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Over 1 million people demand corporations reduce single-use plastics ahead of Earth Day

Washington, DC – More than one million people ahead of this year’s Earth Day (April 22) are demanding that the world’s largest corporations reduce their production of single-use plastic. Around the globe, over one million individuals have signed petitions, taken to stores and restaurants, and posted photos of ridiculous packaging on social media to call out corporations like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestlé, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, and Starbucks for their massive single-use plastic footprints. Greenpeace, as part of the #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement, is urging individuals worldwide to contribute to an additional “Million Acts of Blue”: escalating actions that push local businesses, corporations, restaurants, and retailers to reduce their reliance on single-use plastics. Ahead of Earth Day, artists have also created massive works of beach art throughout Europe calling attention to the issue of ocean plastic pollution. “We are reaching a tipping point on single-use plastics, and it is time for any corporation that cares about a healthy planet to go beyond recycling alone. Throwaway plastics continue to pour into our oceans, our waterways, and our communities at an alarming rate,” said Graham Forbes, a Plastics Campaigner at Greenpeace USA. “This Earth Day, it is time to confront the reality that we cannot simply recycle our way out of this mess. We must address the corporate addiction to single-use plastics and move in a better direction.” Greenpeace and activists around the world have taken action throughout the month of April to reject the single-use plastics that corporations sell consumers. Activities included:

  • In the U.S., Greenpeace activists deployed two signs near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco that read “Break Free From Plastic” and “Stop Corporate Plastic Pollution,” featuring logos of seven companies with massive plastic footprints. Greenpeace USA is also bringing its hot air balloon with a Break Free From Plastic message to world’s largest environmental festival in Texas.
  • In Russia, activists installed three billboards outside of a supermarket location for the country’s largest retailer, X5 Retail Group, calling on the company to act on single-use plastic bags.
  • In the Philippines, Greenpeace partnered with a local artist collective to stage the ECOlta Fair and Plastic-Free party, which engaged individuals who aim to live free from plastic or reduce their waste.
  • In South Africa, Senegal, Cameroon, and Kenya, Greenpeace Africa is working with volunteers to conduct beach and town cleanups and brand audits to identify the companies responsible for plastic pollution.
  • In Spain, as part of a movement called #DesnudalaFruta, local groups are visiting retailers to demand solutions and educate consumers on the amount of plastic packaging with their products.
  • In Mexico, a group of activists collected and photographed packaging from seven of the world’s largest companies. In Veracruz, plastic artist Francisco Javier Calvillo made a sand sculpture of a giant turtle with a message for corporations.
“The solution is to turn off the plastics tap and decisively end the non-essential, single-use applications of the material. Increasing public revulsion over single-use plastics should be seen by policy makers and regulators as a sign that citizens want better protection from their leaders against the continuing onslaughts of an industry committed to pursuing bigger profit margins at the expense of a planet already drowning in plastic,” said Von Hernandez, the Global Coordinator for Break Free From Plastic. Earth Day has become an opportunity for many corporations to greenwash around recycling efforts and continue churning out throwaway plastic. This Earth Day, Greenpeace is looking to shift the narrative around single-use plastics from one of individual responsibility toward corporations reducing their production of throwaway plastic packaging. ### Notes:study revealed that 91 percent of the world’s plastics have not been recycled. The equivalent of one truckload of plastic enters our oceans every minute. Plastic pollution can choke or entangle marine life, including seabirds, turtles, and whales. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that ocean plastics are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of sea creatures each year. The international #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement is comprised of more than 1,100 groups, including Greenpeace, pushing for corporations to reduce and eventually phase out single-use plastic production. Greenpeace released a toolkit today to help individuals demand action on plastic pollution, available here: www.greenpeace.org/MillionActsOfBlue Photo and video: For photos of actions against single-use plastics around the globe, click here. For photos of EEB’s beach art throughout Europe, click here. For a wide photo and video collection of ocean plastic pollution, click here. For the Million Acts of Blue video Greenpeace released today, click here. Contacts: Perry Wheeler, Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist, +1 301 675 8766, perry.wheeler@greenpeace.org Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 20 718 2470, pressdesk.int@greenpeace.org (available 24 hours) Written by Perry Wheeler. Blog originally appeared at Greenpeace.

