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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT Jed Alegado jed@breakfreefromplastic.org, Claire Arkin, claire@no-burn.org Vancouver, 6 June 2017—At the Global Sustainable Brands Summit today, evidence from brand audits exposed top global manufacturing companies Pepsi, Unilever, Nestle, and Coke amongst the companies most responsible for plastic pollution in India, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Speaking at the summit, Froilan Grate of the environmental non-profit GAIA, or the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, presented evidence that more than 50% of all single-use plastic waste recovered from selected zero waste cities and clean-up sites in the Philippines, Indonesia and India is made up of product packaging from leading brands. This evidence, he said, shows that brands are doing too little too late to remediate their historical and ongoing pollution. The panel, entitled, “Stopping Plastic Pollution through Design Change and Circularity,” also featured Anna Cummins of 5Gyres and Matt Prindiville of Upstream Policy, all three representing the #breakfreefromplastic movement. “As the biggest producers of throwaway plastic packaging, brands carry the heaviest responsibility for the plastic problem,” said Grate. “Plastic packaging from brands is endangering wildlife and the health of the oceans, and poisoning the water we drink and the food we eat. But the current commitments on plastic reduction and package redesign means business as usual for at least the next decade. So far corporations have given us lip-service when what is needed is urgent and drastic reduction.” More than a dozen environmental groups in the three countries conducted waste and brand audits in the past 12 months. The latest audits were conducted in May across 18 states in India as a lead-up to the World Environment Day, which India is hosting this year. Waste and brand audits are conducted prior to actual implementation of Zero Waste strategies to gather data and help understand the types and amount of waste generated by households and commercial establishments. Brand audits complement waste audits by categorizing and counting branded residual plastics to pinpoint the main producers of the waste. The results of all the audits are remarkably similar. Branded product packaging from multinationals topped the list of the most commonly-found plastic waste, with multilayered plastics accounting for nearly half of branded plastics audited. Across the three countries, a total of 72,721 pieces of branded plastic waste were picked and analyzed. Close to 75% was food packaging. The rest was household and personal care packaging. In India, PepsiCo is the top multinational polluter, followed by Perfetti van Melle and Unilever. Other multinational corporations in the top 10 list are Coca-Cola and Mondelez. In audits conducted in multiple cities in the Philippines and Indonesia, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Nestle, PT Torabika, Colgate-Palmolive, and Coca-Cola are among the top 10 multinational polluters. Many of the multinational brands identified were present at the Sustainable Brands summit. Instead of focusing on reducing their product packaging, these companies have made weak commitments with a heavy emphasis on recycling, including chemical recycling, which is still unproven. Groups in the #breakfreefromplastic movement, including GAIA, have noted that these commitments are woefully inadequate, and that recycling alone is not enough to stem the tide of plastic pollution. GAIA has also noted that mainstream discussions on plastic waste have shifted the blame on the shortcomings of waste management in Asia, and to human behavior. Some multinational brands are asking cities to implement better waste collection and consumers to be “more responsible,” and are supporting harmful approaches such as burning plastics in incinerators and cement kilns. “Plastic pollution is the most visible manifestation of how brands have externalized the environmental and human costs of their marketing activities,” Grate said. “We are challenging brands to take accountability for the pollution they cause. As a first step, they need to disclose the extent of their historical and current plastic packaging, drastically reduce plastic production, and redesign packaging and delivery systems. Corporations’ failure to acknowledge accountability and provide immediate action means missing the biggest, quickest and most important solution to stop plastic pollution.” ### NOTES: Find out more. Read the short report. Watch the video.  

