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A Toxics-Free Future


Highlights Front Roll

IPEN Resources for the Plastics Treaty INC-1
New Video: Plastics Poisoning Our Health
How the UNEA Plastics Resolutions Relates to Chemicals and Health
Plastic Poisons the Circular Economy
Plastics, Plastic Waste, and Chemicals in Africa
Plastics, EDCs & Health Report Links Chemical Additives and Health Effects

For Immediate Release

View the Report, Executive Summary, Video, and FAQ (available in Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish)

Gothenburg, Sweden As people and ecosystems around the world are increasingly exposed to multiple and interacting hazardous chemicals, experts from leading international law and global chemical safety organizations are releasing a groundbreaking report that offers a clear pathway to finance the control and regulate toxic chemicals and waste: a producer-pays tax on basic chemicals.

The chemical industry generates trillions of dollars in annual sales (projecting sales over USD 11 trillion in 2030), but it does not bear the significant health and environmental costs that derive from its activities. These costs, according to World Health Organization estimates, include 1.6 million annual premature deaths due to the global disease burden attributable to preventable chemical mismanagement and 45 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs).

The proposal by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) asserts that chemical producers must take greater financial responsibility for the safe management of their products, beginning with the production of feedstock chemicals that fuel the global chemicals sector and the rapidly growing petrochemical industry.

The plan proposes a small coordinated fee of 0.5% on the production value of basic chemicals that will fund the sound management of chemicals and waste. Basic chemicals are early-stage chemicals produced from petroleum, natural gas, and other raw materials. These chemicals represent the basic building blocks from which all other chemicals are made. In 2018, sales of basic chemicals totaled USD 2.3 trillion.

View the entire package, including the press release, reports, executive summary, FAQ, and videos.

Webinar series helps communities face wave of waste-to-energy proposals that hide toxic effects

Zero Waste Australia in concert with IPEN has created a webinar series aimed at steering communities back to an environmentally sound plastics waste strategy that doesn’t include waste-to-energy incineration projects, after the incineration industry seized upon a national declaration to end waste exports.

In 2019, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) declared that waste plastic, glass, paper and tyres would no longer be exported, stating that: "The COAG waste export ban is the first step in taking responsibility for our own waste and using this resource to create jobs, spark innovation, and deliver strong environmental outcomes."

The waste industry was quick to see an opportunity. Now, much of Australia's waste will be reprocessed into Process Engineered Fuel and Refuse Derived Fuel — both mixtures of waste that include discarded material, including plastics — for continued export overseas or as fuel for paper mills, cement plants, and waste-to-energy incinerators in Australia.

The twelfth meeting of the Basel Convention Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG12) is taking place in a planned two-session approach due to the Covid-19 crisis: an online segment on September 1st - 3d and if possible, a face-to-face meeting in March. Recorded briefings on the set-up from UNEP are available in the UN languages here.

The online session will not take any decisions or negotiate any text but instead will focus on presentations of progress of the intersessional process, such as the various technical guidelines followed by interventions. More information about the online segment and meeting documents is available here and here.

Read IPEN's Interventions

View online side events

IPEN was well represented at the first segment of the 12th Open Ended Working Group of the Basel Convention along with delegates from scores of countries across the globe. The meeting sought to confirm schedules for advancing reviews of key technical guidelines for addressing some of the most critical global pollution issues in the world today including the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes such as plastic, mercury, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The advancement of the technical guidance is to allow their presentation for adoption at COP 15 of the Basel Convention in July 2021.

 IPEN submitted a range of interventions calling for:

  • Lowering of the Low POPs content Levels in the General Guidelines on POPs waste management as levels are currently too high and are allowing the most toxic chemicals on the planet to be recycled into children's toys and to pollute the food chain in low income countries. 
  • Promotion of non-combustion technology for POPs destruction in the same guidelines instead of incineration. Burning POPs waste generates additional forms of POPs such as dioxins and maintains the toxic cycle. Non-combustion technology does not produce these byproducts and is the cleanest technology for POPs waste destruction.
  • Revising the D10 guidance on incineration to make transparent the vast CO2 emissions and dioxin contaminated ash problems with incineration which are contaminating global food chains instead of describing how to build and run a modern incinerator. 
  • Revising the D10  guidance on incineration to include pyrolysis and gasification which are widely known to be incineration technology promoted by the petrochemical industry as a solution to plastic waste pollution, but are completely absent from the guidance leaving parties in the dark about the impacts of these technologies.
  • Aligning the mercury waste guidance of the Basel Convention with the mercury waste guidance of the Minamata Convention to ensure consistency and reduce the ability of mercury waste to escape environmentally sound management.