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Berkeley Legislation Aims to Curb Use of Disposable Foodware

[Berkeley, CA] The Berkeley City Council will soon consider the Disposable Foodware and Litter Reduction Ordinance, the most ambitious and comprehensive piece of municipal legislation in the US aimed at reducing single-use disposable foodware.
The "Disposable-Free Dining" ordinance will get its first hearing at the April 24 Berkeley City Council Meeting. At 3pm that same day, Mayor Jesse Arreguin,  one of the authors of the legislation, will join business owners, residents, and local, state, and national nonprofits to hold a press conference at the Berkeley Recycling Yard, located at 1231 2nd Street.
"Single-use disposable foodware is a local and global problem, one with enormous financial and environmental costs," says Council Member Sophie Hahn, the ordinance's co-author. "As a city striving toward Zero Waste, we do a good job with composting and recycling, but it is not enough. We need to start reducing our waste as well."
Berkeley's proposed legislation builds on a wave of similar city ordinances, including in Santa CruzAlamedaDavis, SeattleFt. Myers Beach, and Malibu, that have been passed in response to troubling global levels of plastic pollution.
Berkeley's Ordinance goes further than all prior initiatives, requiring that: 1) only reusable foodware can be used for dine-in service, 2) all takeout foodware must be approved as recyclable or compostable in the City's collection programs, 3) food vendors charge customers $0.25 for every disposable beverage cup and $0.25 for every disposable food container provided, and 4) disposable compostable straws, stirrers, cup spill plugs, napkins, and utensils for take-out are provided only upon request by the customer or at a self-serve station.
According to a Clean Water Action study, food and beverage packaging comprise the majority of all Bay Area street litter. Bay Area cities are struggling to meet the Regional Water Board's zero litter to storm drains requirement by 2022. Like other cities, Berkeley bears the cost of litter abatement - including the costly collection of debris from storm drains - as do the business districts. Last year alone, the Telegraph Avenue Business Improvement District's street ambassadors picked up over 22 tons of litter.
"Our throw-away culture is leading to a proliferation of plastics in our food, air, and drinking water, which threatens human health and all ocean life. The solutions must focus on reducing the use of disposable food packaging that is the biggest contributor to the problem," says Upstream's Policy Director Miriam Gordon. "Globally, we've seen that charging consumers for plastic bags is the most effective way to shift people from disposables to reusables. The Disposable-Free Dining Ordinance builds on that strategy."
"Businesses that make these changes are often surprised at the cost savings and customer satisfaction when they move away from disposables," says Samantha Sommer, who manages Clean Water Action's Rethink DisposableProgram. Clean Water Action's survey of Berkeley food establishments revealed strong support for reducing disposable food packaging waste to address environmental impact. Though 74% of survey respondents used all disposables or a combination of disposable and reusable foodware in their operations, the majority of businesses would support legislation to charge for disposable cups (58%) and foodware containers (67%) if all businesses are required to charge the same amount.
Since January, China has ceased to accept US recycling contaminated with dirty, disposable foodware, creating a crisis in the recycling industry. "Most of the single-use plastic foodware has no value in today's recycling markets. With China's new ban on importing plastic scrap, cities are actually paying to get rid of it," says Martin Bourque, Executive Director of the Ecology Center, the nonprofit that has collected Berkeley's recycling since 1973. "Much of the low-grade plastic that now gets shipped to South East Asia may end up dumped or burned, despoiling their environment and poisoning workers. We cannot recycle or compost our way out of the disposable foodware problem. We have to focus on reduction."
Globally, single-use disposable foodware is contributing to plastic pollution in the world's oceansdrinking water, and food. 80% of plastic found in the ocean come from land-based sources. Shoreline Cleanup volunteers collected 5,826 food wrappers; 2,156 straws and stirrers; 1,577 forks, knives, and spoons; and 3,269 foam packaging items from Berkeley, Albany, and Emeryville shorelines in 2016.
Single-use compostable foodware made from paper or fiber presents other environmental dilemmas. The thin, plastic coating added to make some compostable foodware impermeable contaminates composting operations. Other compostable foodware uses fluorinated chemical (PFASs) to create a grease and water barrier. PFAS are highly persistent synthetic chemicals,some of which have been associated with cancer, developmental toxicity, immunotoxicity, and other health effects. PFASs in food packaging can leach into food and increase dietary exposure, and also persist in compost after the container decomposes.
Berkeley's Disposable-Free Dining ordinance builds on a long history of Berkeley initiatives aimed at phasing out products with high environmental costs, such as single-use plastic bags and polystyrene. The City of Berkeley is currently diverting approximately 75% of its discards and striving toward its goal of reaching Zero Waste by 2020.
The ordinance is supported by a coalition of over 1000 local, national, and international organizations participating in the Break Free from Plastic(BFFP) global movement, including the Ecology CenterClean Water ActionUpStreamThe Story of Stuff ProjectGlobal Alliance for Incinerator AlternativesPlastic Pollution Coalition, and Surfrider Foundation. BFFP Global Coordinator Von Hernandez, says, "The gravity of the global plastic pollution crisis should compel policy and decision makers to enact measures to reduce plastic waste, especially for disposable applications where viable and non-polluting alternatives exist. In this light, zero waste practitioners worldwide applaud and support this initiative from Berkeley and look forward to its adoption and implementation."
#      #      #
Founded in 1969, the Ecology Center's mission is to inspire and build a sustainable, healthy, and just future for the East Bay, California, and beyond.

