July 10th, 2015

Community Action Protects Clean Air, Health, and Justice

[Global] On July 3rd, groups around the world celebrated Plastic Bag Free Day with actions around the world. In Europe, groups used the day to highlight new EU Directive which paves the way for a Europe without plastic bags.

[Global] With the establishment of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the international community has a historic opportunity to get climate finance right. Fortunately, there are many positive examples to learn from. This report presents 22 climate-related projects, programs, and policies that organizations from the Global South and North have identified as successful, and draws out some of the common characteristics of these examples, with the hope that the GCF may incorporate these lessons into their financing strategies.


[United States] The White House has vetoed a bill that would have approved carbon neutrality for biomass burning, explaining that “The Administration objects to the bill’s representation of forest biomass as categorically “carbon-neutral.” This language conflicts with existing EPA policies on biogenic CO2 and interferes with the position of States that do not  apply the same policies to forest biomass as other renewable fuels like solar or wind. This language stands in contradiction to a wide-ranging consensus on policies and best available science from EPA’s own independent Science Advisory Board, numerous technical studies, many States, and various other stakeholders.”

[United States] GAIA, Partnership for Working Families, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, Massachusetts Coalition on Safety and Health and researchers at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, have released a new study calling for safe working conditions for workers in the recycling facilities. See a summary of highlights and industry response in this Waste360 article.


[India] Suman More (50), who has spent the past 37 years going through garbage on Pune streets, has just returned from the International Labour Conference in Geneva, where she addressed delegates about her work and rising above the challenges she faced.


[India] On June 17th, 2015, members of Hasiru Dala and CCRA (Clean City Recyclers association) representing 8000 waste pickers, itinerant waste buyers, small scrap dealers of Bangalore called on local government to improve the health security of waste pickers and scrap dealers, making specific recommendations.


[Slovenia] This video tells the story of a against waste burning in cement kiln located in the Zasavje region of Slovenia. The fight was led by a NGO Eko krog and Uroš Macerl, who is their president. This is a story about local residents who have been tirelessly fighting against a multinational company Lafarge for over 10 years for their right to live in a healthy environment.


[Global] This is an interview with Dr. Paul Connett, Professor Emeritus in Environmental Chemistry at St. Lawrence University. For the past 30 years, Dr Connett has put his scientific knowledge to work by helping communities around the world understand the science of controversial issues like incineration and fluoridation.


[Hong Kong] Residents of Hong Kong join Dr. Paul Connett in a song for zero waste!


[Philippines] Encouraged by the recent encyclical letter of Pope Francis, the Ecowaste Coalition on Saturday called on the government to to put an end to garbage dumping in the Philippines. The environmental coalition also has four recommendations to the government, particularly the Bureau of Customs and the Environmental Management Bureau.


[El Salvador] Organizers across Mesoamerica have just finished a meeting in El Salvador, where they developed a Declaration of Activists Against Incineration and for Zero Waste.


[Europe] Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have asked the European Commission to ban incineration of recyclable and biodegradable waste by 2020 as part of its new circular economy proposals.


[Global] Today the Lancet published a new report titled: 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change: Policy Responses to Protect Public Health. An update to the landmark 2009 Lancet Commission report, this new report argues that tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.


[Philippines] Up to 98 container vans of waste have been festering at the ports of Manila and Subic Bay since the first shipment arrived on June 23, 2013. Environmental groups vowed to step up the pressure to demand a resolution to illegally shipped — and hazardous — garbage from Canada on the day marking exactly two years since the illegally shipped waste was dumped on Philippine ports.


[United States] Some of the world’s top environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club argue that allowing the burning of biomass to help reduce consumption of fossil fuels in the nation’s power plants would violate the Clean Air Act. Research points out burning biomass — wood, mainly — for power produces 50 percent more CO2 than burning coal. In addition, burning biomass is much more expensive than burning coal.


[United States] Fourteen conservation groups today urged the White House to eliminate biomass energy — the large-scale burning of wood to create electricity — as a means of compliance under the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan,” which will regulate carbon pollution from power plants. The conservation groups pointed out that the EPA has not identified any scientifically rational basis for treating biomass energy as a means of emissions reduction under the Clean Air Act.


[Spain] The new government of Montcada has announced plans to tackle the nearby Lafarge cement kiln.


[India] After two years of fighting, wastepicker members of the Kagad, Kach, Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP) have won a minimum-wage battle.


[Netherland] Dutch court orders state to reduce emissions by 25% within five years to protect its citizens from climate change, in a landmark ruling expected to cause ripples around the world. The judgement comes after 2 and a half years campaigning for it.