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

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

As the Indian government hosts this year’s World Environment Day under the banner, “Beat Plastic Pollution,” 10 environmental groups across different cities and regions of India—Bengaluru, Chennai, Darjeeling, Dehradun, Delhi, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Kolkata, Leh, Mumbai, Nagaland, Pune, Sikkim, and Trivandrum—conducted unprecedented and coordinated waste and brand audits as a critical first step in identifying top corporate polluters and holding them accountable. The results of these audits are remarkably similar to audits done in Indonesia and the Philippines, which showed that multilayered plastics accounted for nearly half of branded plastics audited.  Across the three countries, a total of 72,721 pieces of branded plastic waste were picked and analyzed, close to 75% of which was food packaging. The rest was household and personal care packaging. After the 21-day brand audit in India, PepsiCo was found to be the top multinational polluter. Perfetti van Melle and Unilever came in as second and third, respectively. Other multinational corporations in the top 10 list are Coca-Cola, Mondelez, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, and Ferrero SpA. Among Indian companies, Amul, Britannia, ITC, Parle, and Haldiram are  in the top 10 list. In audits conducted in multiple cities in the Philippines and Indonesia, Unilever, Procter and Gamble, Nestle, PT Torabika, Colgate-Palmolive, and Coca-Cola are among the top 10 multinational polluters. “For far too long, multinational companies have been making billions of dollars from selling products that come in single-use low-value plastic packaging with no regard to how the resulting waste is managed,” said Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of the #breakfreefromplastic movement. “The corporations responsible for the proliferation of these single-use, zero-value, and non-recyclable plastics need to own up to the massive pollution associated with their brands and products. They must clean up their act and start investing in alternative packaging materials and delivery systems that are ecologically sustainable for the people and the planet,” he added. While clean-ups tend to be a feel-good activity that help raise awareness about plastic pollution, they fail to stop plastic pollution or identify and hold accountable those responsible for pollution. “We’re sick and tired of being blamed and of cleaning up the mess produced by corporations. By identifying who’s behind the waste that’s polluting our countries and demanding change, we aim to make clean-ups a thing of the past,” said Pratibha Sharma, GAIA’s India Coordinator.

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

Many of the multinational brands identified to be most responsible for plastic pollution through clean-up and audit activities have announced commitments to make their packaging more recyclable. However,recycling alone is not enough to staunch the steady flow of new plastic. Since the 1950s, only 9% of plastic ever made has been recycled, while plastic production is slated to increase by 40% in the next decade. The plastic recycling trade has allowed countries in the global north to export these problem plastics to poorer countries unequipped to deal with this plastic tsunami, where most end up in landfills or the surrounding environment. “In addition to dealing with huge volumes of disposable plastics, we have to fight unsustainable incineration technologies that are being peddled to us as solutions,” said David Sutasurya, Executive Director of Yayasan Pengembangan Biosains dan Bioteknologi (YPBB). “We can’t recycle our way out of this problem. Much of the plastic packaging currently on the market contains toxic additives that put recycling workers’ and waste pickers’ health at risk. The only way forward is for major consumer-facing corporations to stop producing single-use products and packaging that are used for seconds and then lead to pollution forever,” Sharma added. In stark contrast to corporations’ inadequacy in addressing the plastic pollution problem, communities across Asia are demonstrating Zero Waste solutions that can be adopted by cities and regions throughout the world. In San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines, 95% of waste is diverted from landfill through broad community participation, recycling, and composting programs. In Pune, India, a women’s waste-picker collective of over 3,000 recycled 50,000 tons of waste from 600,000 households in 2016. These Zero Waste systems are rooted in social justice and environmental protection. As corporations continue to show their disregard for public health and the environment by refusing to take accountability for the pollution they cause, communities across Asia are working together to implement solutions that not only reduce pollution, but also develop systems that create jobs, protect public health, the environment, and the climate. They demand that governments and corporates heed the evidence, and step up to their roles, too.   RESOURCES
  • To view the pan India waste and brand audit report, click here.
  • To learn why brand audits are better than clean-ups and what a brand audit looks like, click here.
  PRESS CONTACTS
  • Sherma E. Benosa, Communications Officer, GAIA Asia Pacific | sherma@no-burn.org | +63 9178157570
  • Jed Alegado, Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic Asia Pacific | jed@breakfreefromplastic.org
 

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Activists call on G7 and corporations to end plastic pollution crisis

