero Chumphon. The group runs our education programme in the Thai province and has helped several schools go “zero waste”. He also organises a clothes and toy bank where local people can donate unwanted items to the kids in the programme. Of the training, he said, “I found it a very good activity. There was useful content, an exchange of knowledge. It is good to be aware of the achievements of different areas and see how it can be applied to your own area.” [/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98"] We are all excited to move forward to the next stage of the training to be held this year: planning a concrete initiative and getting people on board. The problem of plastic pollution is complex and multifaceted and cannot be solved with a single approach. Using the collective strengths of the BFFP movement, this small project shows how we can better fit together the pieces of the puzzle to bring greater and lasting impact. Watch the full training in English as conducted by Dr. Enzo Favoino (Zero Waste Europe) and Miko Aliño (GAIA Asia-Pacific), along with that of the Malaysian incinerator expert, Mr Lam Choong Wah: [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row custom_padding="27px|0px|0px|0px" _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_code _builder_version="3.0.98"]<iframe width="560" height="715" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/boLP5-K_DWQ" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>[/et_pb_code][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row custom_padding="27px|0px|0px|0px" _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" text_font="||||||||" text_orientation="center"]   Interested in helping out Trash Hero efforts? [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row custom_padding="27px|0px|0px|0px" _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_button button_url="https://trashhero.org/our-network/" url_new_window="on" button_text="Join a Trash Hero cleanup" button_alignment="center" _builder_version="3.0.98" custom_button="on" button_text_color="#ffffff" button_font="||||||||" button_use_icon="off" button_bg_color_hover="#add8e6"] [/et_pb_button][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_button button_url="https://trashhero.org/chaptersignup/" url_new_window="on" button_text="Start your own Trash Hero cleanup" button_alignment="center" _builder_version="3.0.98" custom_button="on" button_text_color="#ffffff" button_font="||||||||" button_use_icon="off" button_bg_color_hover="#add8e6"] [/et_pb_button][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row custom_padding="27px|0px|0px|0px" _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" background_layout="light"] Seema Prabhu is Trash Hero World’s Programme Director. She started her zero waste journey organising beach cleanups in Thailand. Trash Hero is a global volunteer movement that drives change within communities, motivating and supporting them to clean and prevent plastic waste. Trash Hero has been a core member of Break Free From Plastic since 2016. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]


188 Environmental Groups Call for an end to Single Use Products, as the United Nations Environment Assembly gets set to discuss sustainability

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Make “throwaway go away” if you care about the planet, groups say

For Immediate Release: February 17, 2021 – As government representatives from 193 member states prepare to discuss “Strengthening Actions for Nature”[1], 188 environmental groups from around the world are calling on them to change the systems that support production of polluting single-use products.

The environmental groups today issued a joint position paper “From Single Use to Systems Change”, to highlight the massive impact that disposable products are having on the natural environment, wildlife, human health, and vulnerable communities.

Single use products, from packaging to food containers, to disposable cups and cutlery, are a key contributor to the 2 billion tonnes of waste that humans produce every year. That number is projected to increase 70% by 2050. 

“We’re depleting the very life support systems that we all need to survive, simply for the supposed convenience of single-use products,” said Tamara Stark, Campaigns Director of Canopy, one of the authoring organizations of the joint position paper. “Doing away with disposables will not only reduce waste but help address climate change, protect forests, and stop microplastics from poisoning marine life.”

The paper points to specific actions to be taken by governments, business leaders, financial institutions and investors, in order to transform production systems, reduce the overall use of raw materials and consumption, and spur innovation. Whilst actions by individuals also play a part, the NGOs say that more responsibility resides with decision-makers and those designing and approving the systems themselves.

“Too often, it is the most vulnerable people in our societies that bear the brunt of these polluting products – which contaminate local food supplies, clog landfills, and poison water and soil with toxic chemicals,” said Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of the global Break Free From Plastic movement. “It’s high time that we make corporations and industries that are driving global pollution and the climate crisis accountable for their actions.  We need to see radical change in how products are delivered to people, without the use of harmful and polluting packaging.“

“Paper versus plastic has always been a false choice. From the perspective of paper it means more forests logged, destruction of our best defense against climate change, and more pollution for the frontline communities where paper mills are sited,” said Scot Quaranda, Communications Director for Dogwood Alliance. “After watching our environmental safeguards decimated over the last several years in the U.S., it is high time we and other industrialized nations take the lead on shifting to more sustainable production methods and products.” 

The Environmental Paper Network is another key advocate for a shift away from single use products and systems, and have this week launched the new website SolvingPackaging.org to help companies, lawmakers, advocates, and individuals ditch disposables and embrace sustainable packaging solutions.

The joint paper From Single Use to Systems Change can be found here www.canopyplanet.org/single-use-to-systems-change

For more information please contact:


Canopy is a solutions-driven not-for-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting forests, species and climate. Canopy has worked with over 750 companies to guide them to more sustainable practices. Canopy’s partners include H&M, Sprint, Target, Amazon, Penguin Random House, Zara, TC Transcontinental, and Scholastic. www.canopyplanet.org

Break Free From Plastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, over 11,000 non-governmental organizations and individuals 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. www.breakfreefromplastic.org

Dogwood Alliance advances environmental justice and climate action by mobilizing diverse voices to protect Southern forests and communities from industrial logging. This year they are celebrating their 25th anniversary. Learn more at www.dogwoodalliance.org or on Twitter - @DogwoodAlliance

[1] The United Nations Environment Assembly 5 has adopted the theme of “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. According to the United Nations own report Global Biodiversity Outlook 5. None of the signatories to the Aichi Biodiversity targets have achieved even one of the 20 goals they committed to, two decades ago.



188 groups say it’s time to ‘make the throw-away go away’

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Before the 1950s and 60s, the majority of the products we produced and consumed were built to last. Milk bottles made of glass were returned and sterilized for re-use, restaurants offered ceramic plates and stainless-steel cutlery and the plastic bag was yet to be invented.

