1. GAIA Nigeria Members held a 2-day workshop with the theme Civil Society Organizations Engagement with National and International Plastic Policy Processes” on February 13–14, 2023, at the IBIS Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos. The hybrid (virtual and physical attendance) conference drew national and international stakeholders from the value chain of plastic policy processes.

2. Members of GAIA Nigeria include the Centre for Earth Works (CFEW), Green Knowledge Foundation (GKF), Pan African Vision for the Environment (PAVE), Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Community Action Against Plastic Waste (CAPws), Sustainable Environmental Development Initiative (SEDI), Policy Alert, the Community Development Advocacy Foundation (CODAF), and the Lekeh Development Foundation (LDF).

3. The objectives of the workshop were to:

  • Connect the various GAIA Nigeria members in the country;
  • Exchange knowledge on zero waste and incinerator alternatives;
  • Crystallize ideas on the way forward as Nigeria plays a pivotal role in Africa’s waste management practices.

4. Additionally, the workshop had in attendance participants from the Lagos State Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, Civil Society Organizations, Experts, Trade Associations, and the Media, to deliberate on national and international plastic policy processes.

5. Goodwill messages were delivered by the Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (LSMoE&WR), the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), the Lagos Recyclers Association, and the Lagos Waste Pickers Association.

6. Technical presentations were made by GAIA Africa, LSMoE & WR, LAWMA, LASEPA, and SRADev Nigeria on various thematic areas such as zero waste, climate justice, incineration alternatives, state and national plastic policies, and the global plastic treaty.


During the extensive deliberations at the workshop, the following observations were made:

  1. The challenge of plastic waste is an increasing global and national concern, with its attendant public and environmental health implications.
  2. Whereas waste reduction is key to having zero waste, this concept is not yet fully mainstreamed into national and state waste policy processes.
  3. Plastic is mainly carbon and chemical based however, there is a huge knowledge gap in understanding the toxic chemical components in Nigeria. These hazardous substances are easily transferred into the food chain and other environmental media.
  4. During the last Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC), the Nigerian representation was not formidable.
  5. There is a paucity of information and data on the volume and chemical constituent of plastic in the Nigerian market.
  6. There is a plastic waste regulation ongoing; however, the existing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework is weak and incapable of addressing the current plastic waste management challenges.
  7. The National Association of Scraps and Waste Pickers Association exists at an informal level, they require recognition and integration in the waste management sector.
  8. The Lagos Recyclers Association is a formidable association in the waste management sector. Members of the association are engaged in the value chain of waste management. 
  9. The advent of Pakam software by LAWMA advocates for waste sorting from the source at the household level.
  10. Africa is seeing the increasing emergence of waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration projects. WTE is frequently presented to municipalities as a silver bullet solution to their waste problems. 
  11. Waste generation is intrinsically linked to climate change and there is a lack of urgency from African leaders on sustainable ways to manage plastic and organic waste. Evidence has shown that Green House Gases (GHG) emissions will dramatically increase if plastic production continues as projected and waste is burned.
  12. The involvement of waste pickers in the waste management sector is an effective and inclusive approach to addressing climate change in Africa. 
  13. The informal waste sector is responsible for up to 50% of waste collection and 45% of recycling in low-income countries like Nigeria. The informal waste sector in this case includes waste pickers, collectors, recyclers and aggregators.


  • There is an urgent need for a National Plastic Treaty Steering Committee (NSC). This team should act to provide guidance and oversee the process.
  • The meeting resolved that the Federal Government should ban single-use plastic immediately. This should take effect in 2024 as opposed to the current 2028 date as contained in the proposed national policy on plastic waste management, starting with styrofoam, microbeads, carrier bags, plastic spoons, straws, and disposable cups, as they have no economic value (recycling) potential.
  • We urge the federal government to avoid the adoption of Waste to Energy Technologies such as municipal waste Incinerators and chemical recycling facilities; these are false solutions, as they enable the unsustainable consumption of resources, contribute to climate change, release a cocktail of noxious substances that pose hazards to public health, and diverts funds from cheaper, sustainable zero-waste solutions.
  • All national and state plastic policies should incorporate zero waste principles, taking into account an entire lifecycle approach to plastic management and non-recyclable materials.
  • There is a need for a nationwide campaign and the capacity development of policymakers on the toxicity of plastic within the plastic value chain in Nigeria.


In consideration of the key recommendations from the participants, these resolutions were adopted;

  • There is an urgent call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to declare a state of emergency on plastic production and its chemical constituent transparency.


Finally, we encourage all efforts by the public, private and civil societies to be geared towards a zero-waste economy.

Dated this 14th day of February 2023 in Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria.


The first intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC-1) to end plastic pollution

By Merrisa Naidoo (GAIA/BFFP Africa Plastics Campaigner)

After more than thirty hours of flying and four connecting flights later, I was finally able to join more than 2,335 delegates and over 1,000 representatives from Civil Society, Industry, and IGOs at the first intergovernmental committee meeting (INC-1) for an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution convened by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Punta del Este, Uruguay from the 28 of November to the 2 of December 2022. The magnitude of participants was a clear representation of the world coming together to craft one of the most significant multilateral environmental agreements in history. 

My purpose was clear, to support and strengthen the voices of our African membership in a way that was meaningful to their direct advocacy efforts within their respective countries and for the African continent as a whole. We did that, within the first 2 days of the INC-1, voices of members from Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa, Mauritius, Cameroon, Kenya, the Gambia and Tunisia came together in camaraderie, good spirits and motivated to ensure that their country delegates were well informed and equipped going into the first round of negotiations. Together, we very quickly became a formidable force to be reckoned with, in developing key relationships with our fellow African country representatives and laying our demands on the table which were to; 1)  Raise the Stakes on Ambition, 2) Produce a Clear Target for Future Negotiations, 3) Reserve the Right to Vote, 4) Reduce Plastic Production and 5) Stay Clear of Industry Agendas & False Solutions. It gave us great pride to see the African Group (AG) taking ownership of this process especially since Africa continues to shoulder the burden of toxic and non-recyclable plastic waste exports despite not being net producers of the plastic crisis. Their interventions were strong, reflective of all voices and developed with the realities of the region in mind.

