Re-exportation of Illegal Trash Re-Ignites Call to Ban All Waste Imports
Monday, 03 August 2020
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.
(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).
Quezon City, Philippines/Gothenburg, Sweden - In the first public study of its kind, environmental health groups EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN uncovered spray paints with dangerous lead concentrations — some samples containing levels hundreds of times higher than global standards — on sale in the Philippines in violation of the country’s law banning lead in paints.
The report shows that nearly half of the spray paints tested exceeded the total lead content limit above 90 parts per million (ppm), and nearly a third contained levels higher than 10,000 ppm. Samples were obtained from various retail outlets, including hardware stores, home improvement centers, general merchandise marts, school and office supplies shops, in 20 cities and one municipality in Metro Manila and various parts of Luzon.
Several of the spray paints containing lead were imported from countries with existing, legally-binding lead paint regulations, such as China and Thailand. The Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM) confirmed that none of the analyzed samples in this study was produced by one of its affiliates.
After LG’s toxic release of styrene vapor into a nearby residential area killing and injuring people, the Andhra Pradesh State Governmentconvened a High Power Committee (HPC) to investigate the tragedy.
Two months later, the HPC delivered a 4,000-page report sharply critical of LG’s management. The government investigation demonstrated LG’s disregard for safety, raised the possibility of a double standard in LG operations in South Korea and India and revealed significant environmental pollution caused by LG’s massive styrene release.
In response to last week's European Commision announcement that it will allow trade of problematic plastic waste within the EU, IPEN and many other global and European environmental groups have lined up to voice their opposition. Amendments last year to the Basel Convention enhanced restrictions on global trade in waste, helping smaller nations or countries without the capacity to handle that waste reject it. These amendments were passed in response to countless human rights abuses, and environmental pollution caused by unregulated plastic waste dumping. Such problematic plastic wastes now will require prior consent by importing nations. However, the Commision's ruling leaves the door open for waste traders to shunt difficult-to-recycle plastics to substandard operations in poorer EU communities, as well as plastic waste to "waste-to-energy" incinerators in other EU countries.
In its press release, the groups claim that the move undermines both the EU's commitments to carbon neutrality and a circular economy, as well as its global leadership on plastic waste.
"How does bending current EU rules and creating double standards for the EU demonstrate any kind of global leadership?" asked Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network, a global toxic trade watchdog organization. "How is the rest of the world going to take the EU seriously when they preach boldly on the global stage and then run back home to coddle their waste and plastics industries?"
In this newsletter (in Russian / на русском) from the Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asian (EECCA) region, IPEN Participating Organizations from Armenia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Moldova, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan shared results of their recent work. Results presented relate to issues such as the production and use of highly hazardous pesticides, waste incineration, the disposal of obsolete pesticides, and environmental pollution from plastic. The work of these organizations and others contributes to the implementation of the regional EECCA NGO Strategy for Chemical Safety for the period up to 2030.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) is the government legal body with expertise and jurisdiction over environmental matters. After LG's toxic release of styrene gas into a nearby residential area killing and injuring people, NGT convened an investigative committee.
The NGT investigative committee delivered acriticalfinalreport on 28 May 2020 which concluded that LG’s “gross human failure” and the company’s lack of basic safety equipment and procedures caused the tragedy. The committee noted that, “The root cause thus appears to be the lack of experience of LG Polymers India and their Korean principal, LG Chem, in monitoring and maintaining full tanks of styrene that were idled for a long period of several weeks without operation.”