But since then, as technology progressed we have developed an ability to produce low-cost products en masse. This, alongside a growing culture of disposability, has resulted in mountains of waste, devastated landscapes and a culture of ‘single-use’. Today we use around 50% more natural resources than 30 years ago and produce a whopping  2 billion tonnes of waste each year. It may not be surprising that one of the main culprits is plastic. It litters our land and chokes our oceans, and can be found in quite literally every corner (and stomach) on this planet, even on Antarctica. Plastic is produced using fossil fuels and is responsible for 5% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Its toxic nature causes harm to millions of living creatures, including humans. We’ve all seen the devastating images of entangled turtles and suffocated seabirds.  Whilst the plastics industry would like consumers to think that many plastic products are recyclable, less than 10% of all the plastics produced since the 1950s has actually been recycled with the rest incinerated,  dumped in landfills, or left to  pollute the environment. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/comic-plastic-bag-min.jpg" _builder_version="3.0.98" align="center"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98"]

There is now a growing awareness of the long-term destructive impacts of plastic and our need to “turn off the tap” on the production of plastic. As a result, several corporations, and even governments, have announced commitments to switch to alternatives, mainly paper.

What’s less well known is that each year, three billion trees are cut down to make paper packaging, roughly an area the size of the United Kingdom. Many of these trees come from the world’s most endangered forests, which are home to countless threatened and endangered species, as well as Indigenous communities that depend on forests for their livelihood. These forests are important carbon storehouses, and vibrant, unique eco-systems that once displaced can never be replaced.

We are currently in the midst of a climate and biodiversity crisis that calls for the protection and restoration of forest landscapes. To do so, it’s imperative that we limit the number of trees that are used to make single use products and packaging.

It’s perhaps slightly ironic that the plastic bag was invented (in 1959 by Swedish engineer, Sten  Gustaf Thulin) as an alternative to paper bags, which were considered bad for the environment as they resulted in forests being chopped down.

It’s clear that neither plastic nor paper is an environmentally safe option. We shouldn’t have to choose between paper or plastic at all, especially when we have readily available alternatives. It’s time to halt our reliance on single-use products altogether.

This is why 188 organizations have come together to call for an end to single-use, throwaway products, asking for transformational change to our production, consumption and end-of-use systems to enable a truly circular economy.

The Break Free From Plastic movement, in partnership with Canopy and the Dogwood Alliance, is calling on governments, businesses, investors, non-profits, and civil society to reject single-use products in favour of reusable, recyclable, and compostable ones made with the lowest possible environmental and social footprint.

Many of the solutions already exist… Reuse and refill systems, products made from 100% recycled materials that can be fed back into a circular system, alternative materials to fossil fuels and tree-based feedstocks, and smart re-design to save on overall material use.

Most importantly, we must work collaboratively to enable transformative action on single-use items. To do so will reap far-reaching benefits for both ourselves and our natural world.

To see a list of actions that can be taken now to support wide-scale systems change on single-use, see below.

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There are actions that each of us can take now to support wide-scale systems change.

  Individual consumers can:

• Refuse unnecessary single-use products, both through purchasing decisions, giving feedback to brands when they overpackage goods. • Use social media and other communication channels to voice concern and raise awareness about the issues and solutions with single-use.

Businesses can:

• Develop a robust packaging policy/strategy, using a Pack4Good template policy • Smart product design to reduce the volume of fibre needed and to minimize or eliminate single-use packaging. • Prioritize the scale-up of Next-Generation Solutions including early adoption and investment. • Engage supply chains to halt impacts on critical forest landscapes and increase sustainable sourcing of materials.

Governments can:

• Introduce policies and dedicate funding to support conservation of forest ecosystems and a rapid transition to a circular economy. • Support businesses and citizens in adapting to change through education and provision of information.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can:

• Campaign for change • Advocate and support government and corporate policies • Promote relevant scientific evidence • Research and profile early adopters and innovators • Help to channel finance to support scale-up of solutions • Avoid advocating for false solutions



Zero Waste Cities of Southeast Asia

[et_pb_section fb_built="1" _builder_version="3.0.47" da_is_popup="off" da_exit_intent="off" da_has_close="on" da_alt_close="off" da_dark_close="off" da_not_modal="on" da_is_singular="off" da_with_loader="off" da_has_shadow="on" da_disable_devices="off|off|off"][et_pb_row _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"][et_pb_column type="4_4" _builder_version="3.0.47" parallax="off" parallax_method="on"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98"]Polluted beaches, plastic-clogged rivers, and marine animals washed up on shore with plastics found on their stomachs - these are just some of the pictures depicting the grim reality on the shores of Southeast Asia. Since 2015, Southeast Asia has been considered the world’s worst marine plastic polluter. Five countries (Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia) ranked as part of the top ten countries polluting the oceans and seas with plastics and other wastes. In 2018, Break Free from Plastic members and environmental groups dispelled this narrative by conducting coordinated clean-ups and brand audits across 42 countries and six continents. Over the 187,000 plastic trash audited, it was found that multinational companies from in the Global North were the greatest source of pollution in Southeast Asia [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/pasted-image-0-min.jpg" _builder_version="3.0.98"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98"]In the same year, prompted by China closing its doors to waste imports, many Global North countries turned their attention to Southeast Asian countries, putting immense pressure on the already limited waste management infrastructure and greatly exacerbating the region’s plastic pollution problem.

Zero Waste for Just Recovery and Resilient Cities

The zero waste approach is an alternative to “take-make-waste” systems that have proven to be ineffective in dealing with the complicated problems brought by a “throwaway society.” In this approach, policies, programmes, and infrastructure of cities and communities are designed to reduce waste at the source. Composting, reusing, and other proven effective ways to manage waste are adopted, while also increasing livelihoods, reducing carbon emissions, and improving public health. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/BFFP-Blog_-Zero-Waste-Cities-in-SE-Asia-min.jpg" _builder_version="3.0.98"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98"]


The Philippines - home to progressive solid waste management laws - stands as one of only two countries to ban incineration. While several private interests have pushed to repeal this ban, our members in the Philippines have countered these attempts by promoting successful zero waste programmes and maintaining compliance with the national solid waste management law in the country. With support from the Mother Earth Foundation, the City of San Fernando, Pampanga achieved a drastic 80% waste diversion rate in 2018 from an insignificant 12% in 2012. This also resulted in savings of USD 677,4040 in waste disposal spending alone [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/San-Fernando-photo-1-min.jpg" _builder_version="3.0.98"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/San-Fernando-Photo-2-min.jpg" _builder_version="3.0.98"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98"] Materials recovery facility in San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines / Photo by Veejay Villafranca for GAIA The Philippines is also home to community-led zero waste initiatives in Malabon City, where the waste collection volunteers have been formally integrated into the waste management programme of the city, receiving monthly salaries for their invaluable service. The Mother Earth Foundation, EcoWaste Coalition, and War on Waste Dumaguete have also worked with communities to implement the zero waste approach in Tacloban City, Siquijor, and Dumaguete City to name a few, proving that community organisation and education is key to creating systemic change towards effective waste management.