In the second segment of the online meeting scheduled for the 3rd of September, IPEN will present further interventions on plastic waste which will be uploaded to this site and the Basel Convention website.

IPEN is engaged in the intersessional work for most of the technical working groups and will therefore have a special focus on the agenda items relating to the technical guidelines on:

  • POPs waste guidelines, including determining low POPs content limits
  • Incineration
  • Plastic waste
  • E-waste and the distinction between waste and non-waste
  • Mercury waste

Two other items that IPENers will keep an eye on are

  • Whether the technical guidelines for waste lead-acid batteries should be updated
  • Illegal traffic of waste

IPEN is also engaged in two side-events scheduled for Wednesday, September 2nd

  • E-wastes: Closing the Remaining Loopholes, hosted by the Basel Action Network (BAN)
  • Hidden Dangers in Plastic Waste: The Next Basel Challenge, hosted by a group of NGOs including BAN, GAIA and IPEN

See full side-event schedule and registration here.



More Governments Must Ratify the Treaty to Protect the Health of Children and the Environment

In a short video message on the third anniversary of the enactment of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, Minamata Disease survivors Ms Shinobu Sakamo and Mr Koichiro Matsunaga appeal to viewers to help encourage governments to ratify the treaty. Greater regulation of mercury use and trade are necessary to protect the health of people, and ensure not only that industries are held accountable, but that children are protected from the dangers of mercury poisoning now and in the future.

Impact will be felt in Asia Pacific region and the rest of the world

Shenzhen, China The People’s Republic of China, one of the largest and fastest growing paint producing countries in the world, has established new health protective standards for lead in paint. Because China is Asia’s largest paint producer and has nearly one-third of the global market for paints, the new regulations will have important health ramifications not only in China, but throughout Asia and the rest of the world. The new standards will take effect December 1, 2020.

Re-exportation of Illegal Trash Re-Ignites Call to Ban All Waste Imports

Quezon City, PhIlippines After sitting in Northern Mindanao for two years, the final batch of 80 container vans of contaminated plastic waste from South Korea are set to sail home this week amid the continuing COVID-19 outbreak.

Deceptively declared as “plastic synthetic flakes,” the contaminated plastic waste materials, which arrived in July and October 2018 at the ports in Villanueva and Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, were found by the authorities to contain unsorted plastic materials, used dextrose tubes, soiled diapers, discarded electronics and household garbage in violation of national laws and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.

Following successful bilateral negotiations led by the Bureau of Customs-Region 10, which the EcoWaste Coalition attended, a total of 251 container vans of illegal waste shipments were re-exported to South Korea this year on July 18 (53 containers), March 27 (47 containers), February 16 (50 containers) and January 19 (50 containers), and last year on January 19 (51 containers). The last 80 containers are scheduled for re-shipment on August 4 and 8 bringing the total number of returned containers loaded with garbage to 331.

“The completion of the complicated re-exportation procedures in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis that continues to disrupt and claim people’s lives is a big win in our people's pursuit of environmental justice and the rule of law during these most difficult times,” declared Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

The company has already done so in the USA and Canada and should not operate a double standard in Mexico

Mexico City IPEN environmental and health organizations, together with other civil society organizations, sent a letter yesterday to the Ministry of Health, the Federal Commission for the Protection of Sanitary Risks and the Federal Attorney's Office of the Consumer, requesting to end the sale of J&J baby powder and any other brands containing mineral talc, to avoid risks to the health of consumers by applying the Precautionary Principle.

Click the link above to read the letter and press release (Spanish).


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