Re-Exportation of Last Batch of 80 Containers of South Korean Garbage Re-Ignites Call to Ban All Waste Imports
Government to regulate environmentally harmful plastic packaging, tyres, e-waste
Massey University’s Political Ecology Research Centre is delighted by the Government’s decision to declare plastic packaging, tyres, electrical and electronic products (e-waste), agrichemicals and their containers, refrigerants, and farm plastics “priority products”. The Ministry for the Environment invited Dr Trisia Farrelly to speak at the launch at Remarkit in Porirua yesterday on behalf of the New Zealand Product Stewardship Council.
The declaration means that product stewardship schemes must now be developed for each of the declared priority products. Product stewardship puts greater responsibility on those who make and use products to reduce the waste and other environmental harm these products may cause throughout their full lifecycle.
This is a historic moment in our waste management legislation. Until now, not one product has been declared a priority product under the WMA since it was passed in 2008. This has meant that all product stewardship schemes have been voluntary until now. We know these have not been successful, as NZ has been recognised as one of the most wasteful countries in the world.
Mandatory product stewardship of these priority products will create a level playing field for producers and eliminate opportunities for ‘free riders’ as we have seen in the past.
One of the really exciting things about regulated product stewardship schemes is that, if well-designed, they can incentivise carbon neutral production, bio and eco benign products, alternative delivery systems which can eliminate the need for more materials or packaging altogether, and can dramatically reduce the variety of problematic materials flowing into and through our economy and entering our ecosystems. The schemes should also ensure products are reusable, repairable, and recyclable.
Well-designed schemes will make it a lot easier for us to meet our national targets and regional and international obligations (e.g. to reduce ozone depleting substances, carbon emissions, and persistent organic pollutants). They will also help us to produce clean, sorted and high value post-consumption materials which will attract currently dwindling international markets. Essentially, it could vastly improve our reputation as a country that reduces and takes care of its own trash rather than dumping it elsewhere.
Mandatory product stewardship means everyone benefits from making and using products, and ensures the true cost of a product is reflected in the purchase price. Until now these costs have been predominantly carried by ratepayers, local authorities, and the environment.
Making the declarations is just the first step. Now what is needed are ambitious schemes that focus at the top of the zero waste hierarchy (prevention, reduction, reuse, redesign, repair).
Future oriented, innovative, ambitious, and successful schemes will be co-designed and will include tangata whenua, local and central Government, industry, NGOs, recyclers and zero waste experts, and community and consumer representatives.
Regardless of the work ahead, the Massey University Political Ecology Research Centre is celebrating. Aotearoa is one step closer to a zero waste economy.
Current discussions on European Commission Guidelines could jeopardize EU single-use plastic bans!
[et_pb_section fb_built="1" _builder_version="3.0.47" custom_padding="0px|0px|0px|0px" da_is_popup="off" da_exit_intent="off" da_has_close="on" da_alt_close="off" da_dark_close="off" da_not_modal="on" da_is_singular="off" da_with_loader="off" da_has_shadow="on" da_disable_devices="off|off|off"][et_pb_row custom_padding="27px|0px|0px|0px" _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"][et_pb_column type="4_4" _builder_version="3.0.47" parallax="off" parallax_method="on"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"]UPDATE, September 2020 - WeMove, BFFP and RPa partnerned and launched a petition to call EU and national decision-makers to uphold the ambition of the SUP Directive and ensure that the guidelines do not open the door for exemptions! You can support the petition here and read below on more details of what is at risk. In 2019, the European Union (EU) adopted landmark legislation on single-use plastics, requiring EU countries to ban certain single-use plastics, reduce the consumption of others and put in place extended producer responsibility schemes. This was a major step in moving away from single-use plastics and reducing plastic pollution. The European Commission is now developing guidelines to support the implementation of the new rules by EU countries, notably by specifying in greater detail which single-use plastic products are covered by the Directive. While technical, these guidelines are very important, as they will partly determine how much change the Directive will yield. However, the current discussions, underway in Brussels, are not going well. The current draft of the European Commission guidelines on single-use products, (that has been leaked to the press), allows for dangerous exemptions, which would undermine the very objective of the Directive. Firstly, the current draft of the guidelines defines plastic in such a way that certain single-use plastic products, made of materials such as viscose and cellophane would no longer fall under the Directive. Certain types of wipes and menstrual products would be excluded, even though they have similar impacts on the environment as other types of wipes and menstrual products that are covered by the legislation. Single-use plastic straws made of cellophane