Amidst the high-level interventions, world-cup fever soon set in and what better way than sport to bring nations together and realise their patronage to the well-being of their people and countries. The global plastics treaty should therefore seek to pay heed to the interconnectedness of people within their natural environment and include the protection of livelihoods and communities vulnerable to the present environmental catastrophes, which is in line with the United Nations General Assembly declaration that everyone on the planet earth has a right to a healthy environment. Civil society, waste pickers, fenceline and frontline communities, indigenous and traditional communities, and women are to be at the centre of the negotiations. They should be at the table and not simply on the menu! Unfortunately, giving industries and top polluting companies a seat at the table, whose agenda prioritises profit over people, will prove to stifle the effectiveness of what the treaty can achieve.

In this regard, during the INC-1, it was rather concerning to learn of the pronounced presence of polluting industries; this was especially felt during the convening of a multi-stakeholder forum which was a roundtable discussion organized a day before the start of the negotiations to deliver a report to the INC, despite the fact that it is not included in the mandate to develop the treaty and the entire set-up appeared to be industry-driven and an effort to divert and prevent the voices of civil society and rights holders from direct and more meaningful forms of participation in the treaty development process. 

As we move ahead and prepare for INC-2 in May 2023, our efforts need not be undermined by industry greenwashing and tactics based on false solutions and voluntary commitments. As the GAIA/BFFP Africa team, we will continue to support and uphold the tireless efforts of our members to ensure their voices reach their country’s focal points in a just and equitable way that is meaningful and towards the development of a strong treaty. 

To kick-start this, be sure to look out for the INC-1 member pack and the newly formed Africa Plastics Working Group in 2023, which will aim to create a platform that brings together GAIA and BFFP Africa members with an interest in various aspects of the plastics crisis to 1) Share their experiences & work within their respective countries, 2) Build capacity on plastic policy & legislation on the continent, 3) Strategize on positions & work geared towards the plastics treaty with a regional perspective, 4) Collaborate on joint projects & campaigns of interest and 5) Forster support for one another. 

Let’s End the Age of Plastics!

Environmentalists worldwide are stepping up their efforts to call businesses and global leaders to phase out single-use plastic (SUP) to address plastic pollution and the climate crises.  Onsite and online actions are organized in key cities around the world on January 6 to mount the Refuse Single Use Day. 

Led by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Zero Waste youth, and their allies expressed their demand to eliminate the production of SUPs. Around 400 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year, yet less than 10 percent are recycled. Continued plastic production and consumption heats up global climate temperatures, depletes our resources, intoxicates the environment and creates public health issues, feeds incinerators, and chokes landfills and oceans. The most problematic form of plastic is SUP  meant for one-time use such as cups, cutleries, bottle drinks, plastic stirrers and plastic bags. 

Refuse Single Use Day is the opening of International Zero Waste Month (IZWM) as GAIA together with its members and allies,  doubled down on their commitment to creating a global movement that puts an end to waste pollution. The IZWM is a historic moment for the movement, built on its decades-long campaign to design and manage products and to avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste materials.

Back in 2014, then Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III designated the month of January of every year as National Zero Waste Month through Presidential Proclamation No. 760. The observance also coincides with the signing anniversary of the Philippine Republic Act 9003 known as the “Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000”. Both efforts were envisioned to address waste pollution.

Fast forward to 2020, GAIA Asia Pacific led the Zero Waste Month celebration in the region culminating in a global celebration this 2023.

Kicking the month-long celebration of Zero Waste wins, the 1st ever Refuse Single-Use Day is envisioned to galvanize leaders to declare a phase-out of SUPs and craft an ambitious Global Plastics Treaty. Refuse Single-Use Day is designed to coincide with the IZWM to underscore the importance of paving the path towards a Zero Waste future. 

With the theme Zero Waste to Zero Emissions, this month-long celebration hopes to highlight the connection between waste and climate, and highlight proven Zero Waste solutions as powerful climate action. Implementing Zero Waste strategies can reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from waste of up to an average of 84%.

This Refuse Single-Use Day, GAIA Asia Pacific is posing the challenge not only to individuals but also to communities, organizations, and institutions to take the pledge and take action for the environment. It’s time to refuse and say no to single-use cups, cutlery, plastic bags, and more.  Share your stories on our Facebook page. https://web.facebook.com/refusesingleuseday 

The International Zero Waste Month is made possible in partnership with the following media outlets: Advocates (Philippines), Bandung Bergerak (Indonesia), Business Ecology (China), The Business Post (Bangladesh), The Manila Times (Philippines), Pressenza (Global), Rappler (Philippines), Sunrise Today (Pakistan), The Recombobulator Lab (Global), and Republic Asia. 


GAIA is a network of grassroots groups as well as national and regional alliances representing more than 1000 organizations from 92 countries. For more information, visit www.no-burn.org or follow GAIA Asia Pacific on social media: FacebookTwitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok


Sonia G. Astudillo, Senior Communications Officer, +63 9175969286, sonia@no-burn.org

Dan Abril, Communications Associate, dan@no-burn.org 

De izquierda a derecha: Magdalena Donoso (GAIA), Soledad Mella (ANARCH), Alberto Queaada (MarViva), Alejandra Parra (RADA), Larisa de Orbe (Acción Ecológica México), Cecilia Bianco (Taller Ecologista), Nautica Welch (GAIA), Ricardo Navarro (CESTA El Salvador), Andrea Lema (Alianza Basura Cero Ecuador), Mirko Moskat (Taller Ecologista), Manuela Quaroni y Manuel Rojo (Alianza Basura Cero Chile).

Participación, un sistema de toma de decisiones eficiente y objetivos orientados a un tratado con un enfoque de derechos humanos fueron las consignas que trajo la robusta delegación de más de una decena de representantes de organizaciones de seis países de América Latina a la primera reunión del Comité Intergubernamental sobre el tratado de plásticos, que concluyó en Punta del Este, Uruguay.

El objetivo del Comité (INC por su siglas en inglés) es desarrollar un instrumento internacional jurídicamente vinculante para la reducción y eliminación progresiva de los vertidos de plástico al ambiente. En su último día de desarrollo, la delegación latinoamericana calificó los logros de este INC-1 como modestos.

Sin embargo, tenemos la certeza de que nuestro trabajo dedicado con delegados de todos los países de la región presentes, han logrado influir en los puntos fundamentales que traemos en nuestra agenda.”

 Magdalena Donoso coordinadora regional de GAIA América Latina y el Caribe.