In Indonesia, our member Alliansi Zero Waste Indonesia (AZWI) has been spearheading the zero waste approach in several cities of the archipelago. For instance, AZWI and YPBB have supported residents of Bandung City in implementing household waste sorting and waste-to-food urban gardening programme, which has led to a 21.88% reduction of waste amounting to USD 4482.45 to 4767.05 savings in landfill transport costs. YPBB and GIDKP have also supported Bandung City in passing a single-use plastic bag reduction policy that will take effect in 2024. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Indonesia-min.jpg" _builder_version="3.0.98"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98"]Photo by Rahmat Sutiono - YPBB Moreover, PPLH Bali and YPBB supported the zero waste city project in Denpasar. Despite facing constraints due to COVID - 19, the organisations continued educating residents on the importance of waste segregation and composting while continuously monitoring waste transport officers and providing PPEs such as protective footwear, face masks, hand sanitisers, and food supplies to ensure their health and safety. ECOTON has also embarked on supporting household-level waste segregation in Wringinanom Village, Gresik, which led to a 40% reduction in organic wastes disposed of in landfills. Organic waste is composted in an integrated waste processing plant. Through additional income from composting and gardening, this program has provided additional jobs and livelihood opportunities to the community and waste workers alike. ECOTON is also working to pass a landmark regulation to require at-source segregation with the support of the Wringinanom Village Government.


In Malaysia, the Consumer’s Association of Penang (CAP) has supported numerous zero waste policies in Penang, such as the implementation of the segregation-at-source policy. Through these efforts, the state recorded 43% and 46% recycling rates in 2018 and 2019 respectively, leading the country in recycling. CAP partners with households, schools, and other establishments to promote composting methods and gardening. These initiatives have continued regardless of the challenges posed by COVID-19. Currently, Penang is on its way to achieving higher waste diversion and reduction targets. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/consumers-association-of-penang-min.jpg" _builder_version="3.0.98"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98"]Photo by Consumers Association of Penang


In Vietnam, the Vietnam Zero Waste Alliance (VZWA) has been instrumental in providing technical and financial support to the emerging zero waste city of Hoi An and the coastal province of Phu Yen. Through VZWA efforts, government support for Zero Waste programs has increased, resulting in dialogues in integrating the zero waste approach on the Hoi An environmental master plan, creation of Materials Recovery Facilities, and consideration of a single-use plastic ban. While in Phu Yen, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses have adopted Zero Waste practices in their operations, minimizing the use of single-use plastics. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Photo-by-Vietnam-Sach-va-Xanh-or-just-Vietnam-Sach-va-Xanh-min.jpg" _builder_version="3.0.98"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98"]Photo by Vietnam Sach va Xanh A zero waste world seems to be a distant scenario when we look at the problem. However, through the collective action of our members, we can translate this utopia into actionable changes. All successful zero waste cities in Southeast Asia go through an iterative process of consultations and training to arrive at solid waste management plans that take them closer to the zero waste goal. The vital part of this zero waste journey is taking that first step as a community to make the zero waste approach a part of your city or municipal vision. The information used in this blog was collected from BFFP member organisations in Southeast Asia. If you’re interested to know more, you may send an email to Janssen Calvelo <janssen@breakfreefromplastic.org> [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]


Zero Waste in South Asia – Who’s responsible?

[et_pb_section bb_built="1"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" background_layout="light"] Growing up amid the lush green hills in a small town in Nepal, my understanding of paradise was fairly simple - fresh air to breathe in and a clean environment to live in. However, with changes in time my definition of paradise has not only changed, but has vanished behind the harsh realities of waste and pollution. The South Asia region that I took pride in for its beautiful Himalayas, pristine rivers, clean sandy beaches has now become a hub for the environmental crisis. From barren land to mountains, every street one walks, every mountain one climbs, and every river one dives into - it is a given that one will find some form of waste in there - plastics, more often than not. Plastic pollution and solid waste management have been a burning issue in South Asia for quite a long time now. The lack of proper waste management techniques for all this waste has led most corners of cities and villages in the region to be filled with huge piles of waste. The copious amount of waste and pungent smell makes one question if there are any laws and policies at all in the region, when in fact there are multiple laws. Bhutan first banned the use and sale of plastic carry bags, doma wrappers, and ice cream pouches in 1999. Bangladesh was one of the first countries in the world to roll out a plastic ban in 2002. Nepal’s capital city, Kathmandu implemented a plastics ban in 2015 . India, Sri-Lanka, Maldives have concrete plans to ban the use of plastics in several phases within the next few years. Despite all these existing and upcoming policies and laws, South Asia ranks third globally, generates a staggering 334 million metric tons of solid waste every year. The truth of the matter is we cannot merely rely on the laws and policies. The extent of the plastic and waste damage in the region requires a lot more than that. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image _builder_version="3.0.98" src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Zero-Waste-in-South-Asia-Whos-responsible_-4-min.jpg" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" force_fullwidth="off" show_bottom_space="on" /][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" background_layout="light"] As residents and communities that shape the environment and contribute to a huge portion of the waste generated, we have to recognise the power we hold in our hands and the differences our actions can make. Apart from fighting tough battles to introduce proper waste management services and advocating for government accountability, movements in the region have identified a more sustainable solution that addresses the issue from the root - building waste-free communities. According to the Zero Waste International Alliance, “zero waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.” Zero waste might seem like a daunting concept at first, but it is fairly easy to implement once you get started. “Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.” (Chintan, India) There is often a misconception that zero waste might not be possible in the South Asian community. There are several communities in the region that have successfully established zero waste systems. Many of our member organisations have been leading projects and movements to support communities in South-Asia to transition to zero waste. ESDO, Bangladesh is leading an initiative to create zero waste communities through effective management and the recovery of discarded materials. Members in India, Nepal, Maldives have been leading exemplary training and workshops to educate communities on a zero waste approach, but there is a need for a more systemic approach to complement these efforts and bring about a paradigm shift. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image _builder_version="3.0.98" src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Zero-Waste-in-South-Asia-Whos-responsible_-3-min.jpg" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" force_fullwidth="off" show_bottom_space="on" /][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" background_layout="light"] There is a long industry-peddled narrative that individuals are responsible for waste, and that waste can be addressed if individuals inspect their behaviors and bring lifestyle changes. In truth, individuals can control their consumption and reduce household wastes, but consumers do not have power over the choices that businesses make in the production process. Theys have control over the materials, design, and quality of the products they make, and hence the amount of waste generated. They need to take the responsibility of designing sustainable products that are strong, durable, and can be repaired and reused easily. They also need to ensure that the materials used are unharmful to the environment and that they have proper waste-management techniques. However, unless there is something huge at stake, businesses do not budge on their traditional methods of manufacturing and selling. We need firm laws in South Asia that effectively hold producers accountable for the entire life-cycle of their products such as plastic packaging and sachets. Consumers can play a limited role in making informed choices but can encourage small businesses that provide plastic alternatives. It is crucial communities come together to use their voices to hold producers and governments accountable. It is when these voices unite - we get to witness a revolution. The information used in this blog was collected from BFFP member organisations in South Asia. If you’re interested to know more, you may send an email to Awantika Pal <awantika@breakfreefromplastic.org> [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]