would still be allowed on the market, even though the Directive clearly bans single-use plastic straws. With the current wording in the draft, the ban would be rendered completely ineffective. Secondly, the draft guidelines use “single-serve vs multi-serve” criteria in order to exclude certain types of packaging and food containers. For example, this distinction would lead to the exclusion of all crisp packets that are not considered to be “single-portion” or “single-serve.” However, most of the crisp formats currently sold on the shelves are not considered “single-serve,” which would therefore lead to the exclusion of most crisp packets from being covered by the legislation. Using the “multiserve” criteria to exclude certain single-use plastic products opens the door to wide exemptions, with companies simply changing the labelling of their product to 2 portions or 2 servings in order to bypass the Directive. The current draft of the guidelines would completely undermine the Directive and risk making some of the new rules completely useless. The European Commission and EU countries need to change the course of these discussions in order to uphold the ambitious objectives of the Directive and answer the public’s demand to move away from single-use plastics and end plastic pollution. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
Green Groups Denounce Moves in Philippine Congress to Legalize Waste Incineration by Promoting Them as Waste to Energy (WTE) Plants
Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash Quezon City, Philippines (July 21, 2020) —Groups from the No Burn Pilipinas and Break Free From Philippines movement today denounced current moves in Congress to legalize garbage incineration banned under the Clean Air Act, by referring to them as waste-to-energy (WTE) plants while urging both the Senate and the House of Representatives to reject the proposed waste-to-energy bills, which will have the effect of weakening instead of improving existing environmental laws. In an online media briefing, attended by representatives from environmental groups, experts, and journalists, the panelists spoke about the existing and proven solutions in dealing with waste at the local level, and which do not require resorting to burning or incineration. They also debunked the need to incinerate infectious medical wastes produced in response to the current Covid-19 pandemic, saying that alternative treatment and non-burn sterilization technologies are available, and do not result in additional harm to communities. “As incineration and other thermal waste-to-energy bills for municipal and plastic waste are now being considered in the Senate and the House of Representatives, we see that these plans offer more problems than solutions and run against the Constitutional rights of citizens to live in a balanced and healthy environment,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairperson of Mother Earth Foundation. “Allowing incineration in the country would undermine and reverse the country’s achievements in implementing its landmark environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,” she said. “Instead of burning away billions of pesos in public funds to support waste-to-energy facilities, we urge the government to invest in efforts by our communities and local governments to implement zero waste programs as already provided for in the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act . Cities and barangays doing/having zero waste have managed to divert municipal waste by as much as 80% and saved millions of pesos while creating jobs,’’ she added. The subject bills mentioned were deliberated in a series of meetings by the Senate Committee on Energy Technical Working Group (TWG). These bills sponsored by Senators Win Gatchalian and Francis Tolentino, now intend to create a regulatory framework for waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies in the 18th Congress, in line with the Duterte administration's thrust to advance renewable energy in the country. “These thermal Waste-To-Energy facilities are essentially incinerators in disguise, and could never be considered as an environmentally sustainable form of waste management or as a renewable energy option, If these bills are approved, the real winners would be the plastics industry and big waste management companies, who will profit at the expense of taxpayers, local communities and the environment. Instead of reducing and eliminating their use of problematic plastics, producers and purveyors of single-use plastics and disposable packaging would find justification to continue with their polluting business as usual practices,”said Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of Break Free from Plastic (BFFP). “Moreover, burning unrecyclable plastics in these plants would create a toxic pollution nightmare for local communities, and make them more susceptible and vulnerable to the impacts of COVID 19,” he added. The panelists also discussed efforts of some local government units in permitting incineration and use of crematoria to deal with Covid-19 related wastes and the need to address a large part of the country’s rising pandemic-related plastic waste including single-use and production of masks, PPEs, IV bags and gloves. “Unlike bacteria, fungi, and other types of viruses, SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus is among the easiest microorganisms to destroy using readily available materials such as diluted bleach, alcohol, hot water, and regular soap and water. Treatment methods already used by hospitals such as chemical disinfection and autoclaving are more than sufficient to destroy COVID-19 