[India] On Environment Day, Safai Sena, a registered organization of Delhi’s waste recyclers presented a memorandum to the Chief Minister, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal.  The memorandum charts out demands of kabaddis in Delhi, and protests the Government’s decision to choose so-called “waste-to-energy” incineration over the environment friendly recycling.


Zero Waste is Happening and Possible!


Check out the latest newsletter from Zero Waste Europe!


[Hong Kong] Hong Kong hosted its first Zero Waste Global Summit on June 11th and it was a great success. It gathered over 150 participants and had many distinguished and diverse speakers. Hong Kong produces 9,000 tons of waste a day, and 67% of this waste ends up in landfills. Initially, the government suggested the building of a large incinerator with the capacity to burn 3,000 tons of waste per day. But the zero waste experts from all parts of the world completely denounced this proposal. Not only would it be expensive, but would also take a toll on the amount of jobs created, the surrounding ecosystems and the energy produced. The summit ended on a positive, optimistic note. Hong Kong already has all the key components for a zero waste future, it all comes down to pulling together all the resources to make zero waste a reality.


[England] In Manchester, “Disco Soup” is the talk of the town. Disco soup is an effort to collect perfectly good food waste to recycle it into nutritious meals to serve the community. This event was put on by the Real Junk Food Project Manchester and brought together more than one hundred volunteers. Disco Soup saved about 700 kg of food that would have gone to waste from restaurants, supermarkets, and other sources that took part in this event. Events like this are extremely important because according to the EN Food and Agriculture Organization, “roughly one-third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption, gets lost or wasted globally, which is about 1.3 billion tons per year.”


[Spain] New case study: Gipuzkoa, Europe’s fastest transition towards ZW! The story of Gipuzkoa shows how they’ve managed to almost double their recycling rates in 5 years. They’ve proved that scrapping incineration plans have saved them money, created jobs and put them on track towards Zero Waste.


[Croatia] According to a recent study published by Zelena akcija (Friends of the Earth Croatia), the town of Prelog in Northern Croatia has officially become the national leader in separate waste collection! Zelena akcija’s study is essentially a “verification of the results of the introduction of a new waste system” in Prelog and six surrounding cities. Within the first four months of implementation, Prelog’s waste management systems (44.24% waste) were already at the high standards in all of Europe (43% waste). If all goes as to plan, Zelena akcija aims to collect 71% of total waste by 2020, which is equivalent to 50 kg per person per year!


[Global] The Ellen MacArthur Foundation launches the results of its latest research which provides, for the first time, an actionable toolkit for policymakers who wish to embark on a circular economy transition.


[Himalayas] Read the story of GAIA staff’s tour of Darjeeling, where they met with leaders replacing a colonial legacy with community solutions for ecological justice.


[England] Plymouth residents have never had access to a residential food waste collection service, and with the arrival of the £147million incinerator some people fear they never will. The huge burning machine, owned by Germany-based MVV Environment Devonport Limited, will be burning all of Plymouth’s residential waste – including food, which could be recycled.


[United States] Five teenage girls from Bangalore won the Technovation challenge at a global pitch event at San Francisco city in the US. They created an app that provides an online marketplace to buy and sell dry waste. With this app, you can sell your garbage by just clicking on it, and a recycling unit will come to collect it.


[United States] Kathryn Garcia, sanitation commissioner, will begin the first big wave of mandatory recycling of organic material—food, yard waste and some soiled paper products—for stadiums seating more than 15,000 people, hotels with more than 150 rooms and food distributors with more than 20,000 square feet. She states that this would be the first step toward achieving the zero waste goal.


Spotlight on Dirty Industry


[United States] The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency announced its settlement with Heritage Thermal Services over the July 2013 malfunction at the incinerator in East Liverpool. Approximately 761 pounds of ash were discharged from the facility, landing in nearby neighborhoods. It has agreed to pay $34,000 for the malfunction.


Check it out!


[United States] Grounded in the principles of environmental and climate justice, the Climate Justice Alliance is putting out a call to our members and allies to take action and be in solidarity with the Black community in the South and to support the #ThisIsWORR (Week of Righteous Resistance) Call to Action. It begins with Black Lives Matter Sunday this July 12 and ends on July 18 with counter-rallies to the KKK action at the South Carolina state capitol. More information.


[Asia Pacific Region] GAIA is looking for an inspiring, dynamic, and goal-oriented Regional Coordinator who can provide leadership in the Asia-Pacific Region, and work with members in the implementation of campaigns and projects to defeat so-called “waste-to-energy” incineration proposals and promote zero waste solutions in the region.