A Lifetime Polluted by Plastic

[et_pb_section bb_built="1" _builder_version="3.0.47" da_is_popup="off" da_exit_intent="off" da_has_close="on" da_alt_close="off" da_dark_close="off" da_not_modal="on" da_is_singular="off" da_with_loader="off" da_has_shadow="on" da_disable_devices="off|off|off"][et_pb_row custom_padding="0px|0px|27px|0px" _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" background_layout="light"] When I say the word “plastic” what immediately comes to your mind? Is it an image of the sea turtle and the straw? The bag you last used at a grocery store? A beach you know that’s coated in pollution? The manufacturing plant in your neighborhood? It’s likely a combination of these things. But one thing that rarely comes to people's mind when we think of plastic is sea level rise, melting ice caps: climate change. Plastic is such a multifaceted issue, but its link to climate change is not always as apparent as it needs to be. When I was eight years old, my family went 13 days without power as Hurricane Ike passed over Houston, Texas. When I was 10 years old, I watched as the coast I grew up on was covered by 134 million gallons of crude oil flowing from the British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon oil rig. When I was 17, I watched my street fill with floodwaters as Hurricane Harvey sat over Houston for four days. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/polluted-by-plastic-min.jpg" align="center" _builder_version="3.0.98"] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" max_width="80%" module_alignment="center"] Downtown Houston, Texas flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. Taken about 2 minutes from my house. Photo Credit: Anthony Gordon [/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" text_font="||||||||"] I remember when Hurricane Harvey hit my Junior year of high school; I was just starting to think about my college applications and what I wanted to do after high school. Experiencing all of those disasters growing up, lit a spark in me to care about environmental issues. But the timing of Harvey is when it all clicked. I stumbled upon Eckerd College completely by chance, and immediately knew this is where I needed and wanted to be. Eckerd is a small school right on the water with a strong emphasis on environmental programs. Going there seemed like the perfect way for me to start getting involved with the things I cared about. When I got to Eckerd as a passionate Environmental Studies major, I had the mindset of wanting to make a difference on the issues affecting my community, but I had none of the tools to do so. My third day of college I was introduced to an organization doing voter registration work, and became really interested in this whole concept of organizing as a student, with other students, for students. Some of the leaders of this group, Florida PIRG Students, heard about my interest in the environment and encouraged me to run a beach clean up and brand audit for our school. I had zero idea what this meant, but did some research and ran a successful brand audit! Brand audits are a citizen science initiative that allows us to document the brand and companies responsible for plastic pollution. (Check out more information here! ) This was my first time taking direct action around the impacts of plastic pollution with other passionate people. From then on, I knew I wanted to continue organizing in this way. As I began to think more deeply about the work I was doing with PIRG,  I started to really understand the intersections between plastics and well, everything, but most clearly, with the climate movement. Plastic is a fossil fuel-based product. Most of that oil comes from fracking, an invasive process that releases potent greenhouse gases, harms communities, and pollutes waterways, to highlight some of its many negative impacts. It’s then transported to a refinery, with transportation and the refinement process both being greenhouse gas intensive processes. The final plastic product then used for just a few minutes on average, and put into the waste stream. Additionally, many areas incinerate their trash - something the industry markets as  “waste to energy”, which is just fancy language for burning plastic, releasing even more pollutants into the air (into our lungs). The placement of waste, burning of waste, production of plastic, placement of petrochemical and refinement facilities all lead to climate change, and all have an extremely disproportionate impact on communities of color, like the area I grew up in. Read more about this in detail: https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2019/08/how-plastics-contribute-to-climate-change/ [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/fossil-fuels.jpg" align="center" _builder_version="3.0.98"] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" text_font="||||||||"] Understanding those processes allowed me to see that by working on plastic issues, I would also be working towards stopping the worst impacts of climate change, like the hurricanes I know all too well. I knew more work needed  to be done to push the movement away from plastics forward, while bringing light to its intersections so, in the Spring of 2019, I decided to take on a huge project to get my campus to sign onto the Break Free From Plastics Campus Pledge eliminating the purchasing of all nonessential single-use plastics. Throughout that Spring and Summer, I worked with the Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN), our campus Office of Sustainability, and the Eckerd Reduce Single-Use Project to ultimately get the president to sign onto this progressive plastic policy. He officially signed in fall of 2019- only about 10 months after I started the campaign! A little over a year later, more than a dozen campuses enrolling more than half a million students have committed to phasing out all single use plastics. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/alex-gordon-min.jpg" align="center" _builder_version="3.0.98"] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" text_font="||||||||" max_width="80%" module_alignment="center"] The Eckerd College Break Free From Plastic Pledge being signed by former Eckerd College President Eastman. I am pictured third from left! [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/shifting-the-narrative-alex-gordon-1-min.jpg" align="center" _builder_version="3.0.98"] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" text_font="||||||||"] Though an individual, throughout all of this work I felt like I was joining a generation of changemakers from around the globe. Young people have been instrumental to the modern climate movement -- mass climate strikes in the streets to school walkouts, to authoring best selling books -- youth have made clear that our voices have to be heard in order to make any sort of change. Young people are also fairly prominent in issues of plastic pollution. The turtle and straw video launched a wave of anti-straw organizing, which has led to hard policies across the country. Unfortunately, these two issues are still seen as starkly separate, and to create the systemic change we need, must be viewed in the same lens. Switching the narrative of how people understand plastic will be key to moving our movement forward, but so will centering the experiences of those who are impacted by the industry. I currently live near one of the largest petrochemical complexes in the world. Every year, I witness petrochemical plants catching fire, hear the familiar alarm of a shelter in place, and smell the fumes coming out of these plants. In 2017, Harvey also caused one of the largest chemical spills seen in the region. The oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 was the same type of oil commonly used for plastic production. The creation of plastic, its consumption, and its disposal exacerbates the impacts of climate change. Plastic and climate are completely inseparable and must be tackled under the same lense. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/shifting-the-narrative-alex-gordon-2-min.jpg" align="center" _builder_version="3.0.98"] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" text_font="||||||||"] It is integral that we elevate the voices of those whose future depends on our actions: young people. Young people have played monumental roles in every successful movement for change thus far. We are seeing  the impacts we have on the climate movement, and we are starting to see our imprint on the movement away from plastics and towards zero-waste communities. We are effective changemakers yes, but we also have a huge stake in all of these conversations. It is our future that is dependent on the actions of everyone today. We are a diverse generation, coming from frontline communities all over the world, who want to have a future with a livable world. So, we’re passionate, we’re eager, and we want to get involved. The plastics movement can seem (and oftentimes is) overwhelming! Here are some actions you can take post reading this blog:

1. Check out some of the links left above! They lead to many of the resources I use. 2. Are you looking to get into organizing? Check out the Student PIRGs Activist Toolkit. Whether you’re getting your community to go plastic free, talking about elections, or just wanting to engage your community, this tool has so many great resources. 3. Want to get involved with reducing plastic at your campus? Find out all about the Break Free From Plastic Campus Pledge here and work with the Post Landfill Action Network! 4. Feel free to reach out with any questions at angordon@eckerd.edu

 About the Author Alex Gordon is a current Junior at Eckerd College studying Political Science and Environmental Studies. She is the Chair of the Eckerd Chapter of Florida PIRG Students and continues to work with the Post Landfill-Action Network and Student PIRGs to create more plastic free campuses. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]


More than 250 Organizations Urge President Biden and Congress to Invest $1.3 Billion in Congressional Stimulus and Funding Bills to Address the Plastic Pollution Crisis and its Environmental Justice Impacts (English/Español)

[et_pb_section bb_built="1" _builder_version="3.0.47" da_is_popup="off" da_exit_intent="off" da_has_close="on" da_alt_close="off" da_dark_close="off" da_not_modal="on" da_is_singular="off" da_with_loader="off" da_has_shadow="on" da_disable_devices="off|off|off"][et_pb_row _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" background_layout="light"] [Nota de prensa en español debajo] For Immediate Release, February 4, 2021

New report by #BreakFreeFromPlastic member organizations and allies identifies 13 solutions to reduce the environmental and health impacts of plastics, as well as five false solutions that should not receive federal funding 

CONTACT: Brett Nadrich, Break Free From Plastic (929) 269-4480 | brett@breakfreefromplastic.org  WASHINGTON— More than 250 organizations, including dozens of members of the #breakfreefromplastic movement, today released 13 recommendations for the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress to include in a stimulus package, infrastructure bill, and/or climate change legislation, in order to address the devastating impacts caused by plastic pollution.  The report is available in English and Spanish. As the United States builds back from our ongoing health and economic crisis, these systemic reforms would provide equitable protection against the environmental and health damage caused by plastics. By investing a minimum of $1.3 billion in solutions, the federal government would protect the health of the communities on the frontlines of extraction, plastic production and incineration (which are also being disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic), stimulate innovation and jobs, and promote public health, cleaner communities, healthy oceans, and a more sustainable economy. "The way federal tax dollars are spent reflects the priorities of the nation. Just as our country is wisely moving away from subsidizing fossil fuel production, we should stop funding fracked plastics. Instead, Congress should support innovation that provides alternatives to plastics. These alternatives are good for the environment, prevent pollution in environmental justice communities, and create local jobs," said Judith Enck, President of Beyond Plastics and former EPA Regional Administrator. In a new report, 13 priorities to help transform the country’s extractive, throwaway culture into a regenerative, inclusive one that is good for our economy and environment were identified: 

1. $150 Million for Government Facilities, Educational Institutions, and Public Lands To Shift To Reusable Products 2. $25 Million to Investigate and Pursue Violations of Environmental Laws by the Petrochemical Industry in Environmental Justice Communities 3. $6 Million to Install Water Refill Stations to Replace Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles at National Parks and Across Public Lands 4. $50 Million to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Improve Data Collection and Better Regulate the Plastics Industry 5. $150 Million for Research on the Health Impacts of Plastics 6. $500 Million to the EPA for Recycling Programs and Materials Recovery Facilities for Non-Plastic Recyclables 7. $250 Million for Composting 8. $50 Million to Develop Waste Reduction, Reuse and Refill Systems 9. $1 Million for the Architect of the Capitol to Reduce Single-Use Plastic in the Capitol and Legislative Offices 10. $25 Million for Green Chemistry 11. $50 Million for AmeriCorps 12. $20 Million to the EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund for Stormwater, Trash, and Debris Capture Systems and Green Infrastructure Design 13. $25 Million for Reducing and Mitigating Plastic in the Ocean