virus,” said Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, a healthcare waste management expert who co-authored the World Health Organization’s guidebook on healthcare waste. He also led a United Nations Development Program team sent to Africa to help stop the spread of Ebola virus by advising governments, training healthcare staff on infection control, and installing waste treatment autoclaves. He is now with Silliman University. “Incineration will make things worse because incinerating COVID-19 related wastes will produce poisonous and toxic fumes especially since most of the materials are made of plastics. Some of the incinerator pollutants are also known to increase the death rate from COVID-19,” he said. “Our government must not use this pandemic as an excuse to introduce polluting disposal methods like burning and incineration, instead we encourage them to adhere to safe and environmentally sound treatment methods to safeguard our communities against the virus,” he added. For more info regarding WTE Bills and related materials, please visit: https://tinyurl.com/yyrxgqdt
In Global Solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter
#BreakFreeFromPlastic Members around the world will continue to speak out for Justice in deep solidarity with all the leaders and organizations who are helping advance the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. Social Justice. Racial Justice. Environmental Justice. We believe these are all part of a single, globally-connected Movement for Justice. We are committed to utilizing our platforms responsibly and proactively, centering the voices of our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community members at all levels of our leadership, and continuing to fight racism and systemic oppression around the world. As a global movement rooted in the pursuit of justice and systems change, we recognize the importance of lifting up our voices together to proclaim solidarity with those who continue to face systemic racism, oppression, and violence. In recognition of how this struggle has manifested for Black community members in the United States, and how that struggle is deeply interconnected with the challenges facing historically-marginalized communities in so many countries, we offer these statements of solidarity from diverse members in the Break Free From Plastic Movement in the US and around the world. “We need to recognise white privilege and dismantle the deep-rooted systemic racism that shows through in employment, housing, media, politics, policing, healthcare and the impacts of climate change. Greenpeace already works to support under-represented groups, including by funding positions for people of colour on the Campaign Bootcamp training programme, running our own activist trainings and offering our warehouse space and equipment to activist groups – and of course we must do more. If you are an anti-racist/ BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) led group or collective and would like to explore how Greenpeace could support or work alongside you, please email me.” -- Meena Rajput, Greenpeace, United Kingdom “It is long past time to dismantle the systems that murder, incarcerate, pollute, impoverish, and otherwise harm the bodies and psyches of Black, POC, and indigenous people. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade, and countless Black people have ignited a global movement to end centuries of violence on Black communities. We stand in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives, humbly follow Black leadership who have been fighting this fight for generations, and call on the environmental movement to join us - in this moment and for the long battle ahead.” -- Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, United States “As we in the Philippines and other parts of Asia Pacific struggle against the abuse of power, the neglect and often inhumane treatment of our marginalized communities, and the shrinking civic spaces, we stand alongside the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Our histories and experiences may differ, but our pursuit of justice, equality, and a better future are the same. We hear you, we support you, and we are in this fight against systemic oppression together with you for the long haul.” -- Skye Male, Break Free From Plastic, Philippines “Earthworks is committed to climate justice and environmental justice in order to improve the health, safety and well-being of all communities. Yet the cruel, inhumane treatment of Black and Brown people in the U.S. today makes it extremely difficult to imagine justice for communities of color. The murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis is the latest killing in an intolerable history of racist violence in the U.S. Earthworks is committed to challenging and dismantling the systemic oppression embedded into our society that allows these tragedies to continue. If we want to create communities that are truly safe, just, equitable, and free from environmental harm, then we must challenge racist violence against Black and Brown people. We stand in solidarity with the movement for Black Lives and demand justice and action in Minneapolis and around the country.” -- Earthworks, United States “The Aotearoa Plastic Pollution Alliance (APPA) has released a statement in support of #BlackLivesMatter which also ‘acknowledges that these same injustices and oppression exist around the world, including here in Aotearoa New Zealand. APPA acknowledges and stands against all forms of racism and injustice toward Māori and Pasifika peoples, including institutional racism and discriminatory police and penal system power in this country.’” -- Aotearoa Plastic Pollution Alliance, New