Una de las cuestiones que más preocupa a la delegación es el desarrollo de un mecanismo de participación eficiente y en igualdad de condiciones para todas las partes. El Foro Multiactor no es una forma eficaz de hacerlo, y no es en absoluto una prioridad para nuestras organizaciones como sí lo es observar y participar en las negociaciones. Por lo que para que eso avance, necesitamos más delegados, y más recursos para los países que no tienen suficiente financiación para llevar más de un delegado, o ninguno. En lugar de destinar dinero y tiempo en un foro que no logra nada sustancial, esos recursos y tiempo deberían invertirse en ayudar a esos países, para poder contar con más de un grupo de contacto y tener los avances que se necesitan para enfrentar una crisis tan dañina como la de la contaminación por plásticos.

Creemos que es fundamental  una mayor participación de la sociedad civil que defiende el ambiente y en muchas ocasiones pierde la vida por ello. El tratado de Escazú es un instrumento jurídico que  garantiza el derecho a participar en la toma de decisiones que afectan a nuestro ambiente. Creemos que debemos promover sus principios en los países de todo el mundo. 

Las comunidades locales se enfrentan a muchas formas de contaminación, y una de ellas es el plástico. Nosotros en Latinoamérica y el Caribe, estamos sometidos al comercio internacional de desechos plásticos, esto significa que no sólo nos afecta la contaminación por plástico que se producen y usan en nuestro territorio, sino que también nos afecta la contaminación causada por el consumo de  plásticos tóxicos de otros países más ricos. Por ejemplo, el PVC. El PVC no es reciclable de forma ecológica, y no sabemos cómo se gestionan las importaciones de ese material tóxico en nuestros países, pero sabemos que estos tóxicos están contaminando nuestra agua, nuestros alimentos, nuestro aire y nuestros cuerpos. 

Queremos recordarles a los delegados que participan de las negociaciones que un tratado eficaz para frenar la contaminación por plásticos debe reducir la producción, eliminar las sustancias tóxicas en la producción de plásticos, limitar el uso de plásticos a lo esencial, reconociendo su vinculación con las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero.”

Larisa de Orbe de Acción Ecológica y la Academia Mexicana de Derecho Ambiental.

Detener las falsas soluciones como la incineración y el reciclaje químico, y contar con una participación efectiva de los grupos de clasificadores y recicladores de base, así como  de la sociedad civil, reconociendo la diferencia entre la participación de las organizaciones y personas que representan a las comunidades locales, de las que representan los intereses de la  industria que han causado esta crisis global que daña nuestros derechos humanos y la naturaleza de manera permanente es fundamental para lograr un Tratado global de plásticos exitoso. 

Contacto de prensa:

Camila Aguilera, Comunicaciones GAIA América Latina

camila@no-burn.org | +56951111599


GAIA es una alianza mundial de más de 1.000 grupos de base, organizaciones no gubernamentales e individuos en 92 países. Con nuestro trabajo pretendemos catalizar un cambio global hacia la justicia medioambiental mediante el fortalecimiento de los movimientos sociales de base que promueven soluciones a los residuos y la contaminación. Imaginamos un mundo justo, basura cero, basado en el respeto a los límites ecológicos y a los derechos de las comunidades, en el que las personas estén libres de los efectos de la contaminación tóxica y los recursos se conservan de manera sostenible, no se queman ni se tiran.

Break Free From Plastic members worldwide respond to the main high and low points after a week of negotiations


Punta del Este, Uruguay – The first intergovernmental committee meeting (INC-1) for an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution convened by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) concluded today with a mix of high and low moments, setting the stage for a two-year-long process that could result in one of the most significant multilateral environmental agreements in history. 

Positive outcomes included demands calling for reductions in plastic production and use, eliminating toxic substances associated with the plastic life cycle, protecting human health, and need for a just transition, backed by many member States and even two of the worst plastic polluters, Nestle and Unilever. The participation from member States from Latin American, the Caribbean, African, and Pacific nations–especially small island developing states–was particularly notable, bringing a strong voice for urgency and high ambition in these treaty negotiations. 

Additionally, a diverse coalition of civil society members and rights-holders provided vital expertise and typically underrepresented perspectives across the full plastics lifecycle. In particular, the leadership of waste pickers resulted in the launch of the Just Transition Initiative (building upon its earlier iteration as the Group of Friends of Wastepickers), which will ensure their representation at future INCs and bring visibility to more than 20 million people who work as waste pickers worldwide.

Unfortunately, one of the most contentious topics, the adoption of the Rules of Procedure, a document that will determine how States and organizations can engage in future negotiations, has yet to be finalized and was moved to INC-2 in May, 2023. The outstanding issues include whether EU Member States will each have a vote or whether they will be treated as a single bloc during voting, and whether decisions should only be arrived at via consensus. To many observers, the latter seems to be a ploy to weaken strong measures that could be adopted to reduce plastic production. 

Additionally, precious negotiation time was spent discussing the Multi-Stakeholder Forum, a roundtable discussion organized a day before the start of the negotiations to deliver a report to the INC, despite the fact that it is not included in the mandate to develop the treaty and the entire enterprise appears to be an effort to divert and prevent the voices of civil society and rightsholders from direct and more meaningful forms of participation in the treaty development process. As a result, BFFP members demanded that the INC design a negotiation process that facilitates meaningful access for rightsholders and recognizes the critical role of civil society groups such as Indigenous Peoples, scientists, workers from formal and informal sectors, trade unions, and climate-vulnerable and frontline communities in bringing valuable experiences to all aspects of the process and the future instrument. 

During the first few days of negotiation, advocates expressed concerns about the presence of leading corporate polluters  in the negotiation process and the lack of transparency from UNEP on how many of them are hiding behind NGO badges. Stakeholders who participated in the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control advocated strongly for the exclusion of the plastics industry in negotiations, building   from their success in excluding perpetrators from tobacco negotiations, which resulted in a stronger and more effective framework.

In terms of future INC venues, country delegates agreed to host the next INC-2 exclusively in-person in Paris, the week of May 22nd, 2023 as long as visas can be issued to all negotiators of  Member State delegations  at least two weeks in advance of the meetings. Otherwise, the meeting will be moved to Nairobi. 

Today after the conclusion of INC-1, the #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement launched a global petition which includes essential elements for the treaty to effectively reverse the plastic pollution crisis.

Break Free From Plastic members react to the end of the Plastics Treaty INC-1:

Maddie Koena, the South African member of the delegation of International Alliance of Waste Pickers (South Africa), said: 

“It’s been good this week to see such widespread recognition of the vital role we waste pickers play. Now countries need to design the treaty with our livelihoods and human rights in mind.  Personally I’m very pleased to see my country of South Africa leading the way on this, alongside Kenya, by launching the Just Transition Initiative as a joint initiative with the International Alliance of Waste Pickers and other stakeholders.”