These recommendations address the immense damage caused across the full plastic supply chain: namely, gas extraction, production, manufacturing, distribution, use in consumer products, and disposal, which often takes the form of plastic waste being buried in landfills, dumped in waterways, or burned in incinerators. The policy solutions focus both “upstream” on eliminating the source of plastic production and its negative impacts, and “downstream” on mitigating the impacts in communities, on land, and in our oceans and rivers. “The federal government should take responsibility for protecting communities and the environment. Real solutions to address the harms of plastic pollution are long overdue. Absolutely no community in the U.S. should have to pay the price of progress to benefit the few,” said Juan Parras, Executive Director with Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (T.E.J.A.S). The plastic pollution crisis is an environmental justice emergency because the petrochemical industry, and the waste that it creates, disproportionately harms people of color and low-income communities. The federal government has the responsibility to protect historically marginalized people from the lasting damage imposed on them by corporate polluters.  “Indigenous communities across the United States are without a doubt some of the most impacted by the fossil fuel regime. In the U.S., our Treaties are supposed to guarantee that we have government-to-government consultation, but the federal government consistently and blatantly disregards us and allows the most egregious pollution to threaten our Lifeways and Cultures. Here in Oklahoma, we often live in cluster sites where plastic pellets from fracking flow through our wells and rivers. We have asthma rates at the top of the charts. Cancers and auto-immune diseases course through every family, and we live in multi-generational homes where COVID-19 cases attack entire families, often robbing us of our Wisdom Keepers. It's imperative that the federal government take accountability for the trust responsibility to the Original Peoples of this land,” said Casey Camp-Horinek, Councilwoman, Hereditary Drumkeeper of the Womens' Scalp Dance Society of the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma. The 257 organizations note that over 350 million tons of plastic are produced each year, of which 91 percent is not recycled, and that the U.S. produces the most plastic waste per capita of any country. “As the largest producer of plastic waste, the U.S. has a responsibility to lead the shift to reusable and refillable systems to combat plastic pollution. Single-use plastic is flooding the market, and Americans can’t find options to avoid it. The federal government can change course, help curb the 33 billion pounds of plastic entering our oceans each year and replace America’s plastic habit with zero-waste solutions,” said Christy Leavitt, Plastics Campaign Director with Oceana. The recommendations also make clear that “to effectively reduce plastic pollution and stimulate economic growth, it is essential that the Administration and Congress do not promote false solutions in federal spending bills and other actions.” The coalition highlights five items that should not be included in any federal actions:

1. The production, distribution, and export of plastic must be reduced. 2. Chemical or “advanced” recycling is costly, polluting, and ineffective, and should not receive direct funding or loan guarantees. 3. Plastic carbon sequestration is not a good policy. 4. Downcycling is not the solution. 5. Incineration under the guise of “waste to energy” or “waste to fuel” or gasification or pyrolysis is harmful and ineffective.

“Right now, there are two incinerators in the state of California, both located in and near communities of color. Modesto is one of the most populated cities in California without a basic curbside recycling program, which we believe is due to the contracts with local municipalities that require sending 800 tons of material per day to the incinerator. They want to make the maximum amount of profit, regardless of the health and economic consequences on the local community,” said Thomas Helme, Co-Founder and Project Director of Valley Improvement Projects. The federal government must take action to eliminate single-use plastic in its own operations and to promote our country’s transition away from plastic production, overconsumption, and pollution. More specifically, federal funding must help stop plastic contamination at its source before it enters the marketplace, especially because plastic is often cleaned up at the public’s expense using tax dollars, rather than by the corporations who produced the plastic that pollutes these lands and waterways. “Government leaders should do just that - lead the nation in exemplifying our shift away from single-use culture and toward reusable products. We call upon the federal government today to embrace the reusable/refillable culture,” said Angela Howe, Legal Director with Surfrider Foundation. In addition to these new recommendations and points of concern, the Presidential Plastics Action Plan published on December 8, 2020, identifies important steps the Biden-Harris Administration can take today. Likewise, the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, which is expected to be reintroduced in 2021, identifies common sense actions the federal government can take to address the plastic pollution crisis. “Plastic pollutes across its entire lifecycle—from extraction to use and disposal—and, at each stage, poses significant risks to human health. The U.S. needs Congressional Stimulus and Funding Bills that would transform our extractive, throwaway systems, eliminate sources of plastic production, and reduce the negative health and ‘downstream’ impacts in our frontline communities, and our soil, air and water,” said Julia Cohen, MPH, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Plastic Pollution Coalition. ### The #breakfreefromplastic movement is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in 2016, more than 11,000 organizations and individual supporters 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. BFFP member organizations and individuals share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, and work together through a holistic approach in order to bring about systemic change under the #breakfreefromplastic core pillars. This means tackling plastic pollution across the whole plastics value chain – from extraction to disposal – focusing on prevention rather than cure and providing effective solutions. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider show_divider="on" height="4px" _builder_version="3.0.98" background_color="#3a8c9e"]   [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" background_layout="light"] Para publicación inmediata, 4 de febrero de 2021

El nuevo informe de las organizaciones miembro y aliados de #BreakFreeFromPlastic identifica 13 soluciones para reducir los impactos ambientales y de salud de los plásticos, así como cinco soluciones falsas que no deberían recibir financiamiento federal.

