MANILA, Philippines (August 15, 2019)—Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently announced that they will stop export of recyclable waste amid rising global plastic pollution concern and pushback from Asian countries who are at the receiving end of the waste trade.
Green groups in and around the region are wary of the pronouncement that can be used as an opening to push for waste-to-energy (WtE) incineration which the Australian government has been silently supporting. They are also pushing the government to take back waste that were already shipped to Asian countries.
Jane Bremmer, Coordinator, Zero Waste Australia (National Toxics Network): “The Prime Minister’s announcement and Council of Australian Governments’ (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 Southeast 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. Waste-to-energy incineration has no place in a sustainable zero waste management and circular economy agenda. Burning finite resources in our residual waste stream—predominantly single-use, non-recyclable, fossil fuel-based plastic waste—is not only highly polluting but entrenches a linear economy, the very cause of global climate, pollution and health disasters and is the antithesis of a sustainable circular economy.” Contact: Jane Bremmer, +(618) 0432 041 397; firstname.lastname@example.org
Enzo Favoino, Scientific Coordinator, Zero Waste Europe: “While we welcome Australia’s move to ban waste export, we are strongly against any plans by the federal government to use this to justify waste-to-energy incineration in the hope that it will power Australian homes. Burning plastics is one of the largest contributors to climate change, and energetic efficiencies of incinerators are appallingly low, let alone where heat finds little or no use. In Europe, a climate correction factor had to be adopted to artificially change calculation of energy efficiency and falsely show higher energy efficiency where heat is to no use, as it would be the case in most situations in Australia. However, Europe has disincentivized support to new incineration projects in the last few years, since reliance on incineration may be counterproductive for the ambitious recycling and reuse targets as defined in the Circular Economy Package. Most recently, a study in Nordic countries is showing that these countries are not on track to meet EU’s recycling target because of heavy reliance on incineration. Australia should learn from the mistakes of Europe and not invest in incineration. Reusing and recycling saves remarkably more energy than what may be retrieved through incineration, and given the remarkably low energetic efficiency of incinerators, waste of energy is a more appropriate term to use than waste to energy.” Contact: Enzo Favoino, +39 335 355446; email@example.com
Beau Baconguis, Plastics Campaigner of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific and Break Free From Plastic Asia Pacific coordinator: “There is a clear link between waste dumping by the Global North and the promotion of false solutions such as incineration to the waste problem in developing countries. Asia is now standing up against this injustice. Moreover, communities in our region, as well as in the global north, have demonstrated that the solution to the plastic waste problem is Zero Waste and that involves plastic waste reduction, alternative delivery systems, and ecological waste management programs. Governments need to listen more to its people rather than the profit-driven corporations peddling non-solutions.” Contact: Beau Baconguis, +63 917 8715257, firstname.lastname@example.org
Yuyun Ismawati, Alliance for Zero Waste Indonesia (AZWI) and co-founder & Senior Advisor of BaliFokus/Nexus3 Foundation: “We call for the Consulate General of Australia in Surabaya to apologize for saying that the Indonesian government approved Australia’s sending of nasty scrap. Our government never approved such importation. We also ask the Australian ports to improve and strengthen their monitoring and the work of the surveyors who confirm the impurities and content of “recyclables” inside containers that are sent out of Australia. Finally, we call on the exporting and importing companies to clean the messy dumpsites they have created in Indonesia and the rest of Asia. We also call for the Australian government to collaborate with the Indonesian government to use safe technology to treat historical plastic waste in dumpsites and avoid incineration.” Contact: Yuyun Ismawati, +447583768707, email@example.com
Mageswari Sangaralingam, Consumers Association of Penang (Malaysia): “The Malaysian government announced in May that it will send back Australian plastic waste because it was too contaminated to recycle or had been falsely labelled and smuggled in. Now that the Australian PM made pronouncement to stop waste export, the Australian government must take back waste that has already been shipped to Malaysia. We want the Australian government to clearly state their plans and timelines in cleaning up their mess (waste take back) and in stopping waste export. Further, in the future we want assurances that wastes are not relabelled and exported as commodities or fuel.” Contact: Mageswari Sangaralingam, +60128782706, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jed Alegado, Communications Officer, Break Free From Plastic, email@example.com | +63 917-6070248
Sherma Benosa, Communications Officer, GAIA Asia Pacific, firstname.lastname@example.org | +63 917-8157570
Sonia Astudillo, Communications Officer, GAIA Asia Pacific, email@example.com | +63 917-5969286
Alliance for Zero Waste Indonesia (AZWI) is an alliance of organizations and concerned individuals, campaigning to promote a correct term of the Zero Waste approach to enforce the existing activities, programs and initiatives that have already implemented in many Indonesian cities considering waste management hierarchy concept, material life cycle, and circular economy. https://www.aliansizerowaste.id/
Nexus3 Foundation (formerly known as BaliFokus) is a non-governmental organization working to improve community’s capacity, quality of life and advocating a toxics-free environment together with all stakeholders in sustainable way. https://www.balifokus.asia/
Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) focuses on sustainable and ethical consumption and challenges current aggressive advertising industry that is unfettered and shapes people’s consumption to lifestyles and behavior that is unsustainable, unethical, and inequitable. https://consumer.org.my/
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries whose ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration. www.no-burn.org
National Toxics Network is a community-based network working to ensure a toxic-free future for all. It is a national network giving a voice to community and environmental organizations across Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. https://ntn.org.au/
Zero Waste Europe is a fast-growing movement of communities, local leaders, businesses, experts, influencers, and other “change agents” working towards the vision of eliminating waste in our society. https://zerowasteeurope.eu/