Washington, DC – New data collected through cleanups and brand audits confirms that some of the world’s largest corporations — including Coca-Cola, Unilever, Nestlé, and Procter & Gamble — are top contributors to single-use plastic pollution worldwide. With the G7 set to release a plastics charter on World Oceans Day this week, the Break Free From Plastic movement is demanding the world’s largest economies and companies do more to stem the tide of the throwaway plastic choking our oceans, waterways, and communities. “It’s time for the world’s largest governments and companies to recognise that we cannot recycle our way out of this problem. They must put a stop to plastic pollution before it’s too late,” said Greenpeace plastics campaigner Graham Forbes. “All over the world, people are fighting plastic pollution at the community level, but the crisis we’re facing requires comprehensive regulation and corporate action to immediately move away from single-use plastics.” Break Free From Plastic member organisation GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives) led cleanups and brand audits ahead of World Environment Day (June 5) to document branded plastic pollution at key cities throughout India, identifying PepsiCo India, Perfetti van Melle, and Hindustan Unilever as the worst multinational polluters. Greenpeace Africa led cleanups and brand audits throughout Senegal, South Africa, Kenya, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Earth Day, identifying Coca-Cola as the worst polluter. The results of brand audits conducted in five cities in the Philippines were released on June 1, with five of the ten most polluting companies also among the top polluters in a2017 Freedom Island audit of ocean pollution. Those companies include Unilever, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, and PT Torabika Eka Semesta. Coca-Cola was also a top polluter in the new audit. “The results of our recent brand audits have underscored the central role that companies play in the plastic pollution crisis,” said Froilan Grate, GAIA Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator and Executive Director of GAIA Philippines. “These companies cannot continue to churn out disposable packaging for their products and expect people to clean up their mess later. Corporations need to own up to this problem and stop drowning the planet in plastic.” The Break Free From Plastic movement — representing more than 1,200 groups around the world — is calling for G7 countries to pass binding reduction targets and bans on single-use plastics, invest in new product delivery models based on reuse, and hold polluting corporations accountable. In recent months, McDonald’sStarbucksProcter & GambleNestléCoca-ColaPepsiCoand Unilever all published statements or plans addressing the plastic pollution crisis they contribute to, but none of the companies included significant actions to reduce their production of plastic. People are taking action worldwide to fill the void left by corporations. Recent examples include:

ENDS Notes: In May, the European Union Commission took steps to reduce plastic pollution. Their legislative proposal includes bans on certain single-use plastic items, and subjects others to Extended Producer Responsibility whereby the producers of certain single-use items must contribute to the cost of collection, treatment and clean up. The proposal also requires 90% collection of plastic bottles by 2025, and for EU countries to set significant consumption reduction targets. This weekend, thousands of individuals will gather in Washington, DC, 60 locations across the United States, and in 23 countries to March for the Ocean. The march will focus on offshore oil drilling, ending plastic pollution, and protecting our coastlines. Photo and video: For photos of actions against single-use plastics around the globe, click here. For a wide photo and video collection of ocean plastic pollution, click here. For a Break Free From Plastic video explaining brand audits, click here. Media contacts: Perry Wheeler, Senior Communications Specialist, Greenpeace USA: +1 (301) 675 8766, perry.wheeler@greenpeace.org Greenpeace International Press Desk: +31 20 718 2470, pressdesk.int@greenpeace.org(available 24 hours) Post by Greenpeace International which originally appeared here https://www.greenpeace.org/international/press-release/16830/activists-call-on-g7-and-corporations-to-end-plastic-pollution-crisis/

