Exxon, you’re not listening to Portland, Texas
Written by Errol Summerlin of Portland Citizens United. Article originally posted in Caller Times.
Remember all the billboards Exxon had on display? “We’re listening,” they said.
Residents of Portland, the City Council, and the school board told them the location was too near schools and neighborhoods; they didn’t listen, choosing their own interests over ours.
We told them we didn’t have the water to support their operations; they didn’t listen, telling us we will have to address our water needs by building desalination plants sooner than later.
We told them they weren’t giving us enough information about their emissions; they didn’t listen, claiming confidentiality.
We told them the polyethylene pellets would endanger our fish and birds; they didn’t listen; the demand (and profits) in selling plastics to developing nations could not be ignored.
We told them the temperature of their industrial wastewater discharge into Corpus Christi Bay was too hot; they didn’t listen. TCEQ says we can wait and see.
We told them their storm water runoff will exacerbate flooding, especially in Gregory; they didn’t listen, leaving it to the drainage district to figure out.
Now, we tell them to reduce their emissions. They respond by saying they meet the standards set by TCEQ. Well, the contested case will determine if they are in fact meeting those standards.
But, Exxon, you’re not listening. We want you to set higher standards for yourself; we want you to set higher standards for your industry; we want you and your Saudi Royal Family partners to spend all the resources required to employ the most advanced engineering practices and technology to further reduce your emissions; we want you to engage scientists, engineers, chemists, and technology experts around the globe to enlist their practices and ideas to set a higher bar for cleaner air and water, such as flare reduction, reusing water from operations to achieve near-zero discharge, and using treated municipal wastewater as a source for operations.
We don’t know how much the Saudi Royal Family earned last year, but you reported $19.7 billion in earnings in 2017. Don’t just meet the standard; take a little time and spend what is required to set a higher bar to reduce the environmental impacts on our communities and ecosystems. If you choose not to listen again, remember we didn’t want you here in the first place.
A Global Movement Against Gas and Fracking Is Rising
This blog was originally posted on Food & Water Europe's website. Food & Water Europe are a #breakfreefromplastic member and are working to make the connection between fracking and plastic pollution. Along with our partners, Food & Water Europe is part of a global movement against fossil fuel extraction and FOR a sustainable future. This October we are mobilizing and targeting those behind the boom of fossil gas and fracking infrastructure:
Taking an expedition to the next level
[et_pb_section bb_built="1" admin_label="section" _builder_version="3.0.47"][et_pb_row admin_label="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_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"] Written by Mochamad Septiono
I had the privilege of representing BaliFokus in the 18th 5Gyres Expedition in Indonesia’s Coral Triangle from Lombok to Labuan Bajo. Our leg consisted of experts and practitioners in waste management. Through the Asia Pacific Action Against Plastic Pollution program, 5 Gyres is collaborating with non-governments in Southeast Asia to highlight and scale zero-waste efforts in the region. This expedition was organized to have a better understanding of long-term impacts of these initiatives, representatives from participating groups joined the Expedition to train on citizen science protocols.
There are several studies conducted that reveal that plastic is entering the environment, especially in the ocean: through mismanagement of waste (Jambeck et.al, 2015), rivers and waterways (Lebreton et.al, 2017), from urban area sources (Dris et.al, 2018), and other sources. These pathways allow plastic to penetrate the water cycle and eventually ends up in the ocean. This is due to fact that plastic’s cannot follow the water cycle evaporation after entering waterways. Through photodegradation, bigger plastic crumbles into smaller pieces while the bigger part eventually sinks to the seabed. As persistent marine pollutant (Worm et.al, 2017), plastic and microplastic have been found in marine organisms (Rochman et.al, 2015) that potentially acts as a carrier of toxic chemicals (Bergmann et.al, 2015).
During the expedition, we were applying science to all of our activities conducted in the expedition. There were four main activities on the expedition: assess microplastic on ocean surface; assess plastic on beaches, assess plastic on mangrove area and do a brand audit.