Zealand “All of us in the UPSTREAM community stand with #BlackLivesMatter. We stand with all those who loved George Floyd and all the named and unnamed who have been taken. Because black lives are not disposable, and we want to co-create a world where this is true.” -- UPSTREAM, United States “We live in a profoundly unequal world that requires interconnected work and intentional solidarity to balance historical gaps, provide opportunities to vulnerable groups and build a common vision of the future that can benefit many. Based on that, Nipe Fagio in Tanzania allies social justice to environmental responsibility when implementing community work, so that the planet is taken care of together with its people.” -- Ana Le Rocha, Nipe Fagio, Tanzania We know that pollution is not simply the result of “broken systems”, but the result of unjust systems that enable discrimination and protect the violation of human rights. Make no mistake, environmental injustices and social injustices are inextricably connected. As Algalita works to empower young people to think critically and act as agents for long-lasting change, we will continue to teach how fighting structural racism is – and must be – integral to the mission of any environmental movement. -- Algalita, United States “From Slavery, Colonialism, Apartheid to civil rights, environmental justice - we will not be forced back to injustice. #blacklivesmatter” -- Bobby Peek, GroundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa “FracTracker Alliance stands in solidarity with Black communities around the nation who have faced police violence, racism, and inequality. We are firmly committed to the pursuit of environmental justice, and believe that building a more equitable and sustainable future requires addressing systemic injustice in its many forms. We pledge to respond to the leadership of communities on the frontlines of dangerous oil and gas activities, elevate environmental justice perspectives, and defend human rights. #BlackLivesMatter” -- FracTracker Alliance, United States “In the Philippines and other parts of the Asia Pacific region, we have been experiencing abuse of power by authorities enabled by authoritarian populist governments. There is a seemingly shrinking civic space to show dissent and a crackdown on our right to exercise our civil and political rights. Thus, we are in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter movement for justice, systemic change, and emancipation!” -- Jed Alegado, Break Free From Plastic, Philippines “The National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) recognizes the historic, systemic, and institutional racism that has contributed to violence and injustices against people of color. NCEL condemns police violence and systemic racism, and stands in solidarity with the black community and people of color everywhere. Communities of color disproportionately face more dangerous outcomes from environmental threats and injustices. Ensuring a healthy environment means fighting for the truth that Black Lives Matter. NCEL is committed to ensuring environmental and social justice in our efforts. Our vision of a ‘healthy environment for all’ can and must include a world free of systemic racism.” -- National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, United States “As an environmental organisation made up of predominantly white women, our team at City to Sea know we’ve got a LOT of work to do. We know marching and retweeting Black Lives Matter content isn’t enough. We want to respond meaningfully to issues that have too often been ignored, but are now being brought into the foreground. These issues include unequal employment, education, one-sided versions of history, police brutality and discrimination and other forms of systemic racism which affect countless millions daily, 365 days a year. We feel it is our duty to listen, learn and make genuine change. Racial justice and environmental justice are so intertwined it’s impossible to separate them. We’re sharing a message of solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement and letting our supporters who have been frustrated by a lack of representation and equality in our movement, know that we see you, we hear you, we’re standing with you and actively learning and changing. We’re now committed to stepping up and embedding anti-racism work into our organisation and campaigns. Find out more about our commitments here.” -- City to Sea, United Kingdom “The Story of Stuff Project stands with those marching for police accountability and an end to systemic racism because we know we cannot talk about plastic pollution, access to affordable, clean water, the rights of workers or any of the other issues we care about -- let alone fix them -- without boldly confronting the disproportionate impact these injustices have on black, brown, and indigenous communities in America.” -- The Story of Stuff Project, United States “Through our advocacy for ambitious waste prevention measures and a massive reduction in the use of virgin plastic, VOICE stands not just for environmental protection here in Ireland but for environmental & social justice worldwide through our involvement with Break Free From Plastic. We support fully the #BlackLivesMatter movement to fight racism around the globe.” -- Tad Kirakowski, VOICE, Ireland
#BreakFreeFromPlastic midway assessment of EU countries transposition of single-use plastics Directive