CONTACTO: Brett Nadrich, Break Free From Plastic (929) 269-4480 | brett@breakfreefromplastic.org  WASHINGTON: Más de 250 organizaciones, incluidas decenas de miembros del movimiento #breakfreefromplastic, publicaron hoy 13 recomendaciones para que la Administración Biden-Harris y el Congreso las incluyan en un paquete de estímulo, un proyecto de ley de infraestructura y/o una legislación sobre el cambio climático, a fin de abordar los devastadores impactos causados por la contaminación por plástico. El informe está disponible en inglés y español. A medida que Estados Unidos se recupera de nuestra actual crisis de salud y económica, estas reformas sistémicas brindarían una protección equitativa contra el daño ambiental y a la salud causado por los plásticos. Al invertir un mínimo de $1.3 mil millones en soluciones, el gobierno federal protegería la salud de las comunidades en primera línea de la extracción, producción de plástico e incineración (que también se ven afectadas de manera desproporcionada por la pandemia de COVID-19), estimularía la innovación y el empleo y promovería la salud pública, comunidades más limpias, océanos saludables y una economía más sostenible "La forma en que se gastan los dólares de los impuestos federales refleja las prioridades de la nación. Así como nuestro país se está alejando sabiamente de subsidiar la producción de combustibles fósiles, debemos dejar de financiar plásticos fracturados. En cambio, el Congreso debe apoyar la innovación que brinde alternativas a los plásticos. Estas alternativas son buenas para el medio ambiente, previenen la contaminación en las comunidades de justicia ambiental y crean empleos locales ", dijo Judith Enck, presidenta de Beyond Plastics y ex administradora regional de la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de Estados Unidos (EPA, por sus siglas en inglés). En un nuevo informe, se identificaron 13 prioridades para ayudar a transformar la cultura extractiva y desechable del país en una regenerativa, inclusiva que sea buena para nuestra economía y el medio ambiente: 

1. $150 millones para instalaciones gubernamentales, instituciones educativas y terrenos públicos para cambiar su uso a productos reutilizables 2. $25 millones para investigar y perseguir las violaciones de las leyes ambientales por parte de la industria petroquímica en comunidades de justicia ambiental 3. $6 millones para instalar estaciones de llenado de agua para reemplazar botellas de agua de plástico de un solo uso en parques nacionales y en terrenos públicos 4. $50 millones para la Agencia de Protección Ambiental (EPA) para mejorar la recopilación de datos y regular mejor la industria del plástico 5. $150 millones para la investigación sobre los impactos de los plásticos en la salud 6. $500 millones a la EPA para programas de reciclaje e instalaciones de recuperación de materiales para materiales reciclables no plásticos 7. $250 millones para compostaje 8. $50 millones para desarrollar sistemas de reducción de desechos, reutilización y recarga 9. $1 millón para el Arquitecto del Capitolio para reducir el plástico de un solo uso en el Capitolio y en las oficinas legislativas 10. $25 millones para química ‘verde’ 11. $50 millones para AmeriCorps 12. $20 millones para el Fondo Rotatorio Estatal de Agua Limpia de la EPA para sistemas de captura de aguas pluviales, basura y escombros, y diseño de infraestructura verde 13. $25 millones para reducir y mitigar el plástico en el océano

Estas recomendaciones abordan el inmenso daño causado en toda la cadena de suministro de plástico: a saber, extracción de gas, producción, fabricación, distribución, uso en productos de consumo y eliminación, que a menudo toma la forma de desechos plásticos que se entierran en vertederos y se vierten en vías fluviales, o se queman en incineradoras. Las soluciones de políticas se centran tanto de manera ascendente en eliminar la fuente de producción de plástico y sus impactos negativos, como descendente al mitigar los impactos en las comunidades, en la tierra y en nuestros océanos y ríos. “El gobierno federal debe asumir la responsabilidad de proteger a las comunidades y el medio ambiente. Las soluciones reales para abordar los daños de la contaminación por plástico están atrasadas. Absolutamente ninguna comunidad en los Estados Unidos debería tener que pagar el precio del progreso para beneficiar a unas cuantas personas” dijo Juan Parras, Director Ejecutivo de Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (T.E.J.A.S.). La crisis de contaminación por plástico es una emergencia de justicia ambiental porque la industria petroquímica y los desechos que genera dañan de manera desproporcionada a las personas de color y a las comunidades de bajos ingresos. El gobierno federal tiene la responsabilidad de proteger a las personas históricamente marginadas del daño duradero impuesto sobre ellas por los contaminadores corporativos.  “Las comunidades indígenas en los Estados Unidos son sin duda algunas de las más afectadas por el régimen de combustibles fósiles. En los Estados Unidos, se supone que nuestros tratados garantizan que tengamos consultas de gobierno a gobierno, pero el gobierno federal hace caso omiso de manera sistemática y permite que la contaminación más atroz amenace nuestras formas de vida y culturas. Aquí en Oklahoma, a menudo vivimos en sitios donde los gránulos de plástico del fracking fluyen a través de nuestros pozos y ríos. Tenemos las tasas de asma más altas. Los cánceres y las enfermedades autoinmunes se transmiten a través de todas las familias, y vivimos en hogares multigeneracionales donde los casos de COVID-19 atacan a familias enteras, a menudo robándonos a nuestros Guardianes de la Sabiduría. Es imperativo que el gobierno federal asuma su rol por la responsabilidad de fideicomiso de los pueblos originarios de esta tierra,” dijo Casey Camp-Horinek, Concejal, Tamborilero Hereditario de la Sociedad de Danza del Cuero Cabelludo de Mujeres de la Nación Ponca de Oklahoma. Las 257 organizaciones señalan que cada año se producen más de 350 millones de toneladas de plástico, de las cuales el 91% no se recicla, y que Estados Unidos produce la mayor cantidad de desechos plásticos per cápita de cualquier país. “Como el mayor productor de desechos plásticos, los Estados Unidos tiene la responsabilidad de liderar el cambio hacia sistemas reutilizables y recargables para combatir la contaminación por plástico. El plástico de un solo uso está inundando el mercado y los estadounidenses no pueden encontrar opciones para evitarlo. El gobierno federal puede cambiar de rumbo, ayudar a frenar las 33 mil millones de libras de plástico que ingresan a nuestros océanos cada año y reemplazar el hábito plástico de Estados Unidos con soluciones de cero residuos”, dijo Christy Leavitt, directora de campaña de plásticos de Oceana. Las recomendaciones también dejan claro que “para reducir efectivamente la contaminación por plástico y estimular el crecimiento económico, es esencial que la Administración y el Congreso no promuevan soluciones falsas en los proyectos de ley de gastos federales y otras acciones”. La coalición destaca cinco elementos que no deben incluirse en ninguna acción federal:

1. Hay que reducir la producción, distribución y exportación de plástico. 2. El reciclaje químico o “avanzado” es costoso, contaminante e ineficaz y no debería recibir financiación directa ni garantías de préstamos. 3. El secuestro de carbono plástico no es una buena política. 4. El infrarreciclaje no es la solución. 5. La incineración con el pretexto de "convertir los residuos en energía" o "convertir los residuos en combustible" o la gasificación o la pirólisis es perjudicial e ineficaz.