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New Investments in Plastic Deserve Greater Scrutiny

Industry is currently investing billions in capacity to expand plastic production. But as the world phases out fossil fuels and awareness of the dangers of plastics increases, it begs the question: Is plastic production a good long-term investment? Around the world, countries, cities, and individuals are ramping up efforts to phase out fossil fuels, but as they do so, the impacts of fossil fuel phase-out have gone largely unexamined for the plastics industry. Almost all plastics are formed from chemicals that begin as fossil fuels. As end products of the fossil fuel supply chain, plastics too will be profoundly disrupted by global efforts to reduce fossil fuel consumption and confront climate change. As the world grows more alarmed by the accelerating plastic pollution crisis and is taking steps to reduce — or eliminate — plastic pollution, the fossil fuel, petrochemical, and plastics companies are making huge investments in additional production capacity, especially in the United States. The shale gas boom has fueled a massive influx of investment in new and expanded plastic production capacity because it dramatically reduced the price of ethane, a by-product of natural gas production that is an important chemical for producing plastic. Investors in this plastics boom rely on two assumptions: first, that inexpensive supplies of ethane will remain readily available for the foreseeable future, and second, that demand for plastic products will continue to increase. Both of these assumptions reflect a belief that the business-as-usual scenario will continue into the future. However, they ignore the rapid pace of change in both global efforts to curb fossil fuel use and global attitudes towards plastic consumption. The predictable consequences of these changes — reduced production of fossil fuels and reduced demand for plastic products — affect the profitability (and viability) of these new proposed facilities. Even small changes in fossil fuel prices or supplies can have outsized impacts on plastic production. The changes that may occur in the fossil fuel industry, however, are far from small. Substantial evidence is accumulating that fossil fuel phase-out is already underway: The price of renewables is declining, the effectiveness of batteries and other storage options is improving, and nations, cities, corporations, and civil society organizations are making commitments to reduce emissions, produce low-carbon products, and shift their capital away from fossil fuels. These trends, among others, indicate that the transition away from fossil fuels is already happening, and those planning investment decisions over even moderate time horizons should take this transition into account. There is also growing awareness of the severity and urgency of the plastics crisis. Bans or taxes on plastic bags, microbeads, or buds (the stems of cotton swabs) are proliferating, including across nations in the Global South, where the plastics industry plans much of its future consumer growth. The United Kingdom and the European Union have both announced plans to eliminate all unnecessary single-use plastic waste over the next decades. On the international stage, the United Nations Environmental Assembly formed a working group to address marine plastic pollution, with the possibility of creating a binding, international treaty to tackle the problem on a global scale. These developments, among others, show the global community is taking the issue of plastic waste seriously, which challenges industry assumptions of unfettered growth in plastic consumption. Despite these social, political, and economic changes, the petrochemical industry has not changed course. These companies have promised shareholders and investors that these massive, expensive projects will yield high returns over the long term. They have promised local communities jobs and development. Yet the planned build-out of additional capacity may be not only unnecessary, but also financially imprudent. With these global changes underway, companies and investors should ask themselves: Does the plastics boom pose the same risks to assets that it poses to people and the planet? Originally posted by Steven Feit, Staff Attorney at CIEL. Originally appeared in http://www.ciel.org/new-investments-plastic-deserve-greater-scrutiny/