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

The call came as the groups revealed the results of their unprecedented coordinated clean-up and waste and brand audits which showed that a tremendous amount of single-use plastic polluting the environment is used by manufacturers for packaging of fast-moving consumer products (FMCG). “The numbers are staggering. There is simply too much plastic in the environment. This has to change,” said Pratibha Sharma, National Coordinator of GAIA India. “Corporations cannot continue polluting the environment, make money out of the problem they are creating but contribute nothing to cleaning up the pollution they cause. The government must ensure that the corporations cannot continue doing business as usual, by enacting a comprehensive extended producer responsibility policy,” she added. From May 16 to 26, ten GAIA member organizations and partners conducted clean-up and waste and brand audits in 18 states in India. Of the total waste collected, 46,100 pieces of plastic waste were branded, of which 47.5% were multilayer plastic packaging which can neither be recycled nor composted. Results showed that both local and international brands are responsible for the plastic waste pollution in the country. PepsiCo India topped the multinational polluters list, followed by Perfetti van Melle and Hindustan Unilever, an Indian subsidiary of Unilever, as second and third, respectively. Other multinational brands in the top 10 list of polluters are Coca-Cola, Mondelez, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, and Ferrero SpA. Meanwhile, Amul, Britannia, ITC, Parle emerged as the top corporate polluters amongst the national brands. “The FMCG segment which consumes more than 50% of plastics produced are leaking the same into our environment unattended. This is leaking public money into drains. The primary function of packaging materials has changed from protection to advertising brand names. This has to be challenged; the plastic industry in general, and brands, in particular, should be held liable for the plastic pollution,” said Shibu Nair, Executive Director of Thanal, the anchor organization of the waste and brand audits conducted in Thiruvanthapuram, Kerala.
The audits were conducted as a lead-up activity to this year’s World Environment Day celebration with the theme, “Beat Plastic Pollution.” Environmental groups across different cities and regions of India—Bengaluru, Chennai, Darjeeling, Dehradun, Delhi, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Kolkata, Leh, Mumbai, Nagaland, Pune, Sikkim, and Trivandrum—took part in this exercise. They covered urban metros and mini metros along with ecological fragile zones such as beaches and rivers and hard-to-reach mountainous regions to account for diverse demographics and lifestyle standards.
The waste collected was audited under various categories: unbranded plastics, branded plastics, polystyrene, rubber, glass, metal, textile, and paper. The branded plastics were further audited to record the brand and identify the manufacturer and also the types of packaging such as single layer, multilayer, polystyrene, expanded polystyrene, hard plastics, PET, foil, and others. They were also classified according to product category such as food packaging, household packaging, or personal care. “Through the brand audit activity, we found that there is a huge amount of waste in the form of single-use and multilayer plastic packaging that get generated at a very high rate every single day. Such plastic waste is not only detrimental to the environment in terms of plastic pollution but is also causing frequent floods and drainage problems in Mumbai and other cities. Even from the recycling point of view, multilayer packaging is very problematic as it has zero to low value, and waste pickers find it very challenging to collect,” said Jyoti Mhapsekar, founder of Stree Mukti Sanghatana, a Mumbai-based organization that works closely with waste pickers. “For far too long, multinational companies have been making billions of dollars from selling products that come in single-use low-value plastic packaging with no regard to how the resulting waste is managed,” said Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of the #breakfreefromplastic movement. “The corporations responsible for the proliferation of these single-use, zero-value, and non-recyclable plastics need to own up to the massive pollution associated with their brands and products. They must clean up their act and start investing in alternative pyackaging materials and delivery systems that are ecologically sustainable for the people and the planet,” he added. While India has a low plastic consumption per capita as compared to its western counterparts, this consumption is going up steadily and could double within a decade or less. Manufacturers of FMCG are pushing the disposable culture and sachet economy in developing countries using the argument that small quantities of their products allow for shampoos, detergents and other consumables to be easily available, accessible and affordable to the poor. “Currently, a huge cost of managing the post-consumer waste is being externalized to the environment, cities and communities. If the costs of the collection, handling, transport, storage and recycling of their packaging waste were to be incorporated, it will undoubtedly make it unaffordable to the poor. Manufacturers and brands need to look at alternative dispensing mechanisms such as refill systems, to continue to allow the consumers to access them,” said Kripa Ramachandran, researcher at Citizen consumer and civic Action Group, a Chennai-based organization working on building Zero Waste systems in Chennai. In contrast with corporations’ inadequacy in addressing the plastic pollution problem, cities and communities across India are demonstrating Zero Waste solutions that can be adopted by cities and regions throughout the world. In Kerala’s Suchitwa Mission, a Green Protocol was launched recently as part of the government’s anti-plastic drive and Green-Kerala Mission. The Green Protocol restricts the usage of plastic and other non-degradable articles including disposable glasses and plates and thermocol decorations in social and official functions. In Pune, SWaCH, a cooperative of over 3,000 wastepickers, recycled 50,000 tons of waste from 600,000 households in 2016 alone. Waste-pickers in India are essential to a circular economy, and companies need to  design their products and packaging with their health and well-being in mind.
Of the total waste collected, 46,100 pieces of plastic waste were branded, of which 47.5% were multilayer plastic packaging which can neither be recycled nor composted.
“Today, the entire recycling sector, with the wastepicker at its base, subsidises the manufacturing industry. A lot of recycling in developing countries internalises several costs by compromising the health, safety, and statutory entitlements of the workers involved in the industry, and the environment. Only if one added to it the environmental and health impacts and costs of the petrochemical industry can a more realistic assessment of the actual calculations towards the ubiquitous disposable plastic straw, bag of milk, carrier bag, or cup of tea emerge,” said Lakshmi Narayan, founder of SwaCH. “Addressing plastic pollution requires consumers, producers, policy makers, and waste managers to take responsibility. However, producers make the choices about product design, packaging, and delivery. We urge the Government of India and all state and city governments to hold them liable for the environmental and social costs that result from their choices,” said Satyarupa Shekhar, Director for Research and Advocacy at CAG.Participating groups in the World Environment Day Brand Audits in India have issued a short report with specific demands for policymakers, as well as for corporates to reduce and redesign their products and packaging. CONTACT: Pratibha Sharma | pratibha@no-burn.org/info@no-burn.org | +91-8411008973  

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Eight Easy Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Waste

Brown Pelican juvenile tossing plastic spoon up in the air. Photo: Sebastian Kennerknecht/Minden Pictures

By doing so, you'll be helping birds and other wildlife.

