IPEN participating organizations in 36 countries are taking part in the 8th edition of the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week on October 25 to 31. This year’s campaign focuses on the need to hasten progress toward the global goal of phasing out lead paint through regulatory and legal measures. The Week of Action is spearheaded by the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, which is jointly led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and which counts on IPEN and many of its POs from developing countries among its partners. What follows is a brief summary of our POs’ planned activities for the week-long campaign to raise awareness about the hazards and risks of lead, especially on the health of children and other vulnerable groups, and to mobilize stakeholders’ support for the enactment of strong lead paint laws and their effective enforcement.
Although plastics pollution is getting more of the attention it has long deserved, often lost in the discussion are the toxic additives that contaminate plastic products, leach into food webs and the environment, and persist in recycling streams. Without addressing the harms created by these toxic additives, the prospect of achieving a safe circular economy is greatly hindered.
Plastic’s Toxic Additives and the Circular Economy, a new report developed in collaboration with multiple UN convention groups, technical experts, and organizations working to address pollution, discusses the key challenges society faces to eliminate toxic components in the plastics life-cycle, identifies chemicals and sectors of greatest concern, and outlines key approaches for tackling the issues.
This is a press release from the Network for a Carcinogen-Free Society and IPEN. The Network for a Carcinogen-Free Society includes the following groups: Citizens' Action to Create Gunsan without Carcinogens; Civil Action to Create Ulsan without Carcinogens; Coalition of Health and Medical Organizations to Realize the Right to Health; Pharmaceutical Society for a Healthy Society; Dental Society for a Healthy Society; Labor Health Alliance; Humanitarian Practitioner Council; Young Korean Medical Association for the Realization of True Medicine; Green Alliance; Child Health National Solidarity; iCOOP Seoul Council; Korean Women's Environmental Network; Wonjin Foundation; Environment Health Research Institute; National Metal Workers' Union; Korean Confederation of Trade Unions; National Parents' Association for True Education; Green Education Solidarity; Blue Gwangmyeong 21 Action Council; Environmental Movement Alliance; and Environmental Justice.
On September 25, 2020, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that it would sign a “multilateral agreement on the use of lead-reducing paint that complies with international standards”. The main focus is to use products with excellent safety and low lead content below the recommended level of the World Health Organization (WHO) in city-managed facilities and public places. The agreement includes five paint manufacturers, the Korea Paint Ink Industry Cooperative, Seoul Facilities Corporation, SH Corporation, and the Green Seoul Citizens' Committee. This is a valuable fruit of civil society organizations that have been working for a safe environment for children from harmful substances, paint manufacturers that manufacture safe products, and Seoul's efforts to make Seoul safe from harmful substances.
According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, through this agreement, less than 0.009% (90ppm) lead in the interior and exterior of public facilities managed by the Seoul Facilities Corporation and public housing sold, rented, and managed by the Seoul Housing and Urban Corporation (SH) comply with international standards. Only paints containing this will be used.
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.
Webinar series helps communities face wave of waste-to-energy proposals that hide toxic effects
Friday, 11 September 2020
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.
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 inJuly 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
E-waste and the distinction between waste and non-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
Sunday, 16 August 2020
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.