Alejandra Parra, Co-Founder, Red de Acción por los Derechos Ambientales RADA, and GAIA Advisor (Chile), said:

“As organizations working with local communities most impacted by pollution, we know the urgency of achieving a treaty to reduce the production of plastics to stop the flood of microplastics in our water, in our air, in our food, and in our bodies. We can’t remove all of these microplastics from the environment but we can stop them from entering now.”

Jane Patton, Plastics and Petrochemicals Campaign Manager, Center for International Environmental Law (USA and Switzerland), said: 

“This week, an incredible coalition of over 100 civil society and rights-holder organizations came together to say “No mas plasticos!” on the global stage. These dedicated advocates pushed for solutions to plastic pollution on the scale of the crisis we are facing. The planet cannot handle the plastics that have already been produced, let alone an onslaught of new production. Only through dedicated inclusion of these voices can we negotiate an effective treaty to truly end plastic pollution.”

Joan Marc, Executive Director, Zero Waste Europe (Belgium), said:

“It is encouraging to see how the majority of countries participating in the first session of the Global Plastic Treaty in Uruguay spoke in favour of ambitious goals to change the way we use plastic, from tackling production to addressing health impacts. Unfortunately, for as long as the system continues to allow a few oil and plastic producing countries to veto the decisions of the majority, the fate of this plastic treaty can only resemble that of the climate treaties and lead to the lowest ambition. The negotiations didn’t start well, let’s redouble efforts to show the impact of plastic pollution so that taking action is inexcusable!”

Ana Rocha, Executive Director, Nipe Fagio (Tanzania), said:

“Vulnerable communities have consistently played a major role in plastic waste management despite being historically neglected in waste management systems and is significantly affected by plastic production. Working with waste pickers and waste cooperatives that lead zero waste models in Tanzania, we witness the impact of plastic in our communities. Companies with revenue higher than our GDP produce plastic that we don’t have the capacity to manage, neither should it be our responsibility, and flood our markets. These products do not make goods available to people unless they can afford them, so we face the contradiction of people drinking untreated water while their environment and waterways are filled with plastic bottles.”

Graham Forbes, Global Plastics Project Lead, Greenpeace USA (USA), said: 

“We cannot let oil producing countries, at the behest of big oil and petrochemical companies, dominate and slow down the treaty discussions and weaken its ambition. If the plastics industry has its way, plastic production could double within the next 10-15 years, and triple by 2050 – with catastrophic impacts on our planet and its people. The High Ambition Coalition must show leadership by pushing the negotiations forward and calling for more ambitious measures which protect our health, our climate and our communities from the plastics crisis.” 

Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator, Break Free From Plastic (Philippines), said:

“It was extremely gratifying to hear some of the world’s worst plastic polluters like Nestle and Unilever call for a cap on virgin plastic production and the need for a global plastic treaty based on mandatory policy. Both companies also expressed the need to eliminate problematic plastics. Now they should lead by example and change their own business models to match their statements. Consumer goods companies have played a huge role in perpetuating the plastic crisis, they can also help solve it. Companies must invest in reuse systems instead of single-use, eliminate problematic packaging types like sachets, and drastically reduce their plastic use.”

Additional reactions from BFFP members and allies are available here.


Notes to the editor

  • Coalition members and country delegates photo available here (Photo Credit: John Chweya)
  • BFFP members with INC Chair, Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, available here (Photo Credit: GAIA)
  • INC-1 Cartoons available here
  • Images of Fenceline Watch and Greenpeace projections in Punta del Este

About BFFP #BreakFreeFromPlastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in 2016, more than 2,700 organizations and 11,000 individual supporters from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. BFFP member organizations and individuals share the values of environmental protection and social justice and work together through a holistic approach to bring about systemic change. This means tackling plastic pollution across the whole plastics value chain – from extraction to disposal – focusing on prevention rather than cure and providing effective solutions. www.breakfreefromplastic.org.

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Waste Pickers Demand the Treaty Include a Just Transition


Punta del Este, Uruguay– The formation of a Group of Friends of Waste Pickers was announced today at the negotiations towards a global plastics treaty. This historic moment marks unprecedented recognition of the rights, skills, and importance of the informal waste sector; never before have countries formally committed to advocate on behalf of waste pickers in the context of international negotiations. The Group is a voluntary body made up of representatives of member states from around the world  to ensure waste pickers voices are heard in the Plastic Treaty negotiations. 

The announcement comes at the outset of the first international negotiations committee (INC-1) meeting to establish the text of the Global Plastics Treaty, which will be the first legally binding treaty to address plastic pollution, from extraction to disposal. The inclusion of waste pickers in the negotiations signals that countries are acknowledging the pivotal role that waste pickers play in creating solutions to the plastic crisis, and should therefore be recognized as key stakeholders in the treaty process. 

Between 12.6 & 56 million people work in the informal recycling sector, and in many places their efforts account for almost all of the materials recycled in their municipalities. Despite this, waste pickers often go unrecognized and/or compensated by their local governments, and work in undignified conditions.  In Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, it is estimated that the informal sector provides 50-90% of the recyclable materials that are used by local industry or exported, yet only receives 5% of the profits.

The core demand of waste picker groups is to develop a just transition plan, which must include adequate compensation for services, opportunities for self employment, a key role in the plastic value chain, entrepreneurship, and a role in the creation and implementation of policies to end the plastic crisis at a local and international level. 

Soledad Mella, President of the  National Association of Waste Pickers Chile (ANARCH), Communications secretary RedLacre: 

“It is historic to see more than 19 countries aligning with the International Alliance of Waste Pickers with delegates who can politically influence decisions, guaranteeing the participation of waste pickers in the negotiation. Now, the biggest challenge is that the process is truly binding and that they take into account our demand, which is a just transition that guarantees the participation of waste pickers in the entire recycling chain and in every negotiation, and that the laws that will be implemented see waste pickers as a fundamental part of the recycling chain”.

Adja  Mame Seyni Paye Diop – Vice President of the Waste Pickers from Senegal: 

“What I expect from this treaty and this meeting is that people take our jobs into account. For me a just transition is having  alternative jobs to support our families when it comes time to close dump sites.”