If there’s one material we can’t seem to live without, it’s plastic. And there’s a reason for that: It's cheap, durable, and lightweight, making it perfect for everything from iPhones to eyewear.

But what makes plastic so useful for humans is exactly what makes it a nasty environmental contaminate—it spreads easily and takes forever to degrade, finding its way to our lands and oceans where it wreaks havoc on wildlife. To date, at least 700 species of marine animals, including shorebirds, have been entangled by plastic or mistaken it for food. The result is often suffocation or starvation.

Since the 1950s, we've generated 8.3 billion metric tons of the stuff, of which a scant nine percent has been recycled. And by 2050, scientists predict the oceans will stock more plastic than fish.

But as problematic and worrisome as all of this is, completely cutting plastic from our lives is impossible at this point. Reducing your plastic use, however, is surprisingly easy and pain-free. You’re not going to end the problem overnight, but here are some simple tricks to waste less.

1. Cut Out Plastic Cutlery—Especially When Ordering In

Have you ever tried to cut a piece of broccoli with a plastic fork? Yeah, not fun. And yet Americans use 100 million plastic utensils everyday, much of which comes wrapped in even more plastic.

When ordering food online, opt out of receiving plastic utensils—it’s often as easy as just checking (or unchecking) a box. That's it. And if you’re ordering takeout in person or over the phone, ask the restaurant to skip the plastic flatware.

Better yet: Try cooking for yourself. Although the idea is radical, home-cooked food is often healthier and it produces way less waste.

2. Party Plastic-Free

Let’s be honest, no post-college party needs those red Solo cups, which may take 450 years to decompose. So why not use real cups?

Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or bridal shower, one great way to reduce plastic waste is to simply use real tableware. If you don’t have enough, ask friends to bring extras (people tend to care more about food than whether or not the plates match).

The downside, of course, is cleanup, but there are even guides for that! And if you’ve got a dishwasher, well, you’ve really got no excuses.

If you still feel that the burden of cleanup is too great (or you’re serving booze, which might lead to wobbly hands), avoid the plastic tableware and at least opt for sustainable products instead.

3. Say Bye Bye to Balloons

Many balloons are made of plastic, and when they get away, they can travel for thousands of miles before touching down. Some birds mistake them for food, and others mistake them (or their ribbons) for nesting material.

“We see this all of the time,” says Steve Kress, executive director of Audubon Project Puffin. “One time, I found a ribbon tangled around a puffin in its burrow. It said on the balloon, ‘Angry Birds.’”

Birds aren't the only animals that balloons harm either; they pose dangers to all other manners of wildlife. So go ahead and ditch the balloons at your next big celebration. And if you're worried about deflating the fun, try some other options. If you’re feeling crafty, make tissue garlands or paper lanterns. And if you’re feeling lazy, just buy a banner instead—non-plastic, of course.

4. Take Advantage of Tap Water

Evian. Fuji. Smart Water. They all sound special—but are they really any healthier or tastier than tap?

Not really. In most parts of the world with public, potable water, tap is just as safe to drink as the stuff that comes in plastic. It’s also often as tasty—or tastier. Globally, we spend more than $100 billion each year on bottled water, a sharp contrast to the pennies you pay to turn on a faucet. Yet another reason to love tap.

So how can you take advantage of this incredible public resource? Find a reusable bottle that you love, and don’t let it leave your side. If you have trouble finding a place to refill it, check out WeTap or Dopper, Smartphone tap maps.

If you still occasionally fall victim to Big Water's advertising ploys—who doesn’t want Jennifer Aniston’s Smart Water glow?—try to reuse the bottles as much as possible. No one will ever know.

5. Skip the Plastic Straws

Ah, the humble straw: American staple, transporter of sodas and iced coffee, an entertaining bubble machine—and also a major threat to wildlife, as anyone who’s seen an impaled sea turtle can attest.

Ridding straws from your life is no easy feat. Americans alone use 500 million of them each day, after all. Most of the time they are provided without consent and thrown out thoughtlessly. But they can also be necessary—especially if you suffer from certain medical conditions.

If you don’t need these suckers, don’t use them. Tell your server to skip the straws as soon as you sit down at a restaurant, or use a refillable cup at your local coffee shop. And if you do need to use a straw, try a sustainable alternative. There are straws made of bamboo and paperstainless steel and titanium. Heck, there are even straws made of straw!

But my personal favorite is pasta straws. Bloody Mary, anyone?