In this expedition, 5 Gyres and all the crew expedition were collecting data from those activities to enrich current research on plastic pollution. Surface-trawl were used as method to collect microplastic data on ocean surface. This method allowed us to determine how many microplastic are retained in the trawl filter on the ocean surface through certain volume of water passing through the filter. Surface trawls were conducted eighteen times in six different locations during the expedition.while after entering into the ocean plastic might be washed up to shorelines and trapped along the beach. Another data collection method was from beach clean-ups. Beach clean-ups were organized in five beaches with additional brand assessment among two of them. In total, the second leg crew collected 225 kg (8738 items) of trash with these top five items at most: styrofoam, misc fragments of plastic, water cups, shoes and water bottles. Mangroves play unique a role on capturing plastic debris floating on the ocean, because of the exposed roots and ocean tides in the marine environment. Using kayaks, mangrove clean up recovered 39 kg of trash (131 items), with fishing ropes were mostly found in mangrove areas. During the evenings, we listened to experts from various backgrounds who joined the crew. Nighttime conversations covered several topics during the expedition still focusing, of course, on plastic pollution issues: plastic leakages into the environment, research of microplastics, how plastic may potentially affect human health, surfer’s contribution to solving plastic pollution, recycling and waste management, textiles and microfibers, legal actions for corporate responsibility, and even about in-situ resource utilization up in space.
Collected data on this Expedition will be incorporated into 5 Gyres’ global dataset of microplastics. It will also be used to update 5 Gyres’ Global Estimate of Marine Plastic Pollution study. 5Gyres and its partners in this expedition aim to enrich global plastic pollution data to better understand the global scope and trends related to ocean plastic pollution and to monitor the efficiency of upstream solutions over time.
Photo Credit: 5 Gyres Institute and Mochamad Adi Septiono (BaliFokus Foundation)[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
Most of Hong Kong and Taiwan’s dumped plastic bottles come from mainland China – but local drinks makers also urged to reduce waste
Some 66 per cent of plastic bottles collected along coasts were labelled in simplified Chinese characters, according to survey by local environmental group The Green Earth and other NGOs Written by Karen Zhang. Originally posted in South China Morning Post. Green groups in Hong Kong and Taiwan have called on mainland China and drinks makers to do more to reduce plastic waste after a survey found two-thirds of bottles collected during beach clean-ups most probably came from across the border.
Some 66 per cent of plastic bottles collected along the coasts of Hong Kong and Taiwan were labelled in simplified Chinese characters, according to a preliminary survey by local environmental group The Green Earth in collaboration with eight NGOs in Hong Kong and three in Taiwan.
The mainland uses simplified script, whereas Hong Kong and Taiwan use traditional Chinese characters.
The group led a “brand research” campaign on PET plastic drink containers collected during clean-ups. In 16 coastal clean-ups in Hong Kong and Taiwan, 5,200 bottles were collected in total. According to The Green Earth, more than 4,400 bottles had recognisable brands. Of those, about 66 per cent of the brands were in simplified Chinese, and 28 per cent in traditional Chinese.
Hahn Chu Hon-keung, director of environmental advocacy at The Green Earth, said he believed the vast majority of the simplified Chinese bottles were from the mainland.
“The bottles labelled in simplified Chinese may be available in a few stores in Hong Kong or brought by tourists from China, but the number is quite small,” Chu said on Sunday.
Ten coastal clean-ups were done in Hong Kong, at Gin Drinkers Bay, Sha Tau Kok, Shui Hau Wan on Lantau Island, Lamma Island, Sai Kung, Sam Mun Tsai in Tai Po and Tung Chung River, and 1,776 bottles were collected with recognisable brands. Among them, 38 per cent had simplified characters and 55 per cent traditional Chinese.
The figures showed it was not just mainland manufacturers behind the waste, and local firms should also take responsibility, Chu said. In Taiwan, the monitoring sites were mostly in Penghu, an archipelago in the Taiwan Strait, where 86 per cent of bottles were in simplified Chinese.
Chu said the mainland, which made most of the plastic packaging and plastic waste that ended up in the ocean, needed to take aggressive action to reduce waste such as setting up producer responsibility schemes for product containers.
The group also called on the Hong Kong-Guangdong Marine Environmental Management Special Panel, set up by the authorities in October 2016, to strengthen collaboration to stop plastic waste from polluting the ocean.
“Apart from being a strong global power, China should also take responsibility [to reduce plastic waste],” Chu said.
The group also questioned the results of a 2015 report by the Environmental Protection Department entitled Investigation on the Sources and Fates of Marine Refuse in Hong Kong which found only 5 per cent of marine refuse was from the mainland. The group said the department needed to review the methodology.
“From what we found out this time, the figures tell another story,” Chu said.
More than 30 brands with simplified Chinese characters were found with Taiwan’s Master Kong accounting for 33 per cent of the plastic bottles. The others in the top five were Chinese brands
Wahaha and Nongfu Spring, China Resources’ C’estbon, and Coca-Cola. The groups urged drinks manufacturers to take action to cut waste including reducing the production of plastic containers, using the same material for bottles for efficient recycling.