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Photo Essay: Playgrounds and Pollution

ExxonMobil's Baytown Complex, as seen from a playground directly across the street.  

Alison's Toxic Tour of Houston and its horrifying array of polluting facilities near homes and schools. Here's what that means for you.

 

Toxic Tour: Why Houston?

Last week in Houston, Texas I was fortunate enough go on an alarming but thoroughly enlightening “toxic tour” of the Houston Ship Channel, where about a quarter of U.S. petrochemicals are manufactured. The tour, led the local advocacy group Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.), gave me a very valuable understanding of the ubiquitously hazardous impacts the oil and gas, petrochemical and plastics industries have on the communities that surround their facilities. Currently, there is a growing global awareness around the problem with plastic. But many people don’t realize that the process of creating plastics is also inherently toxic, reliant on dirty fossil fuels and chemical manufacturing. The fracking boom and its result -- cheap natural gas -- have spawned a resurgence in plastics manufacturing and the pollution it creates. Specifically, the fracking boom has produced an oversupply of ethane, a hydrocarbon present in certain shale gas reserves. This has been a boon for the plastics industry, which relies on petrochemical manufacturing to turn ethane into plastic.

Transforming ethane into plastics pollutes the environment and imposes public health risks on industry workers and nearby communities. 

But transforming ethane into plastics pollutes the environment and imposes public health risks on industry workers and nearby communities. Plants that convert natural gas into petrochemicals are known to emit massive amounts of air and climate pollutants, including ozone-creating volatile organic compounds (such as benzene and toluene) and nitrogen oxide. [caption id="attachment_2292" align="alignnone" width="830"] ExxonMobil in Houston[/caption]

Seeing The Impact: Playgrounds and Polluting Plants

Our first stop on the tour was a community park, surrounded by homes, directly across the street from ExxonMobil's Baytown Complex. While only there for thirty minutes, some in my group had to cover their faces with their shirts or hands, unable to tolerate the stench coming from the facility. One group member had to flush her eyes in a bathroom sink because of the irritating emissions. On a later stop in the Manchester/Harrisburg neighborhood, I was shocked to see that Valero's refinery (which isone of sixteen chemical plants within a 3-mile radius of the community) -- with its colossal emissions plumes -- is literally in the backyard of homes, and less than two miles from schools. Just this year the first national study analyzing air pollution and schools found that exposure to toxic emissions not only affects children's health but can also negatively impact academic performance. The study also found that children of color are more likely to live near air pollution than white children.  