6. Buy Bulk Foods

Food and packaging containers account for nearly half of all trash in landfills, according to the EPA, and buying bulk can help stem that stream.

So go ahead, instead of picking up that small jar of peanut butter, spring for five pounds of the salty goodness. If you do, you’ll save money, trips to the grocery store, and plastic waste. According to NC State University, buying peanut butter in bulk, for example, can save families seven pounds of landfill waste per year. Other items that will yield large savings in plastic waste when bought in bulk include staples such as noodles, rice, and beans, according to One Green Planet.

7. Get Better at Recycling

While everyone knows they should be recycling by now, even the best of us still don't always get it right.

Turns out, we recycle only a fraction of the plastic waste we produce, and that’s partly due to poor recycling techniques. You do, in fact, need to rinse out your containers, for example. Otherwise they might contaminate plastics around them and end up in a landfill. Also, avoid tossing out recycling in a used plastic bag. What might seem like a smart twofer turns out to be potentially damaging to recycling machinery.

And now that China stopped accepting our recycling, try to avoid buying plastics numbered 3-7, which include common food products like single-serving yogurt cups (another reason to buy bulk!). Many U.S. municipalities can no longer recycle them.

“People think that they’ve done their good deed for the day by throwing plastic in the blue bin,” says Shilpi Chhotray, the senior communications officer for Break Free From Plastic. But in reality, she says, much of that “recycling” just ends up as trash due to human error.

8. Actually Remember Your Reusable Bag

Look, you probably already have plenty of reusable bags, but the tricky part is remembering to take them anywhere.

“Bringing your own bags is a no-brainer, but a lot of people don’t do it,” Kress says. “And those little plastic bags are a big problem.”

Here's your solve: Store one in everything you take with you—your purse, backpack, gym bag—and if you drive to the store, in your car. You want bags everywhere. There’s just one hard part: When you return from home, don’t forget to put them back.

And if you’re still worried you’ll forget them, just add “reusable bag” to your shopping list.

Take It to the Next Level

If you’ve already mastered these tips, it might be time to up your plastic-free game. Chhotray calls this the culture of “leveling up.”

These tips are “a good place to start,” she says, “but a terrible place to stop.”

If your favorite restaurant gives out single-use plastics, for example, ask them to switch to sustainable alternatives. If that doesn’t work, try circulating a petition in your community. The next step is to engage at the civil level to put local laws on the books that reduce plastic waste. (In July, for example, Seattle will enact a ban on plastic straws and cutlery.)

“Take your practice and get people involved in your cause,” she says. “The idea is that we have to move away from individual change to this culture of leveling up.”

Written by Benji Jones. Article originally appeared at https://www.asyousow.org/blog/2018/5/10/resin-industry-takes-first-tentative-step-to-deal-with-plastic-pollution.

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New Data from Five Philippine Cities Reveal Multinational Brands are the Country’s Top Plastic Polluters