[et_pb_section bb_built="1" _builder_version="3.0.47" custom_padding="0px|0px|0px|0px"][et_pb_row _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat" custom_padding="27px|0px|0px|0px"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.98" background_layout="light"] As part of Plastic Free July, members of the Break Free From Plastic movement and of Seas At Risk have taken stock of the progress made by EU Member States on the transposition of the EU Directive on single-use plastics, midway through the transposition period. Adopted in 2019 by the European Union, the Directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, more commonly known as the single-use plastics (SUP) Directive, requires EU Member States to adopt a number of measures to reduce the use of, and pollution from, single-use plastics most commonly found in the environment. EU countries have 2 years, (until July 2021), to transpose the EU Directive into their national law and adopt measures to ensure successful implementation of the Directive. The Directive notably sets EU wide bans on certain SUP (e.g. plates and cutlery, straws and stirrers, cotton buds, cups and food containers in expanded polystyrene) and also requires EU countries to:
#BreakFreeFromPlastic urges EU countries to take rapid action to effectively transpose the single-use plastics Directive
PRESS RELEASE Brussels, 16 July 2020 An assessment from the #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement, released today, reveals that very few EU countries are on track for timely and ambitious transposition of the EU Directive on single-use plastics. Countries in the EU must take rapid and comprehensive action to end pollution from single-use plastics. The single-use plastics (SUP) Directive, adopted in 2019, requires EU Member States to adopt a number of measures to reduce the use of, and pollution from, single-use plastics most commonly found in the environment. Measures include bans on certain SUPs, a reduction in consumption, extended producer responsibility schemes, labeling requirements, and a 90% separate collection target for plastic bottles. EU countries have until July 2021 to transpose the EU Directive into their national laws and adopt the measures needed for successful implementation of the Directive. Members of the Break Free From Plastic movement have taken stock of the progress made across Europe, midway through the transposition period. This assessment of the current situation in 19 countries shows that only a few countries have already adopted measures to transpose the Directive or are about to do so. In most countries, the transposition process has been delayed or has only just started. France currently appears to be the furthest advanced on the transposition of the SUP Directive thanks to the adoption of a law in February 2020 that actually goes further than the EU Directive; it now must be implemented in order for it to have concrete positive effects. Other countries, such as Austria, Denmark, and Portugal have also taken steps and made progress in the transposition of the Directive, yet key legal measures still have to be finalised and the ambition needs to be confirmed. Unfortunately, many countries are still lagging behind, including Slovenia where processes have been significantly delayed, as well as Bulgaria and Croatia where discussions have not even begun. Delphine Lévi Alvarès, coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic Europe and the Rethink Plastic alliance commented: “Despite numerous public announcements on the need to fight plastic pollution, many European countries have not yet walked the talk. It is high time governments stop dithering and promptly adopt far-reaching measures that incentivise products, packaging and business models based on waste prevention and reuse, allowing a move away from single-use plastics once and for all. The Break Free From Plastic movement will continue to monitor and engage on the transposition and implementation of the SUP Directive and call out countries lagging behind”. While the COVID-19 pandemic may have caused slowdown in the transposition of the SUP Directive, as in other files, it cannot be a reason for further delay. Solving the plastic crisis cannot wait any longer, and the ambitious implementation of the SUP Directive across Europe can largely contribute to ending pollution from single-use plastics for good. Links See the detailed Member State assessment and grading here. See Seas At Risk’s assessment for more details on some countries (France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain). Directive on the impacts of certain plastic products on the environment available here. French law on Circular Economy available here. Press contacts Estelle Eonnet, Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic Europe +33 6 13136527, email@example.com Delphine Lévi Alvarès, Coordinator, Break Free From Plastic Europe and Rethink Plastic alliance +32 (4) 78 71 26 33, firstname.lastname@example.org #BreakFreeFromPlastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, nearly 2,950 organizations 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. In Europe alone, 96 core organizations are active in more than 30 countries. 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. Sign up at www.breakfreefromplastic.org Rethink Plastic, part of the Break Free From Plastic movement, is an alliance of leading European NGOs including: Center for International Law (CIEL), Client Earth, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), European Environmental Bureau (EEB), European Environmental Citizen’s Organisation for Standardisation (ECOS), Greenpeace EU, Seas At Risk, Surfrider Foundation Europe, and Zero Waste Europe. Together they represent thousands of active groups, supporters and citizens in every EU Member State working towards a future free from plastic pollution.
Did Filipino “Tingi” Culture Pave the Way for Plastic Sachets in the Philippines?