DONATE TO BAN FRACKING

 

The Fracking and Chemical Industries Want To Make Things Worse

The fracking-driven industry expansion will likely generate even more plastic and pollution as more ethane crackers come online. An ethane cracker is a type of petrochemical facility that uses a series of processes involving steam or heat to "crack" ethane into ethylene, the most frequently produced petrochemical, which common plastic is made from. To date, there are approximately 30 ethane crackers in the U.S., and all but three are located in Texas and Louisiana. More than 20 new crackers and ethylene production expansion projects have been proposed across the U.S. While most are slated for the Gulf region, five have been proposed in the tristate Appalachian region of West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where there is a huge push to create a new epicenter for chemical manufacturing.   [caption id="attachment_2294" align="aligncenter" width="830"] Petrochemical and plastics production facilities in Houston.[/caption]   To advance this plan, gas and chemical industries are investing in an Appalachian petrochemical complex in the Ohio River Valley, including regional ethane crackers, pipeline infrastructure, and a large underground storage facility. These industries and their supporters seemingly want to make Appalachia the next Houston, Texas. Both the shale gas and chemical industries in this area seem to view the expansion of infrastructure and pipelines, increased gas and natural gas liquids exports and the development of a larger, regional petrochemical sector as a panacea to their problems -- an overabundance of low-priced gas which can only become profitable through new markets (exports) or new products (plastics) to drive up demand.  

Dirty Industries Profit By Destroying Frontline Communities

All of this would spell doom for the frontline communities in Houston, Appalachia and elsewhere, where children and families bear the startling human cost of dirty industry profits. Rather than continually investing in fossil fuels and chemical industries, we must invest in clean, renewable energy. It's time to move off fossil fuels once and for all. This means moving away from plastic as well.  

TAKE ACTION

  Written by Alison Grass. Blog originally appeared at Food and Water Watch.

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New Report Warns of Hidden Economic Risks to Booming Plastics Investments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Washington, DC—A new report released today by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) raises new and significant questions about the economic rationale for the massive wave of new infrastructure investments in“ plastics and petrochemicals. Untested Assumptions and Unanswered Questions in the Plastics Boom highlights global changes that threaten to dramatically disrupt the plastic industry at both ends of its supply chain, fundamentally altering both the costs of plastics production and the demand for plastic products. As companies ramp up investments to create more plastic, they are banking on plastic infrastructure being profitable for decades to come. This assumes that demand for plastic will continue increasing and that plastics production will continue to be heavily subsidized by demand for the fossil fuels that supply chemicals critical to plastic production. However, the new report exposes changes in the economy, government regulations, and consumer attitudes worldwide that could make these investments much riskier than previously assumed. “The fossil fuel and plastic industries are both undergoing major disruptions but are continuing to operate under business-as-usual assumptions,” says Steven Feit, CIEL Attorney and lead author of the report. “Even as the phase-out of fossil fuels threatens to make plastics production more expensive, public pressure and government actions to limit plastic pollution are poised to reduce demand for disposable plastic in the years ahead. The industry will be increasingly squeezed from both sides: supply and demand. Investors (and communities) that don’t challenge these assumptions and demand clear answers about these projects are putting money — and livelihoods — at risk.” As fossil fuels provide the primary material for plastic production, the shale gas boom in the United States has fueled a massive influx of investment in new and expanded plastic production infrastructure. But to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement, governments around the world have agreed to phase out fossil fuels, which will make plastic production more expensive. At the same time, consumers are demanding an end to disposable plastics, governments are banning or taxing single-use plastic products, and the United Nations is undertaking an international campaign to reduce marine plastic pollution. These shifting attitudes — at every level — could mean decreased demand for plastic. “These changes raise serious questions about the industry’s mad dash to expand the fossil plastics industry when it is clear that both fossil fuel use and plastic use must rapidly decline,” says co-author and CIEL President Carroll Muffett. “We already know the planet can’t afford these new plants. The question is: Why do investors think they can?” Today’s report builds on CIEL’s Fueling Plastics research series that exposes the links between the fossil fuel and plastic industries, the massive wave of investments planned to expand plastic production infrastructure, and how long the plastics industry has known that their products pollute oceans. ### Contact: Amanda Kistler, Communications Director: akistler@ciel.org, 202.742.5832 Notes to editors:

Additional quotes: Monica Wilson, Policy and Research Coordinator at the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA):

“The plastic industry likes to tell a story about growing demand in Asia to justify the industry’s out of control plastic production. Far from demanding more plastic packaging, many Asian countries are instead demanding corporate accountability for the plastic pollution this industry creates, and developing innovative zero waste city solutions.”