Quezon City, Philippines (June 1, 2018) — New data from waste and brand audits conducted in five Philippine cities confirm results of earlier coastal clean-up audits that multinational brands are the country’s top sources of plastic pollution. Environmental groups Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) presented the results of the audits in a press conference today, ahead of World Environment Day on June 5.  This year’s theme is #BeatPlasticPollution. GAIA and MEF, which are part of the global #breakfreefromplastic movement, are calling on corporations to drastically reduce the production of throwaway plastic packaging as a necessary and urgent solution to the global plastic crisis. Data gathered by MEF in the past 12 months showed that single-use plastic packaging from multinational companies (MNCs) such as Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, PT Mayora, Colgate-Palmolive, and Coca-Cola comprise almost three-fourths of all collected residual waste, or waste that can neither be composted nor recycled. The findings were based on audits conducted in Malabon and Quezon City in the National Capital Region; the City of San Fernando, Pampanga in Region 3; Batangas City in Region 4-A; Nueva Vizcaya in Region 2; and Tacloban City in Region 8. The audit results are consistent with findings from coastal waste and brand audits conducted in Freedom Island in September 2017 which showed that the same international companies are among the top plastic polluters. “On land and in oceans, these companies are choking the environment with their problematic packaging. It’s time we hold these companies accountable. They cannot continue raking in money and then passing on the responsibility and costs of cleaning their mess to cities and Filipino taxpayers,” said Froilan Grate, regional coordinator of GAIA Asia Pacific and president of Mother Earth Foundation. MEF conducted the waste and brand audits as an integral component of an Asia-wide project coordinated by GAIA to develop Zero Waste model cities in the region. Waste and brand audits are conducted prior to actual implementation of Zero Waste strategies to gather data and help understand the types of waste generated by households and commercial establishments. Brand audits complement waste audits by categorizing and counting branded residual plastics to pinpoint the main producers of the waste. Of the total waste collected in the identified areas, 61.26% is biodegradable; 19.17% is recyclable; 16.12% is residual; and 3.44%, hazardous. Of the residual plastic waste collected, a whopping 74% is branded throwaway packaging. Only 10 companies are responsible for 56% of all the branded throwaway packaging, and 40% of all the throwaway packaging was produced by the six MNCs. “This shows that companies must be compelled to stop using throwaway packaging. Even if we ban single-use bags, plastic straws, and other problematic products, we won’t be able to curb plastic pollution if companies don’t change. They need to do their part to reduce plastic waste by shifting to innovative and ecological ways to distribute their products,” Grate added. The proliferation and unabated production of throwaway plastic packaging is one of the biggest hurdles faced by cities and municipalities that are transitioning to Zero Waste. This can be seen in the experience of the City of San Fernando in Pampanga. The city has been consistently recognized for its strict implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (Republic Act 9003), which mandates segregation of waste at the household level. This has allowed the local government to significantly reduce waste handling costs. But City Councilor Benedict Jasper Lagman shared that the city still spends up to Php 15 million annually just to manage residual waste, composed mostly of plastic packaging. “Despite the best efforts of our barangays to compost and recycle as much as they can, we are still left with waste that are beyond our capacity to manage,” Lagman said. “We call on companies to eliminate or redesign these problematic products and packaging. When this happens, San Fernando will truly be a Zero Waste city.” He added: “San Fernando’s Zero Waste strategy is, at its core, the implementation of RA 9003. Together with other cities in the country that have pledged to go Zero Waste, we are showing that ecological waste management and Zero Waste is possible and can be implemented nationally. However, more support is needed at the national level, particularly with residual plastic waste. National plastic bans and plastic packaging reduction policies will help many cities implement RA 9003 and aim for Zero Waste.” Sonia Mendoza, Chairman of Mother Earth Foundation, said that Zero Waste is the solution to the waste problem. “Our model communities show that implementing Zero Waste programs results in huge reduction of waste management costs, cleaner and greener surroundings, and better livelihood for waste workers,” she said. Yet, Mendoza lamented, “instead of promoting Zero Waste solutions, the government is pursuing so-called waste-to-energy incineration systems, despite the fact that such facilities are bad for public health, expensive, and contravene RA 9003 and the Clean Air Act.” “The real solutions are right here. Zero Waste is not only possible, it is already transforming communities that implement it. Instead of looking at problematic solutions, the government should promote Zero Waste programs and come up with supportive regulations such as a national ban on problematic products and packaging, and policies to compel companies to redesign their packaging,” she added. Zero Waste is a resource management solution that addresses the waste problem at root, ensuring resource efficiency, resource recovery, and protection of scarce natural resources. It promotes waste prevention through strategies that include waste reduction, composting, recycling and reuse, changes in consumption habits, and product redesign. The release of the Philippine waste and brand audit results is part of a series of lead-up activities to the World Environment Day celebration by member organizations of GAIA Asia Pacific. The #breakfreefromplastic movement recently launched a Brand Audit Toolkit to encourage groups to conduct more waste and brand audits and contribute to a global database of companies responsible for the most problematic products and packaging. _____________________________________________________________________________________ About GAIA GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries working together to advance Zero Waste solutions. www.no-burn.org About MEF Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) is a non-profit organization actively engaged in addressing waste and toxic pollution, climate change, and other health, and environmental justice issues in the Philippines. It is best known for its advocacy of Zero Waste through the systematic reduction and proper waste management. www.motherearthphil.org.   About #breakfreefromplastic #breakfreefromplastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, over 1,100 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

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European Commission steps forward to cut on single-use plastics – but it’s just the beginning