Waste picker groups demand: 

  • A definition of Just Transition and a description of waste pickers in the
  • draft text for the negotiations.
  • A negotiating cluster dedicated to Just Transition.
  • The commissioning of a report highlighting the contribution of waste pickers in recycling and reducing plastic pollution, where waste pickers will provide input.
  • Financial support to attend international negotiations.

Press contacts:

Camila Aguilera, Communications GAIA Latin America

camila@no-burn.org | +56951111599

Claire Arkin, Global Communications Lead

claire@no-burn.org | +1 973 444 4869

Note to Editor: For more information on waste picker justice in the Global Plastics Treaty negotiations, please visit our webpage, https://www.no-burn.org/unea-plastics-treaty/.


GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 1000 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in 92 countries. With our work we aim to catalyze a global shift towards environmental justice by strengthening grassroots social movements that advance solutions to waste and pollution. We envision a just, zero waste world built on respect for ecological limits and community rights, where people are free from the burden of toxic pollution, and resources are sustainably conserved, not burned or dumped.

By Camila Aguilera, communications GAIA LAC; Alejandra Parra, Plastics and Zero Waste GAIA LAC.

GAIA members and allies at INC1 in Uruguay

In March of this year, we celebrated the culmination of the fifth meeting of the United Nations with the decision to develop  the future Global Plastics Treaty, a global tool focused on regulating plastic production and ending plastic contamination, and that recognized the role of grassroots recyclers for the first time. 

Nevertheless, we celebrate with caution, because as long as there is no definitive end to the plastic pollution crisis and the negotiations are not settled, we will continue to move between hope and mobilization.

The first meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations Committee (INC-1), the organization in charge of developing the future treaty, began on November 28 in Punta del Este, Uruguay. Meanwhile, plastic production and pollution continue without respite, because while we celebrate the steps taken to close the tap of plastic pollution, the production industry, waste exports to the Global South and the threats of false solutions are also advancing, and are kicking their way through.

For example, between the resolution of UNEA 5.2 and the first meeting of the International Negotiation Committee (INC-1), Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice granted an injunction to the companies Oxxo and Propimex, both owned by Femsa Coca-Cola, exempting them from having to comply with the prohibition to continue selling their products in single-use plastic containers such as PET and styrofoam.

Likewise, areas in the Asia Pacific continue to suffer the severe consequences of pollution caused by plastic waste imports that are not adequately regulated and controlled. A legally binding Global Plastics Treaty would complement the Basel Convention’s measures by providing more tools to end the cross border trade in plastic waste, to promote local solutions that do not lead to false solutions such as incineration, and to eliminate plastics that cannot be safely reused or recycled.

It is critical that each INC meeting reaches agreements that reflect the spirit and ambitions set out in Resolution 5/14: “Ending Plastic Pollution: Towards a Legally Binding International Instrument”. Our members and hundreds of civil society organizations are now ready to join forces and demand that governments adhere to the high-ambition commission, taking robust measures to address every stage of the plastic cycle, from the extraction of raw material, through manufacturing, use, to final disposal and management.

Therefore, the success of the first meeting of the INC will depend on:

  • Delivering a negotiations roadmap that prioritizes reducing plastic polymer production and a just transition.  Time-allocation is decisive, and only a negotiation schedule that makes ample time for reduction and just transition will deliver a treaty that is effective on those fronts.
  • Deciding on a Specific Convention that blends binding global obligations including reduction targets with National Action Plans that build the infrastructure and systems needed to reduce plastic production, end plastic pollution, and deliver a just transition for affected informal and formal workers, including reuse, and infrastructure to safely mechanically recycle plastic waste in the countries where it is generated .
  • Adopting working definitions for concepts that shape treaty scope, such as “plastics”, “plastic pollution” and “lifecycle”, to ensure clarity in negotiations and sufficient scope to effectively tackle pollution across the lifecycle of plastics, until such definitions are formally adopted in future treaty text or annexes.
  • Establishing a framework to ban plastic polymers, additives, products and waste-management processes that harm human or environmental health.
  • Ensuring meaningful and direct participation for civil society, not mediated by the Major Groups system that is not fit for purpose for treaty negotiations and was not adopted for the Open-Ended Working Group meeting. Civil society needs include financial and interpretation support for participation in negotiations, as well as access to contact groups. Special attention must be given to waste-pickers, fenceline and frontline communities, Indigenous and Traditional communities, and women.

It is the beginning of a two and a half year journey to finally achieve a Global Plastics Treaty designed at the height of the world crisis of plastics pollution; one that is legally binding, with measures that cover the complete lifecycle of plastics, that prohibit the use of toxic additives and that provide a just transition for recyclers. The organizations of our movement are ready to make their voices heard.

Interview with Daru Rini, Prigi Arisandi, and Tonis Afianto by Sonia Astudillo

Photo courtesy of ECOTON

Have you ever met a group of people who talk about the problems of the world, show you solutions, and suddenly you feel like there is hope for this world? That is what it felt like talking to Daru Rini, Prigi Arisandi, and Tonis Afrianto, Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation’s Executive Director, Senior Researcher and Founder, and Communication Officer, respectively.  

Once tagged as rebels by their university professors, Daru and Prigi who both studied Biology, found their calling when they set-up ECOTON as a research club in the university in 1996 and then as a non-government organization in 2000. Tonis joined the team in 2018 to bring in his communication expertise.     

“I worry about daily pollution that is happening right in front of our eyes. Fish are dying in the river, people are cutting mangroves, there was rampant building of houses in conservation areas, there was high pollution of heavy metals in coastal areas, and the water is changing colors” said Prigi. “It was difficult to understand why we are polluting the water on one side of the river and then drinking from the other side. Why is it happening? Those were the questions I had as a young researcher and I knew we needed to do something about it: research, compile data, present it to the governor via demonstrations, and get people in the city involved.”   

For Daru, it was about protecting biodiversity and the realization that the source of the problem is from the lands.  

“Back in the university, we were the naughty students,” added Prigi. “We felt useless because we had a lot of equipment but we did nothing. We were angry with the lectures because it seemed useless. Our professors became our enemy.”  Twenty years later though, Prigi was invited by the university and was given an Alumni Award for their outstanding work in ECOTON.

ECOTON, based in Gresik, East Java in Indonesia continues to promote environmental justice for present and future generations, especially in sustainable wetland resource management. The group uses the Himantopus bird as a logo to signal that just like the bird they will keep warning people if there is imminent danger. “We see our work as a warning system because we believe that we must provide good information to the community based on scientific research,” says Daru.