The group said it will initiate another brand investigation on international coastal clean-ups on September 15.
Regarding local brands, Chu said the group needed to collect more data before publishing detailed results. The group also planned to contact the government and manufacturers later.
In response to the survey, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola China said the company understood there was a packaging issue and it, like all firms, had a responsibility to help solve it.
“In Hong Kong, we are committed to expanding more sustainable packaging options including returnable glass bottles, aluminium cans, fountains, etc,” the spokeswoman said, citing a pilot programme at King’s Park Sports Ground where consumers could buy Bonaqua Mineralized Water with their own containers.
Tingyi (Cayman Islands) Holding Corporation, which owns the Master Kong brand, said it attached great importance to the survey results. It said the company had been actively discussing with the China Beverage Industry Association how to better recycle bottles hoping to form a positive business mechanism with more companies and the public involved.
#breakfreefromplastic Is Supercharging Coastal Cleanups With Brand Audits To Name Corporate Polluters
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Brand audits highlight citizen action to hold polluters accountable, getting to the root cause of the plastic pollution crisisBreak Free From Plastic, the global movement working to stop plastic pollution, is taking coastal cleanups a step further – by naming the brands most responsible for the plastic pollution found on our beaches and beyond. Throughout a global week of action, September 9-15, 2018, groups under the #breakfreefromplastic banner have collectively organized more than 180 cleanups in 49 countries to incorporate data on corporate plastic pollution found in communities across the world. These particular events will conclude on World Cleanup Day, September 15, and a report will follow citing brand responsibility for the plastic pollution found in nearly 150 cities around the globe. #breakfreefromplastic is looking forward to hosting more brand audits until coastal cleanup becomes of a thing of the past. "Corporations cannot greenwash their role out of the plastic pollution crisis and put the blame on people, all the time. Our brand audits make it clear which companies are primarily responsible for the proliferation of throwaway plastic that's defiling nature and killing our oceans. Their brands provide undeniable evidence of this truth," stated Von Hernandez, #breakfreefromplastic Global Coordinator. From San Francisco, California to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, organizers are working in solidarity under the global #breakfreefromplastic banner. Nipe Fagio, a Break Free organization in Dar es Salaam, is no stranger to brand audits. In fact, the group is organizing cleanups at more than 30 sites across the city during World Cleanup Day to shape the future for a cleaner Tanzania. “Over 50% of waste collected during our beach cleanups in the last 6 months comprise of plastic that range from packaging materials and beverage bottles manufactured by MeTL group, to toothbrushes, straws and pens,” shares Navonaeli Omari-Kaniki, Program Coordinator at Nipe Fagio. "Brand audits are about creating corporate accountability for the plastic pollution that litters our oceans, waterways, and communities,” said Graham Forbes, Global Plastics Project Leader at Greenpeace. “For far too long, companies have put the onus on the individual to just recycle more, but we know that only 9 percent of plastics ever made have actually been recycled. It's essential that these corporations take concrete steps to innovate away from single-use plastic. People all over the world will continue to hold them accountable until they do,” he added. By categorizing and counting branded plastic packaging during cleanup efforts, #breakfreefromplastic is identifying the corporation's most responsible for plastic pollution. “Corporations like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle, Unilever, Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, and McDonald’s have a major role to play when it comes to plastic pollution. We are sold coffee, soda, chips, candy, sandwiches, shampoo, soap, and even fruits and vegetables packaged in throwaway plastic. It’s time for these corporations to take responsibility for single-use plastic,” said Stiv Wilson, Campaigns Director at The Story of Stuff Project. “As First Nations Peoples, we continue to resist corporate colonialism which profits from extractive economies and disposable plastic culture while pushing the burden of responsibility to community recycling and individual consumer choice,” stated Mati Waiya, Executive Director at the Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation. “We maintain our traditional responsibilities to protect our homelands and waters – that includes holding corporations accountable for their role in generating this excessive waste,” Mati Waiya added. #breakfreeformplastic is mobilizing massive citizen muscle with a common mission so corporations can no longer frame the issue as one of only consumer responsibility. The movement boasts nearly 1,300 groups working towards a similar goal of holding companies accountable for the plastic waste they produce. “It’s unfair for North American and European companies who earn billions of dollars annually to pass the burden of managing the waste of their products to communities and cities in the global south. These companies know full well that these countries lack the resources and capacity to handle this type of plastic waste in their systems,” stated Anne Larracas, Asia Pacific Managing Director at the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives. Member organizations of the #breakfreefromplastic movement involved in the global brand audit efforts include: Greenpeace International, Surfrider Foundation, 5 Gyres, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm, Mother Earth Foundation, Nipe Fagio, The Story of Stuff Project, Zero Waste Montenegro, Amicas De La Terra Mallorca, CEJAD, PlastiCo Project, NESMAC-KITARA, Student PIRGs, Inland Ocean Coalition, Planeteers of Southern Maine, Instituto Argonauta Para Conservação Costeira e Marinha, People and the Sea, Rockefeller University, Científicos de la Basura, Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation, and Let’s Do It World.