This press release is produced by the Rethink Plastic Alliance, the European Policy and was originally posted on the Zero Waste Europe website. You can access the original press release here. The European Commission has taken a leap forward in tackling plastic pollution, with new laws to reduce throwaway single-use plastics. Speaking on behalf of Rethink Plastic [1], the Environmental Investigation Agency’s Sarah Baulch said: “The Commission has awakened to the call of European citizens to address the devastating impacts of plastic pollution on our environment. Phasing out unnecessary single-use plastic applications and those for which a sustainable alternative is already available is key to ensure a responsible use of plastics.” The proposal, which is designed to prevent and reduce the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, and in particular the marine environment, sets a number of different policy measures to tackle these problematic single-use products, from bans and reduction efforts, to labelling and extended producer responsibility schemes [2]. However, the legislation fails to set specific EU-wide reduction targets for food containers and beverage cups, with a promise to look into this possibility only after a lengthy six years after transposition (circa 2027). This could result in countries claiming they are taking the necessary steps as long as any reduction is achieved, regardless of how small. The same time period is also given for a review of the list of products the legislation addresses, with the possibility to expand it. This is vital to shorten to three years after transposition rather than six. Baulch said: “Given the urgency and scale of the problem, the lack of specific reduction targets for Member States is alarming. We call on the European Parliament and EU Ministers to put in place such targets and set a shorter review period to ensure an effective and swift move beyond single-use plastics.” The European Parliament and the Council of EU ministers will discuss and amend the legislative proposal in the coming months.

ENDS

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Press Contacts: Roberta Arbinolo, Communications Officer, Rethink Plastic alliance / Zero Waste Europe: roberta@rethinkplasticalliance.eu /+32 491 143197 NOTES: [1] Rethink Plastic is an alliance of leading European NGOs with one common aim: a future that is free from plastic pollution. We represent thousands of active groups, supporters and citizens in every EU Member State, and we bring together policy and technical expertise from a variety of relevant fields. Members of Rethink Plastic are: Client Earth, ECOS, EEB, the Environmental Investigation Agency, Friends of the Earth Europe, Seas at Risk, Surfrider Foundation Europe and Zero Waste Europe. We are part of the global Break Free From Plastic movement, consisting of over 1000 NGOs and millions of citizens worldwide. [2] The range of legislative measures includes:
  • A ban on single-use plastic straws, cutlery and plates, cotton buds and balloon sticks
  • A requirement to achieve ‘significant’ reductions in the consumption of plastic food containers and cups within 6 years, through measures such as national consumption reduction targets, minimum reusable packaging targets, or ensuring such items are not provided free of charge
  • A 2025 target of 90% separate collection of plastic bottles, to be achieved through Extended Producer Responsibility schemes or the implementation of deposit return schemes
  • Detailed labelling on sanitary towels, wet wipes and balloons informing citizens of the negative environmental impact of inappropriate disposal
  • The introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility schemes for waste fishing gear, cigarette butts, beverage containers including lids and caps, food containers, lightweight plastic bags and wet wipes amongst others.

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Anything but Reduction: The American Chemistry Council’s Empty “Circular Economy” Promises

Wednesday, May 23, 2018–This month, the American Chemistry Council, representing the plastic producers most responsible for the plastic pollution crisis–Dow,  Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP, ExxonMobil Chemical Company, Procter & Gamble, Chemicals Division, among others– has pledged to recycle or “recover” 100% of plastic packaging by 2040. First and foremost, we cannot wait until 2040. The plastic pollution crisis is exploding at an alarming rate, and we need to take urgent measures now to significantly reduce plastic production, not just increase recycling. The ACC’s commitment seems next to impossible given the out-of-control expansion of petrochemical infrastructure in the United States, with 264 facilities planned for a plastic production increase of 40% in the next decade. To date, only 9% of all plastics ever made have been recycled, the rest continues to pollute our land and water. If the ACC has any chance of achieving these goals, plastic production must rapidly decrease, not the opposite. The use of the word “recovery” in the ACC’s pledge is code for incineration of plastic. The ACC has been pushing dangerous techno-fixes like pyrolysis or “plastic-to-fuel,” an expensive and inefficient process resulting in toxic ash and fossil fuel oil that releases greenhouse gas emissions when burned. Plastic pyrolysis and other forms of incineration cannot possibly absorb the existing and expanding production of plastic, yet it is frequently held up as a way to justify the production of more and more plastic garbage. “What’s wrong with ACC’s pledge is that it relies on recycling and incineration to justify continuing and increased plastic production. Incineration of any kind is a dangerous techno-fix that causes harmful emissions, and recycling can’t possibly absorb rapidly increasing plastic production,” says Monica Wilson, Policy and Research Coordinator U.S. Associate Director at GAIA. “The only meaningful thing the ACC members can do is to stop making so much plastic.” Contact: Claire Arkin, Campaign and Communications Associate, claire@no-burn.org, 510-883-9490 ext. 111
Written by Claire Arkin. Article originally appeared at https://www.asyousow.org/blog/2018/5/10/resin-industry-takes-first-tentative-step-to-deal-with-plastic-pollution.