GAIA sat down with Daru, Prigi, and Tonis to know more about their work, their frustrations, and their achievements through the years.

Photo courtesy of ECOTON

What are ECOTON’s top priorities?

We believe: if you don’t know it, you don’t love it. We provide easy information. We transform difficult data into easy-to-understand information. Our job is to make scientific information easy to understand.  (Watch documentaries by ECOTON.)

Our dream is a people’s movement.  We want to see people conserving rivers by themselves.  We want data to translate into active participation.  

On top of that, we give early warning about environmental conditions like threats, pollution, and extinction. We share those information to stakeholders like the community, government, and media via social media and documentaries. We prioritize local community groups organizing so they can have the awareness, knowledge, and skill to participate. For the government, we push for policies that support environmental conservation while constantly reminding them through our scientific reports. Without reports and monitoring, the government will not act. 

What are ECOTON’s main ongoing campaigns? 

Our main campaign is for river protection to become a national priority of the government. Currently, there are policies on forest impact of mining but we don’t see river management programs.  

We use the information on microplastics as a tool for people to care more about rivers. Currently, all of our rivers are polluted by microplastics and it comes from the waste that we throw. It impacts our health because this same river supplies 86% of our drinking water. We want people to realize that everything we dump will eventually end up in our bodies. 

Research from ECOTON, from the UK, and Netherlands shows that microplastics are already in our bodies. We did a study that feces is contaminated with microplastics and we show how it comes from the waste thrown in the river. (Read the full report in Bahasa.

We are also suing the governor in East Java because they are not prioritizing waste management in the river despite Policy 22-2021 stating that all rivers must be without waste. 

At ECOTON, we write stories, we visit rivers, we make documentaries, and we talk to the media because we want the information that we have to become common knowledge. 

Photo courtesy of ECOTON

What are your biggest accomplishments/achievements?

For one, we are still alive after 22 years. ECOTON has now become more publicly known by the people and the government. It makes it easier for us to make educational programs and reach the public. We have more networks now, so it is easier to find support. Joining a global network also helped us develop our campaigns and gave us access to more funding, knowledge, and even volunteers. 

After we did the Stop Waste Export campaign, we got support from other NGOs in Europe and Australia and a response from developed countries that they will reduce waste trade. (Watch Take Back – a documentary on smuggling waste in Indonesia)

We have developed partnerships in communities in more than 68 rivers in Indonesia.

When we first released the dioxin report, the government said the report is not valid and said they will make their own report to counter ours. To this day, they have not released their report. But, it raised people’s awareness about plastics and its dangers. 

The relationship with the government is still not good but some officers are already warm and welcoming. Some cities welcome us but that is not the case in the provinces, especially after the dioxin report.

What challenges are you facing?  How is your work impacted by the COVID crisis?

Many people don’t think that the environment is an important issue to take care of. Indonesia is still a developing country. People still have low economic status. The priority for most is to earn money for living. That makes it difficult to educate them and stop them from dumping trash in the river. 

We need law enforcement. However, environmental management is not a priority for the government. There is very low funding and lack of personnel to enforce the law and respond to public complaints.

We also need more information or evidence of pollution. We do not have local evidence and no proper laboratory to conduct more tests and studies. Even if we want to know about dioxin pollution in Indonesia, we are unable to do so because of a lack of facilities. We need scientific data to make people understand.  People don’t have knowledge and information.  Evidence must be local. 

The university cannot speak even if they have the data. They are afraid to speak. Environmental activists are harassed and even criminalized. Even journalists are targeted especially when it comes to military members. That is why we need scientific evidence. 

What are the main environmental issues that your country/region is facing?

Harassment of environmental journalists, lack of scientific evidence, and extinction of freshwater fish, are just a few.

The latter can be blamed on microplastics because of its effect on the reproductive hormone. We have research showing that male and female fish don’t have the same time of maturation so they cannot reproduce.  Microplastics can also feminize fish.  Plastic polymers can influence the fertility of both fish and humans. The composition of male and female in a non-polluted river is 50-50 but it is 20-80 in polluted rivers. Given all these, it is safe to say that plastics can cause extinction in both fish and humans. (Watch Plastik Pulau/Plastic Island.)

Photo courtesy of ECOTON

How do you see your organization’s work evolving in the next years? 

We have new programs such as the Besuk Sungai or visit the sick. Our river is sick so we must visit them.  People must visit the river and when you visit, you must do something.  

We provide tools so people can monitor and measure the microplastic in the river.  We collect water samples and use a microscope to see the presence of microplastic. We want to encourage people to learn by doing, to see and smell the river, and to grow empathy towards the river.

We will have our national elections in 2024 and we want to push the candidates to speak about plastics pollution. We also want to push our findings on microplastics to go viral. We want to give full information on the state of 68 rivers in Indonesia and we want people to feel that they are cool if they know about river pollution.

What are your thoughts on the waste crisis that many countries in your region (and in the world) are living in right now?

The Plastics crisis is everywhere. There are problems with mismanaged waste and leakage but developed countries don’t have the capacity to recycle and then developed countries continue to send us their waste.

The solution: we need to have a global agreement – the Global Plastics Treaty. It is good progress because we are starting to deal with plastics, not as a waste issue, but as a material that should be addressed from production so we can achieve circularity and once and for all, solve the problem.

Our grandmothers used to use refills and we need to go back to that so we can reduce production and consumption.  

Photo courtesy of ECOTON

Community participation and global citizenship are important. We are one. We have the same responsibilities and the same rights. In developing countries, the right to speak and the freedom to get information is very limited. We want to fight that. As an NGO, we must produce information and strategize on how to get those information to the people.

We have produced 20 documentaries.  We try to transfer this knowledge to our modern culture, make it popular, and easy to receive. We must replicate a strategy to produce more information and get it outside our circles. We must change as an NGO, engage grassroots communities, and build movements not programs.

Currently we have good relations with the communities where we work not just in Surabaya but also in river communities from 17 cities all over East Java.

Photo courtesy of ECOTON

How does your work on waste relate to social justice?

Through the sustainable use of wetland resources and ecotourism and fishery, we encourage the government to establish protected areas in Surabaya. We proposed a conservation area to the mayor because once it is properly managed, it becomes a source of income for the local community.

We also promote social justice in our biodiversity programs because local people need to develop their economy by using their biodiversity resources sustainably. We discourage the use of destructive fishing equipment and teach the community how to harvest in a sustainable way, both in rivers and forests. 