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Beyond Single Use Plastics – Rethink Plastic talkshow

On March 27th, Rethink Plastic hosted its second  after-work talkshow in Brussels, in a museum-like environment taking us straight into a plastic-free future.
 
Rethink Plastic is an alliance of #breakfreefromplastic members working at the European policy level for a future free from plastic pollution. These organisations have come together to co-host a innovative talkshow event, featuring some of the cutting edge business leaders taking on single-use plastics as well as those working from the policy angle to create a Europe hospitable to solutions and hostile to plastic pollution. [caption id="attachment_1938" align="alignright" width="225"] The talk show featured a 'museum' of single use plastic items.[/caption]
 
Following the success of its November 6th edition on Plastic Exports, Rethink Plastic strikes again with a true concept night, this time looking at how the EU can legislate on single-use plastics and enter “a new business era” - as the event title suggests. In practice the discussion was a perfect occasion to address some of the key concerns decision-makers have been talking about over the last few months, namely the impact of legislation on European jobs and economics.
 
The program was designed to offer a new perspective and show that solutions exist and new economic models are already proving successful, taking us away from the corporate products monopolies - that are packaging intensive - back to more local and resilient economies based on services and short supply chains. The discussion was taking place in a venue staged as a fictive a museum of the future where - the story says - the products exhibited were used in the early 21st century when societies were using excessive amounts of single-use plastics.
 
The setup was indeed designed to make participants smile -and think! Taking a tour of the venue you could learn about "Legacy of the EU Commission 2014-2019", “The ten most littered items in 2017” or how those products of the past were successfully replaced by new designs and services that better fitted the “smart lifestyle”.
 
On the panels content side, the guest speakers were clearly here to offer a different worldview and build confidence. [caption id="attachment_1940" align="alignright" width="225"] Zero Waste Europe's Joan Marc Simon[/caption]
The Director of Zero Waste Europe, Joan Marc Simon presented this perspective "Who is against a model creating more jobs and economic activity by using less resources & generating less plastic waste? zero waste companies are a clear example showing that we can do more with less!"
Cecilia Rennesson Executive Director of  Reseau Vrac, and association of professionals working on bulk products put forward their vision that "We need to extend bulk to brands to make it work for the general public." going on to say "Reseau Vrac is working with producers and supermarkets to help bulk go mainstream".
Presenting a the technology behind bulk food shops Marek Havrda presented MIWA (#MInimumWAste)'s approach to the problem "To help consumers minimise single use plastic waste we need technical & #business model innovation to change the system of daily products #packaging and delivery"
 
This talkshow did not aim to provide the data and evidence for the legislation, but instead set-out to inspire the vision and confidence necessary to take decisive action towards a future free from plastic pollution, both in Europe and beyond.

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Zero waste key to achieving circular economy of cities, experts say