"En este momento, hay dos incineradores en el estado de California, ambos ubicados en comunidades de color y cerca de ellas. Modesto es una de las ciudades más pobladas de California sin un programa básico de reciclaje, lo que creemos se debe en su totalidad a los contratos con los municipios locales que exigen el envío de 800 toneladas de material por día al incinerador. Quieren hacer la máxima cantidad de ganancias, independientemente de las consecuencias económicas y de salud en la comunidad local”, dijo Thomas Helme, cofundador y director de proyectos de Valley Improvement Projects. El gobierno federal debe tomar medidas para eliminar el plástico de un solo uso en sus propias operaciones y promover la transición de nuestro país lejos de la producción de plástico, el consumo excesivo y la contaminación. Más específicamente, la financiación federal debe ayudar a detener la contaminación por plástico desde su origen antes de que ingrese al mercado, especialmente porque las zonas contaminadas por el plástico a menudo se limpian a expensas del público usando dólares de impuestos, en lugar de hacerlo las corporaciones que producen el plástico que contamina estas tierras y vías fluviales. “Los líderes gubernamentales deberían hacer precisamente eso: guiar a la nación en ejemplificar nuestro cambio de la cultura de un solo uso hacia productos reutilizables. Hacemos un llamado al gobierno federal hoy para que adopte la cultura reutilizable / recargable,” dijo Angela Howe, directora legal de Fundación Surfrider. Además de estas nuevas recomendaciones y puntos de preocupación, el Plan de Acción Presidencial sobre Plásticos publicado el 8 de diciembre de 2020, identifica pasos importantes que la Administración Biden-Harris puede tomar hoy. Asimismo, la Ley para Reducir Contaminación Por Plástico, que se espera que se reintroduzca en 2021, identifica acciones de sentido común que el gobierno federal puede tomar para abordar la crisis de contaminación por plástico. “El plástico contamina durante todo su ciclo de vida—desde la extracción hasta el uso y la eliminación—y, en cada etapa, representa riesgos importantes para la salud humana. Los Estados Unidos necesita estímulos del Congreso y proyectos de ley de financiamiento que transformen nuestros sistemas de extracción y desechables, eliminen las fuentes de producción de plástico y reduzcan los impactos negativos en la salud y los efectos descendientes en nuestras comunidades más impactadas, así como nuestro suelo, aire y agua,” dijo Julia Cohen, MPH, cofundadora y directora general de Plastic Pollution Coalition. ### #BreakFreeFromPlastic (“Libérate del Plástico” en español) es un movimiento global que aspira a un futuro libre de contaminación causada por el plástico. Desde su lanzamiento en 2016, más de 11.000 organizaciones y simpatizantes individuales de todo el mundo se han unido al movimiento para exigir reducciones masivas en plásticos de un solo uso y para impulsar soluciones duraderas a la crisis de contaminación plástica. Las distintas organizaciones e individuos miembros que forman parte de este movimiento comparten los valores de protección ambiental y justicia social, y trabajan juntos a través de un enfoque holístico para lograr un cambio sistémico. Esto implica abordar la contaminación plástica en toda la cadena de producción del plástico–desde la extracción hasta el desecho–centrándose en la prevención y soluciones efectivas. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]


Pollution Prevention Groups Press Government to Ban Non-Environmentally Acceptable Products and Packaging

[et_pb_section bb_built="1"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" background_layout="light"] The EcoWaste Coalition and Oceana Philippines today urged the national government to roll out a long overdue policy that could help the country leapfrog to a zero waste and toxic-free circular economy. The groups specifically asked the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), an inter-agency body under the Office of the President, to release the list of non-environmentally acceptable products (NEAP) for prohibition as required under Section 29 of R.A. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. The commission should have prepared the said list one year after R.A. 9003 took effect in 2001. The groups also pushed for the implementation of Section 30 of the same law, which should have illegalized the sale or conveyance of products placed, wrapped or packaged in non-environmentally acceptable packaging materials. "After two decades, the NSWMC has yet to produce the list of NEAP for phase-out and eventual elimination,” lamented Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “It’s time for the commission to work doubly hard in order to get a game-changing list out by this year to reduce both the volume and toxicity of our discards,” she emphasized. “The commission’s inability to fast track the formulation of such list has badly affected the efforts of local government units, communities and households to achieve zero waste with the unrestrained production, distribution, consumption and disposal of products and packaging materials that are too difficult to recycle due to their chemical composition,” she added. Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice-President of Oceana Philippines, likewise scored the NSWMC for failing to prioritize the formulation of the NEAP list in the face of the country’s ballooning waste production that is also contaminating the world’s oceans. “We strongly urge the NSWMC to draw up the long-overdue list of products that are ‘unsafe in production, use, post-consumer use, or that produce or release harmful by-products when discarded,’ with single-use plastics (SUPs) on top of the list,” she said. “The effect would be a tremendous reduction at the source of plastic pollution as production, use and trade of SUPs as a NEAP will be prohibited, with a hefty fine and other sanctions,” she added. The adoption of the NEAP list and its subsequent implementation, the EcoWaste Coalition and Oceana Philippine said, will spur investments in product redesigns and delivery systems that will ultimately reduce, if not eradicate, the use of toxic chemical additives and the generation of waste. Aside from throw-away plastics such as plastic bags, bottles, sachets, straws, stirrers and other SUPs, the groups also insisted on the inclusion in the NEAP list of items containing “substances of concern” that can expose people and the ecosystems to such harmful chemicals. As noted in the report “Plastic’s Toxic Additives and the Circular Economy,” published by multiple UN convention groups and other organizations, including the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), “while the general issue of pollution by plastics has received growing attention, there has so far been less attention given to the additives.” “Many of the additives are potentially toxic, and some meet the definition of being persistent organic pollutants (POPs),” the report said. “They pose a risk to the environment and to human health when they leach out of plastic debris.” “Additives are also problematic in recycling, and their use is a potential barrier to making progress towards a circular economy,” the report concluded. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]