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?"
Green Groups Denounce Europe's "Do As I Say, Not As I Do" Policy
In April of last year, the European Union joined Norway in co-sponsoring amendments to the world's only waste treaty to establish new trade controls on the dirtiest and most unrecyclable plastic wastes. These amendments were passed in response to countless human rights abuses, and environmental pollution caused by unregulated plastic waste dumping.
Groups pursue ban on waste trade as the first anniversary of the re-exportation of Canadian garbage dumped in the Philippines on May 31 nears
Thursday, 28 May 2020
Quezon City, Philippines Civil society groups marked the first anniversary of the repatriation of 69 container vans of rotting Canadian garbage to their source with a resounding plea for decisive policy actions to prevent its recurrence and to defend environmental justice and the rule of law.
(Gothenburg, Sweden): A ground-breaking study analyzing the effects of toxic chemicals in plastic children’s toys and consumer products on human cells demonstrates that toys made from some recycled plastics are toxic to humans and can significantly contribute to the dioxin daily intake level for children who mouth their toys. The levels of toxic chemicals revealed in all the samples studied were comparable to levels found in hazardous wastes, such as the ash from waste incinerators.
A team of researchers from Arnika, BioDetection Systems, and International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) determined that toys made of black plastic, which is often derived from recycled e-waste plastics with flame retardant chemicals, are toxic to human cells. The study reveals that children mouthing toys made from this plastic are at risk of dangerous health effects from the toxic material. It is the first study to establish the toxic effects of plastic toys made of recycled plastics on human cells.
Shenzhen, China While many parts of the world are still in throes of COVID-19, many Chinese schools have been resuming classes as the epidemic looses its grip on China. For Chinese parents, however, aside from the deadly pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus, they may have to have at least one more concern for their children - the eraser.
As Shenzhen-headquartered NGO Toxics-Free Corps found in a recent investigation, many of the erasers in the market on Chinese mainland contain toxic substances that could pose potential hazards to children’s health.
The collected eraser samples come from the three E-commerce platforms including Taobao, Jingdong and Pinduoduo, as well as the on-site purchase of offline stores, with a total of 86 items, involving 33 well-known stationery brands.
Among 62 erasers the NGO sent for testing, 21 were found containing phthalic acid esters (PAEs), a kind of plasticizer. Moreover, the content of the substance in 18 of sampled erasers go beyond a well-known voluntary standard issued by China Stationery & Sporting Goods Association, the NGO said.
In one of the erasers, the content is 913 times higher than the standard, it added.
This project relates to Sustainable Development Goals #3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15. Special thanks to IPEN's Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia (EECCA) Regional Coordinator Dr. Olga Speranskaya and EECCA Regional Hub Eco-Accord for their important contributions to the development and finalization of the project.
For decades plastic producers have been manufacturing a lie about the recyclability of plastics to justify a toxic and unsustainable industry. The industry manipulation is revealed in an important documentary, Plastic Wars, a Frontline investigation from PBS and NPR. IPEN leader Yuyun Ismawati is featured in the exposé guiding the film crew through communities where a tsunami of plastic waste has been dumped in Indonesia. The images of plastic waste inundating streets and looming over people’s homes is the tip of the iceberg. International shipments of plastic waste from countries in the global north, including the US, EU, Australia and others, shipped and dumped in in the global south, are poisoning food sources and creating dangerous public health hazard. The recent report Plastic Waste Poison’s Indonesia’s Food Chain demonstrates how toxic plastics inundate food sources and imperil human health and the environment.
Alarming levels of some of the most toxic chemicals, including brominated dioxins and brominated flame retardants, were found in consumer products made of recycled plastics sold in Argentina, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, the EU, India, Japan and Nigeria.
Giving hazardous material to children to play with, we can agree, is a terrible idea. But the Canadian government, by allowing some of the most toxic chemicals in the world to be included in recycling, has done just that. Dangerous flame-retardant chemicals, which have been banned globally, can be found in children’s toys and home products that are made of recycled plastics because of one bad policy.