BANDUNG, Indonesia (March 19, 2018) — Going Zero Waste is the way to go for cities. This has been the conclusion of experts and practitioners in the recently held International Zero Waste Cities Conference in Bandung, Indonesia. With the theme, “Breaking A ‘Linear’ City: Adopting Zero Waste Towards a Circular Economy,” the event gathered experts, local government leaders, and practitioners from key cities in Asia to discuss, learn, and share experiences in implementing Zero Waste programs. During the opening plenary, Flore Berlingen of Zero Waste France highlighted the importance for local governments to invest in Zero Waste programs in order to achieve circular economy. “In Europe, it is the municipalities, not the nations, that are leading the way to Zero Waste. Several hundreds of communities and cities in the EU have committed to Zero Waste and so they are moving very fast,” she said. Zero Waste is a people-centered solution to the issue of waste. It is an approach to the use of our resources which ensures resource efficiency, resource recovery, and protection of scarce natural resources. Berlingen also argued that incineration or burning of waste is not part of the solution to cities’ waste problems. “Incineration does not solve the problem of waste. We believe that the solution is moving towards circular economy—making our resources last longer,” she added. Jack Macy of SF Environment, City of San Francisco, USA, echoed the need for local governments to invest in Zero Waste, citing examples from his city. “Why do we have to go Zero Waste? Linear system is unsustainable; we need to move past beyond that. San Francisco has made a policy about Zero Waste. We need Zero Waste to manage waste on the landfill, to remove incineration, to promote the best use of waste management, and to increase the responsibility of consumers and producers,” Macy said. Likewise, local government leaders from the Global South like the Philippines also shared their experiences in implementing Zero Waste policies. Benedict Jasper Lagman, a city council member of the the City of San Fernando in Pampanga, Philippines, shared the experiences of his city in achieving a plastic bag ban. The city has been hailed as a model city in implementing Zero Waste programs. “We did baby steps to apply the policy on plastic bag ban. We educated people on radio and TV. We started with Plastic-Free Friday. Since 2015, we have totally banned the use of plastic bags. By now, 85% of the citizen are obeying the rules. Now we are aiming for plastic straw ban,” Lagman shared. Currently, GAIA Asia Pacific member organizations BaliFokus Foundation, Citizen consumer and civic Action Group, EcoWaste Coalition Philippines, Consumers Association of Penang, Health Care Without Harm Asia, Mother Earth Foundation, Yayasan Pengembangan Biosains dan Bioteknologi (YPBB), Stree Mukti Sanghatana (SMS), War on Waste Negros Oriental (WoW Negros Oriental), and Thanal are implementing Zero Waste programs in key cities in the Philippines, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The Plastic Solutions Fund (PSF) is currently supporting this collaboration project - Building and Supporting Zero Waste Cities: Developing Asia Pacific Models for Leading with Solutions at the Frontlines of the Plastics Pollution Crisis - aimed at implementing Zero Waste practices in 16 cities; amplifying positive stories about Asian communities and activists involved in solutions-based organizing; and recognizing Zero Waste champions among partner city officials and waste workers. PSF is an international funders’ collaborative that aims to turn the tide on plastic pollution in our oceans, rivers, land, and air. The Fund promotes innovative collaboration among individuals and institutions, support results-oriented grant making, and provide a trusted platform for new philanthropic investment in order to prevent plastic pollution.

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Global campaign challenges Starbucks to keep its promise to curb plastic pollution, create 100% recyclable cup

PRESS RELEASE, Monday, March 5, 2018

Leading environmental organizations launch “Starbucks: Break Free From Plastic” campaign to confront coffee giant on its plastic pollution problem prior to annual shareholder meeting in Seattle

SEATTLE, WA — Today, more than a dozen leading environmental organizations announced the launch of “Starbucks: Break Free From Plastic” — a global campaign demanding that Starbucks take accountability for its contribution to the growing plastic pollution crisis. Sign the petition at:https://mobilize4change.org/starbucks.

The campaign formed ahead of Starbucks’ 2018 annual shareholder meeting, where the coffee giant is urging its shareholders to vote “no” on a sustainability proposal by As You Sow. The proposal asks Starbucks to address its plastic pollution problem by developing stronger efforts to move toward sustainable packaging. View As You Sow’s argument in favor of the proposal.

Starbucks fails on sustainability pledges

The campaign is being launched amidst a backdrop of corporate pledges to address plastic pollution, including from McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. The campaign is demanding firm commitments from Starbucks on how it will address its plastic pollution problem.