# # # # #To view the brand audit toolkit, click here. To learn why brand audits are better than clean-ups, click here. About #breakfreefromplastic: #breakfreefromplastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, nearly 1,300 groups from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and to push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. These organizations share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, which guide their work at the community level and represent a global, unified vision. www.breakfreefromplastic.org. Press Contacts: Shilpi Chhotray, #breakfreefromplastic (email@example.com) Claire Arkin, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (firstname.lastname@example.org) Perry Wheeler, Greenpeace (email@example.com) Highlights from past brand audits:
Inside the global war on plastic pollution
Written by Joel Makower. Article originally posted in Green Biz. Part One of a two-part series. It is, in many ways, something out of the blue that everyone could see coming: an all-out battle against plastics, or at least plastic waste. It’s a fight that’s been brewing for years — decades, even. Indeed, its beginnings parallel those of the modern environmental movement. This year has seen the eruption of disparate skirmishes into a full-fledged war to end plastic pollution, primarily the waste ending up in waterways and, eventually, oceans. The warriors include local and international activist groups, local and national governments and some of the world’s biggest brands and their supply-chain partners. There’s been no single, catalytic moment. Rather, the momentum seems largely self-generated, the result of a confluence of events and long-term trends, including growing concern over plastics in marine environments, especially oceans, and about its impacts on both sea life and land life. Increased awareness of circular economy principles, and the growing potential of closed-loop materials flows are contributing factors, along with new policies, primarily in Europe and Asia, that discourage waste and encourage recycling. Public awareness of the problems is rising, particularly among younger consumers. And the leadership of companies, cities and other institutions in setting goals and creating bold and innovative policies and business models is showing that change, including radical change, is possible. The year already has seen a spate of corporate and institutional commitments. All indications are that many more are to come. Over the past few months, I’ve been piecing together this state of affairs: where we are; how we got here; and where we might be headed. It’s a complex story, long in the telling, involving a wide cast of characters — working variously in concert and in opposition — and large-scale commitments to end plastic pollution that sometimes lack necessary solutions, at least for now, to achieve their ambitious goals. What’s clear from more than a dozen interviews I conducted is that this is a dynamic and evolving saga. And for all the activity by companies, cities and nations, global action to stem the tide, literally, of plastic pollution is just getting underway.
Chhotray is the Senior Communications Officer for Break Free from Plastic, a global movement of nearly 1,300 groups working around the globe on plastic waste issues, some for many decades, others more recently. She sees this moment as an opportunity to catalyze action that’s been brewing for years."This is the first time that groups all over the world are working at different parts of the plastic lifecycle — from extraction to disposal — in solidarity under the same banner," she told me. "And it's the first time colleagues in the global north, like the United States and Europe, are really understanding and listening to what's happening in China and Southeast Asia." The plastics issue, and especially straws, are catching on among "the younger demographic, specifically millennials, and even kids in the K-12 age group, coming and talking to their families about the problem," Chhotray said. "There's more dialogue coming from the NGO sector, the advocacy community, scientists, researchers, engineers even, who are working to develop better materials." So, while straws have received much of the attention, they represent an entry point into a much larger conversation about single-use, disposable plastics and a pathway to engage with companies and governments on taking long-overdue action.