We also use citizen science as a tool to monitor forest destruction. In every city and river we visit, we establish a community of mostly youth. We have tools to monitor water quality. We identify herbal plants and we promote fishers sanctuary.  We believe that we can live in harmony with the river. In some rivers, we show connections between upstream and downstream – water flow from upstream to downstream so money will flow. If people upstream are cruel, then that will affect those downstream and vice versa. We build connections so they can harmonize.

Who do you admire most in the environmental work (in your country or in the world)?

Silent Spring writer Rachel Carlson because she used scientific reasons. Her evidence made people move and we were inspired. Another is Che Guevara because he went around Latin America in a motorbike to know the condition of the people and then engaged them. 

Photo courtesy of ECOTON

ECOTON is currently raising funds for Besuk Sungai. Visit the Ekspedisi Sungai Suntara Fund Raising Page to know more.

Ocean Conservancy commits to working with GAIA Network to address damages done to impacted communities

September 14, 2022 – Today the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) in the Asia Pacific and its member organizations have concluded the first step of a restorative justice process with the U.S.-based organization Ocean Conservancy (OC). The process aims to address the years of damage brought about by its “Stemming the Tide” report (now removed from OC’s website) by correcting the narrative and agreeing to restorative actions requested by communities and sectors most impacted by the report. 

In contrast to the 2015 report which placed the responsibility for plastic waste solely on the shoulders of five Asian countries (China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam) while ignoring the role of the Global North in plastic overproduction and waste exports, this process is leading to new common ground. Agreements include prioritizing plastic reduction policies, moving resources to Zero Waste solutions, denouncing false solutions like burning plastics in so-called “waste to energy” (WTE) incinerators and “chemical recycling,” and accountability mechanisms.

”This unprecedented report retraction is an opportunity to interrupt decades of waste colonialism,” shares Froilan Grate, GAIA Asia Pacific Coordinator. “Ocean Conservancy is in a position to raise awareness among other organizations and policymakers about the false narrative propagated by the report. We call on all organizations to adhere to democratic organizing principles when interacting with communities in the Global South, and to respect solutions that are grounded in the real situation of the communities.” Grate encourages advocates to reinforce the restorative justice process.

First coined in 1989, waste colonialism is the process by which rich and developed countries show dominance over other lesser-developed countries through toxic waste exports, leaving the receiving (and often, ill-equipped) countries to deal with the waste, thus severely affecting their communities and environment. 

Christie Keith, GAIA International Coordinator, expounds,  “The five Asian countries mentioned in the report are not to be blamed for plastic waste. That fault lies with the corporations that make and push out ever-increasing quantities of plastic – and those fighting for Zero Waste community solutions deserve to be honored and celebrated, not attacked. We welcome OC’s commitment to repair the harm done, and uplift Zero Waste solutions. ”

Aditi Varshneya, GAIA US Membership Coordinator, adds, “‘Stemming the Tide’ also harmed communities in more ways than one. The report’s findings have undermined long-standing community efforts to achieve sustainable policies on health, waste management, and funding.”

Rahyang Nusantara of Aliansi Zero Waste Indonesia emphasizes that “The report (‘Stemming the Tide’) has harmed our communities but we are not victims because we have the solutions.” David Sutasurya of Yaksa Pelestari Bumi Berkelanjutan (YPBB) adds,  “We have Zero Waste solutions to counter waste.”  Sutasurya shares that in the first year of YPBB’s Zero Waste pilot areas in Bandung, the districts successfully diverted 950 kg of waste away from landfills daily and managed to save about IDR 63 million (USD 4,300) in waste transportation costs. 

According to Satyarupa Shekhar, #breakfreefromplastic movement Asia Pacific Coordinator, “OC’s report, which was drafted by McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm whose clientele includes some of the world’s top plastic polluters, diluted existing restrictions on incineration and opened the doors to false solutions and controversial techno-fixes to deal with the plastic pollution crisis. Some of the glaring examples are: in the Philippines, where a national ban on incineration is threatened by new proposals to allow WTE incineration plants, and in Indonesia, where the government continues to push for waste incineration despite the fact that the Supreme Court ruling revoked Presidential regulation No. 18/2016, which speed up the development of waste-based power plants or incinerators.“

Aside from retracting the report, OC acknowledged its mistake in focusing on plastic waste management and reconsidered its position on WTE incineration and other similar technologies to deal with the burgeoning plastic waste crisis. OC has also admitted its error in failing to look at the work of local communities and the subsequent effects of the report on them. 

Welcoming OC’s change of position, Aileen Lucero of Ecowaste Coalition in the Philippines and Daru Rini of ECOTON in Indonesia illustrated that the current plastic crisis is not a waste management issue, but instead, the problem should be addressed by looking at the entire lifecycle of plastic. Rini states that “the problem begins the moment fossil fuels are extracted to produce single-use plastics (SUP).”  

Fighting False Solutions to Plastic Pollution

In recent years, several false solutions have been offered to counteract the plastic crisis,  from burning waste to “chemical recycling,” which in no way addresses the full lifecycle of plastic. 

For Sonia Mendoza, Chairman of Mother Earth Foundation in the Philippines, “Each country should be responsible for the waste it generates and not export them under the guise of ‘trade’. Burning waste is not an option as well. WTE could as well mean “waste of energy.”

Looking at the current end life of SUPs, Xuan Quach, Vietnam Zero Waste Alliance chairman, highlights that, “WTE and chemical recycling are not sustainable.” To which, Nindhita Proboretno of Nexus 3 Foundation in Indonesia adds,  “Those technologies are not environment-friendly solutions and have no place in a world struggling against climate change.”  

Xavier Sun,  organizer of the Taiwan Zero Waste Alliance, agrees, stating that such strategies only  “cause further toxic pollution (such as bottom ash, fly ash, and greenhouse gases (GHGs) that damages our climate and human health. Additionally, they encourage further plastic production, and undermine real solutions.”

Moving toward Zero Waste

Meanwhile, Merci Ferrer of War on Waste-Break Free From Plastic (WOW-BFFP) – Negros Oriental in the Philippines, adds that “This  process with OC would bring justice and recognition to the work of communities engaged in Zero Waste work.”

Summarizing the sentiments of all key leaders, Nalini Shekar of Hasiru Dala in India, adds, “The report has influenced decision makers to divert valuable resources meant for decentralized Zero Waste solutions to centralized, highly-mechanical unsustainable practices and caused other harm to communities. However, the report retraction is a step towards healing and reversing the damages done –  showing once again that Zero Waste is the only sustainable solution.”