In 2008, Starbucks pledged to make a 100% recyclable paper cup and sell 25% of drinks in reusable cups by 2015. To date, Starbucks has failed to produce a 100% recyclable paper cup, and currently serves only 1.4% of drinks in reusable cups.

“Starbucks serves an astounding 4+ billion paper cups each year, most of which end up in the trash because their plastic lining makes them unrecyclable in most places. That’s a disgraceful amount of plastic pollution ending up in our local landfills. It’s time for Starbucks to start living up to its promises.” -Ross Hammond, Stand.earth

Starbucks plans massive global growth

Despite knowing its environmental impact, Starbucks has pledged to dramatically expand its presence in Asia in 2018 — with no plan to address its plastic waste. Because of this inaction, governments are being forced to step up. A parliamentary committee in the UK recently proposed a “latte levy” on single-use cups to help address the growing plastic pollution problem, and the City of Vancouver, BC is considering imposing a fee on unrecyclable, plastic-lined cups.

“Starbucks has pledged to open one store every 15 hours in China in 2018. CEO Kevin Johnson continues to turn a blind eye to his company’s contribution to our global plastic pollution problem even as the coffee giant continues to open stores at an astonishing pace.” -Sondhya Gupta, SumOfUs

Starbucks part of global plastic pollution problem

Starbucks cups, lids, and iconic green straws make up a visible portion of the catastrophic plastic pollution in our oceans. In the marine environment, plastics break down into small indigestible particles that birds and marine animals mistake for food, resulting in illness and death.

“Starbucks pioneered the global ‘to-go’ disposable coffee cup culture, and sends more than 4 billion plastic-lined cups to landfill every year — along with countless single-use plastic lids, straws, stirrers, and cutlery. We’re calling on Starbucks to make a commitment to reusability and stop contributing to our global plastic pollution catastrophe.” -Dianna Cohen, Plastic Pollution Coalition

“Americans use half a billion plastic straws every day. That’s an unfathomable amount. These plastic straws are consistently among the top items collected during beach cleanups. Starbucks’ green straws may be iconic, but this staggering amount of plastic pollution is simply unacceptable.”  -Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, 5 Gyres Institute

“Each minute, the equivalent of a garbage truck full of plastic ends up in the ocean, and by 2050, there is projected to be more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight. Starbucks needs to take immediate steps to #breakfreefromplastic before our global plastic pollution problem overwhelms our oceans and marine life.” -Von Hernandez, Break Free From Plastic

"Plastics are a symptom of our throw-away culture. Companies like Starbucks need to take responsibility for the harm to people and the environment that comes from irresponsible use of a material for minutes that is designed to last lifetimes. We need them to help build a culture of stewardship among consumers and businesses." -Jamie Rhodes, UPSTREAM

The campaign is calling on Starbucks to address its plastic pollution in 5 specific ways:

  • Create a 100% recyclable paper cup without a plastic lining.

  • Reduce plastic pollution by eliminating single-use plastics like straws.

  • Promote reusable cups and encourage customers to change their habits.

  • Recycle cups and food packaging in all stores worldwide.

  • Report publicly on the type and amount of plastics used in packaging.

The campaign includes 5 Gyres, Care2, Clean Water Action, CREDO, Greenpeace USA, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Stand.earth, The Story of Stuff Project, SumOfUs, Texas Campaign for the Environment, UPSTREAM, Hannah4Change, Captain Planet Foundation, Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation, Plastik Diet Kantong, Heirs to Our Oceans, Wild at Heart Taiwan, and a variety of organizations participating under the Break Free From Plastic global movement.

###

Media contacts:

Virginia Cleaveland, Stand.earth, virginia@stand.earth510-858-9902

Emily DiFrisco, Plastic Pollution Coalition, emily@plasticpollutioncoalition.org310-266-3172

Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, 5 Gyres Institute, rachel@5gyres.org310-968-7769

Shilpi Chhotray, Break Free From Plastic, shilpi@breakfreefromplastic.org703 400 9986