Support Grows to Control Plastic Waste in International Trade Treaty
From plastic straws to a sea change for plastic
Written by Matt Prindiville. Article originally appeared here. Right now, we are all part of an interesting moment of change in our culture. In the span of a very short period of time, plastic straws have gone from a relatively accepted part of everyday existence to a niche-need product. As someone who works to end plastic pollution for a living, I’ve been getting a lot of questions as to how this happened and what it means. I want to begin by crediting my friends at the Plastic Pollution Coalition and Lonely Whale Foundation. Both groups realized that straws could be the “gateway drug” to get people hooked on taking greater action to solve plastic pollution. And the genius of what became the Strawless Ocean campaign is that the call to action was so simple: Next time you’re out at a restaurant or a bar, tell the server, "No straw, please." What this simple act of resistance does is that it starts a conversation — between you and the restaurant or bar, and also between you and everyone you’re with. Suddenly, the people you’re out with are confronted with a question — "Should I say 'no straw,' too?" Or they might say, "Oh, that’s interesting. Why no straw?" A conversation about plastic in our environment is teed up for everyone at the table. But if this action stops at straws, we won’t have accomplished very much. One of the core questions we and our friends in the plastic-pollution movement are asking is, "How do we turn this awareness and desire for action into truly transformative change that reshapes how we think about and use throwaway products and creates something better in its place?" If this action stops at straws, we won’t have accomplished very much. A couple of years ago, my friend Marcus Eriksen from the 5 Gyres Institute and I were having a conversation centered around this exact question. That conversation led us and several of our friends to author a report called the Better Alternatives Now List (BAN List), where we analyzed publicly available data from a number of sources to determine which plastic products were most widely found in the environment. We purposely did not look at microfibers from synthetic clothing, microbeads from cosmetic products, fishing gear or plastic dust abrading from tires. These are all significant sources of plastic pollution, but from our perspective, they are products that require technical design changes from industry, and not necessarily changes in the way we consume. When we looked at the data, what we found was that most products, not surprisingly, were convenience to-go food and beverage packaging. Here are the top 10: Food wrappers (candy, chips, etc.) Bottle caps Beverage bottles Plastic bags Straws and stirrers Lids Utensils Cigarette butts Take-out containers Cups and plates When you look at the data worldwide, you see pretty much the same types of products in the environment. The exception is that in Latin America, Africa, India and Southeast Asia, you also see a lot of single-serve personal care products and sundry items — shampoo, laundry detergent, dish detergent, etc — packaged in little plastic pouches commonly called sachets. Now, you can solve plastic pollution in the environment by switching out throwaway plastic for another throwaway product made from a different material, such as paper, for example. However, with this approach we’re often pursuing strategies that are "out of the frying pan, into the fire." For example, styrofoam container bans, which we support, often lead to restaurants substituting paper-based to-go containers, many of which are made with toxic Teflon-type chemicals that have been proven to cause harm. And throwaway paper products come with their own set of environmental problems — deforestation, carbon emissions from manufacture and transport, methane emissions from decomposing in landfills, etc. While substituting more sustainable materials for high-pollution plastic products is likely to be part of the solution for certain products, the real game-changer is figuring out how to get what we want without any disposable materials at all. Let’s imagine what this world might look like: Imagine that you walk into a coffee shop and realize you forgot your reusable mug, and right as you turn to your friend to complain about how hard it is to do the right thing, the person behind the counter says, "That’s OK. We’ve got reusable cups on deposit. That will be $1 extra and you can change it out for a clean mug at any coffee shop in town next time you need your caffeine fix." Or imagine that you’re taking lunch to go from your favorite restaurant to eat in the park. And as you wrestle with the guilt of of taking yet another throwaway to-go box, the person behind the counter hands you your food in a reusable to-go box and mentions there is a kiosk in the park where you can drop it off (or at any restaurant or grocery store in the city). Or imagine that you’ve ordered take-out from Seamless or GrubHub or a mealkit from Blue Apron, and the delivery driver hands you your food in reusable containers and says that they will pick them up next time you place an order. Now imagine that every airport, every mall, every theme park, every zoo, every university campus, every office building and corporate campus did the same thing — got rid of throwaway cups, lids, plates, cutlery, straws, bags, etc. So that everywhere you go, you are getting what you want without all the waste, in reusable systems that are created and run by business. The really great news is that this is happening right now. All over the world, businesses, college campuses and communities are saying no to disposable packaging and designing reusable systems that are convenient, sustainable and way more fun than the old throwaway model. Here’s just a few examples: In Switzerland, ReCircle is serving hundreds of to-go oriented restaurants with reusable containers. In Germany, cities such as Freiberg, Hamburg and Berlin have reusable coffee cups on deposit at cafes throughout each city. Companies such as CupClub, DishJoy and VesselWorks are creating reusable systems for coffee cups, dishware, to-go-containers and more, for businesses, campuses, office buildings and communities that want to ditch throwaway for reusable. In Portland, Oregon, and Durham, North Carolina, businesses and community members have developed reusable to-go container systems to serve restaurants and patrons. So, how do we replace the throwaway society with a culture of stewardship? We believe that there are important roles for communities, businesses and individuals.