Photo by Glen via WikiMedia In his essay, “A Heritage of Smallness,” National Artist for Literature, Nick Joaquin, wrote: “Enterprise for the Filipino is small stall: the sari-sari… Commerce for the Filipino is the smallest degree of retail: the tingi. What most astonishes foreigners in the Philippines is that this is a country, perhaps the only one in the world, where people buy and sell one stick of cigarette, half a head of garlic, a dab of pomade, parts of the content of a can or bottle, one single egg, one single banana.” Indeed, we have a tingi culture, and it is being blamed for the proliferation of sachets in the country. Having understood this culture so well, big business gave us the sachets, promoting them as “pro-poor.” They peddled the narrative that by making their products available in small packets, people who would otherwise be unable to afford them can now enjoy them. And because it’s been part of our culture to buy small, these sachets were welcomed without much thought. If we think about it, buying things in sachets is also buying in tingi, only made more convenient. I remember that when I was a young kid, whenever I was sent to the sari-sari store to buy something in tingi, say ¼ of a bottle of vinegar, my mother would make me bring a container with me. The tindera (store owner/manager) would pour the vinegar into the container. Today, people still buy about the same quantity of vinegar. But unlike before, they no longer bring a container with them because the same quantity of vinegar (perhaps even smaller) now comes in sachets and they are not only available in sari-sari stores but also in big groceries. If I didn’t fully understand the problem with sachets, I would have called it “parehong sistema, pinasosyal lang” (the same system, just made hipper). But because I know a bit better, I say, “the same system, just made dirty.”
Yes, dirty because sachets, particularly plastic sachets, are made of fuel. Just think of the chemicals they contain, and how many of those chemicals might be harmful to you. But more importantly, dirty because these sachets are designed for the landfill. They don’t have recycling value—once we’re done with them, we toss them into the garbage bin and give them to the waste collector, who would then bring them to a landfill to sit for decades, producing leachate that are harmful to the environment. That is, if they don’t get released into the environment or washed out to the sea, where they harm marine lives. But I digress. Because it is part of our culture to buy small, big business would make us believe that giving us the sachets was simply a response to an important need. But the thing is, we never asked for sachets! The system of bringing our containers to the sari-sari store was working well! Until of course, big business introduced another narrative: Convenience is king! I also remember from my childhood that bringing reusable containers was not confined when going to the sari-sari store. Whenever my mom and I went to the public market, we always brought with us a basket which we used to carry the goods we purchased. Plastic already existed at the time, but they were not free. If you wanted a plastic bag, you’d have to buy them. Just a few decades ago, this practice of bringing reusable containers to the public market was the norm. Sadly, that practice was lost over time. Now, even in the province, I no longer see people bringing containers when they go to the market, much less to the grocery. Not even to the sari-sari store. Because now, plastic bags are everywhere and are free. It is only of late, due to years of pressure from environmental activists, that single-use bags are slowly being banned in various parts of the world. As governments are banning single-use plastic bags with the gradual mainstreaming of Zero Waste, stores hailed as Zero Waste are now sprouting. But if you’d really look at it, many of the Zero Waste establishments are actually just stores that mimic our old way of shopping—stores that don’t use problematic packaging and require their customers to bring their own containers. These stores are showing the big business how to do it—how they should have done it. Let’s stop buying big business’ pro-poor narrative. It is not that we are poor and that we buy tingi style that plastic sachets came to be; it is that companies were focused solely on profit. Instead of developing a sustainable system that would support our tingi culture, they capitalized on it wantonly and without regard to the damage their packaging would cause to the environment and to our health. It is their greed, not their supposed concern for the poor, that made them package their products in problematic materials.
Today, people still buy about the same quantity of vinegar. But unlike before, they no longer bring a container with them because the same quantity of vinegar (perhaps even smaller) now comes in sachets...
Buying tingi is not the problem. In fact, as many practitioners of Zero Waste now say, by buying only the things we can consume, we prevent wastage. As an adult, I no longer buy ¼ bottle of vinegar (I now buy by the bottle), but I also don’t buy perishables in bulk or very large bags. The idea is that we buy only the amount that makes sense, and that is, what we can actually consume—not too much so that we don’t waste them, and not too little for our actual need so that we don’t buy things in sachet. I wish Zero Waste stores would become the norm in the country. Or shall I say, I wish our culture of bringing our own container would make a full comeback, because actually, we used to do things the Zero Waste way). I hope more and more people will pick up that old practice. Because indeed, sometimes, the way forward is going back to our old ways of doing. Sherma Benosa is the Knowledge Management Officer of GAIA Asia Pacific. She may be reached at email@example.com.
Let’s stop buying big business’ pro-poor narrative. It is not that we are poor and that we buy tingi style that plastic sachets came to be; it is that companies were focused solely on profit.