A movement bidding good riddance to bad trash is growing across South East Asia, and it should spark an international reckoning with how we have been dealing with plastic waste, recycling, and responsibility.
China closed its doors in 2018 to nearly a million tons of mixed plastic waste shipments, and with it, the inevitable toxic pollution to land, air, and groundwater that comes with plastic waste. All plastics contain toxic additives, many of which have negative health impacts. In the wake of China’s decision, the developed waste exporting nations set their plastic recycling on course to other South East Asian countries that were soon overwhelmed by the massive trashing.
In May, world governments gave developing countries a tool to resist the deluge of plastic mixed waste shipments through the UN Basel Convention. The US is not a signatory to the treaty, yet attempted to block the decision. The US obstruction failed, and 184 of the world’s governments created new regulations that require waste exporting countries to declare the content of mixed waste shipments and enables receiving countries to refuse plastic waste imports.
The Prime Minister’s announcement and COAG support for a ban on waste exports should be cautiously welcomed and is long overdue following the embarrassing revelations of Australian illegal waste dumping in South East Asia. However, it seems certain that the announcement is designed to distract from a major government push to burn Australia’s waste in polluting incinerators: an industry it quietly supports. As noted by some media reports on the announcement, the government “was exploring using waste in energy plants to power Australian homes.”
Panama City, Panama – Lead in paint was included in the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) framework as an emerging policy issue at its 2nd International Conference on Chemicals Management in 2009. Thereafter, the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint was formed. IPEN plays an important role in the Alliance and is an executing partner in a SAICM project on eliminating lead paint.
NGOs want Mexico, a member of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), to lobby for the OECD to incorporate Basel Convention plastics amendments into the OECD Decision. By doing so, OECD countries will be required to use the prior informed consent procedure for hazardous and mixed/contaminated plastics wastes with each other. This is particularly important for Mexico, because it borders the United States,the main generator of plastics in the world.
Investigative news reporters at Korean media outlet, Hankyoreh, visited nine cities in India, Indonesia, and Vietnam and surveyed more than 120 workers at mobile phone factories over a 70-day period to develop an investigative series they call, “Global Samsung: A report on unsustainable labor practices.” The series asks questions about the life and work of company workers in Asian countries that host its major bases of production. The series assesses Samsung Electronics’ sustainability as a top-tier global company and describes its results as “unpleasant truths.”
The IPEN Francophone Africa Hub, Centre de Recherche et d’Education pour le Développement (CREPD) organized its second regional meeting from the 30thto 31stMay 2019 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. The last Francophone Africa Regional meeting took place in Yaoundé, Cameroon in December 2016. This meeting was an opportunity to share experiences and build the capacities of Participating Organizations (POs). The meeting was attended by POs from the Francophone Africa region, the Regional Coordinators of the Anglophone Africa and North Africa & Middle East hubs, and an IPEN Co-Chair.
The International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action is an annual event held every fourth week of October to raise awareness about the hazards of lead and lead paint. In 2018, events to mark the week were held in at least 50 countries. Of these, thirty-five events were organized by IPEN NGOs in 32 countries.