About GAIA – GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries. With our work, we aim to catalyze a global shift towards environmental justice by strengthening grassroots social movements that advance solutions to waste and pollution. We envision a just, Zero Waste world built on respect for ecological limits and community rights, where people are free from the burden of toxic pollution, and resources are sustainably conserved, not burned or dumped. 

Media Contacts:

Sonia Astudillo, GAIA Asia Pacific Senior Communications Officer  | sonia@no-burn.org | +63 9175969286


Bahasa Indonesia:

Kemajuan Bersejarah dalam Perang Melawan Kolonialisme Sampah

Ocean Conservancy berkomitmen untuk bekerja sama dengan GAIA Network untuk mengatasi kerugian yang terjadi pada masyarakat yang terdampak

14 September 2022 – Kemarin, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pasifik dan anggotanya telah menyelesaikan langkah pertama dari proses keadilan restoratif dengan Ocean Conservancy (OC) organisasi yang berbasis di AS. Proses ini bertujuan untuk mengatasi kerugian yang sudah bertahun-tahun  yang ditimbulkan oleh laporan “Stemming the Tide” (saat ini sudah dihapus dari situs web OC) dengan mengoreksi narasi, dan menyepakati tindakan restoratif yang diminta oleh masyarakat dan sektor yang paling terkena dampak atas laporan tersebut.

Berbeda dengan tahun 2015, dimana lima negara Asia (China, Indonesia, Filipina, Thailand, dan Vietnam) dinobatkan sebagai negara yang bertanggung jawab atas sampah plastik namun mengabaikan peran negara-negara Global Utara dalam produksi plastik dan ekspor sampah yang berlebihan, saat ini proses keadilan restoratif mengarah ke kesepakatan baru. Kesepakatan termasuk memprioritaskan keb akan pengurangan plastik, mentransfer sumber daya ke solusi Zero Waste, menolak solusi palsu seperti pembakaran plastik yang disebut insinerator “Waste to Energy”, daur ulang bahan kimia’, dan mekanisme akuntabilitas.

Pencabutan laporan yang belum pernah terjadi sebelumnya ini untuk menginterupsi puluhan tahun kolonialisme sampah,” kata Froilan Grate, Koordinator GAIA Asia Pasifik. “Ocean Conservancy berada dalam posisi untuk meningkatkan kesadaran di antara organisasi dan pembuat keb akan lain tentang narasi palsu yang disebarkan oleh laporan tersebut. Kami meminta kepada semua organisasi untuk mematuhi prinsip-prinsip pengorganisasian yang demokratis ketika berinteraksi dengan masyarakat di negara-negara Global South, dan untuk menghormati solusi yang didasarkan pada situasi nyata masyarakat lokal,” tambah Grate mendorong para advokat untuk memperkuat proses keadilan restoratif.

Pertama kali diciptakan pada tahun 1989, kolonialisme sampah adalah proses di mana negara-negara kaya dan maju menunjukkan dominasi atas negara-negara kurang berkembang lainnya melalui ekspor limbah beracun, membiarkan negara-negara penerima

(dan seringkali, tidak dilengkapi teknologi yang baik) untuk menangani limbah, dengan demikian mempengaruhi dalam memperparah dampak yang dialami masyarakat dan lingkungan mereka.

Christie Keith, Koordinator Internasional GAIA, menjelaskan, “Lima negara Asia yang disebutkan dalam laporan tidak dapat disalahkan atas sampah plastik. Kesalahan itu terletak pada perusahaan yang membuat dan mendorong jumlah plastik yang terus meningkat – dan mereka yang berjuang untuk solusi Zero Waste Community layak untuk dihargai dan dirayakan, bukan diserang. Kami menyambut baik komitmen OC untuk memperbaiki kerusakan yang terjadi, dan meningkatkan solusi Zero Waste, ” ujarnya.

Aditi Varshneya, GAIA AS Koordinator Keanggotaan, menambahkan, “‘Stemming the Tide juga merugikan masyarakat dengan lebih dari satu cara. Temuan laporan tersebut telah merusak upaya masyarakat lokal untuk mencapai keb akan berkelanjutan tentang kesehatan, pengelolaan limbah, dan pendanaan,” tambahnya.

Rahyang Nusantara dari Aliansi Zero Waste Indonesia juga menekankan bahwa, “Laporan (‘Stemming the Tide’) telah merugikan komunitas kami tetapi kami bukan korban karena kami memiliki solusinya.” Begitu juga dengan David Sutasurya dari Yaksa Pelestari Bumi Berkelanjutan (YPBB), dia menambahkan, “Kami memiliki solusi Zero Waste untuk mengatasi sampah.” David menjelaskan bahwa pada tahun pertama daerah percontohan Zero Waste YPBB di Kota Bandung dan kabupaten-kabupaten tersebut berhasil mengalihkan 950 kg sampah dari tempat pembuangan sampah setiap hari dan berhasil menghemat sekitar Rp 63 juta (USD 4.300) untuk biaya transportasi sampah.

Sementara itu, menurut Satyarupa Shekhar, Koordinator gerakan #breakfreefromplastic Asia Pasifik, “Laporan OC, yang disusun oleh McKinsey & Company, sebuah perusahaan konsultan manajemen global yang kliennya mencakup beberapa pencemar plastik terbesar di dunia, melemahkan pembatasan penggunaan teknologi insinerator yang ada dan membuka pintu untuk solusi palsu dan perbaikan teknologi kontroversial untuk menangani krisis polusi plastik,” jelasnya. Satyarupa memaparkan beberapa contoh mencolok adalah: di Filipina, di mana larangan nasional terhadap insinerator terancam oleh proposal baru yang mengizinkan pembangkit listrik tenaga sampah menjadi energi, dan di Indonesia, di mana pemerintah terus mendorong insinerasi sampah meskipun keputusan Mahkamah Agung telah mencabut Perpres No. 18/2016, yang mempercepat pembangunan pembangkit listrik berbasis sampah atau insinerator.

Selain mencabut laporan tersebut, OC mengakui kesalahannya yang hanya fokus pada manajemen pengelolaan sampah plastik dan mempertimbangkan waste-to-energy atau insinerasi dan teknologi serupa lainnya untuk menangani krisis sampah plastik yang sedang berkembang. OC juga mengakui kesalahannya karena tidak melihat apa yang sudah dikerjakan oleh masyarakat lokal dan bagaimana dampaknya terhadap mereka akibat laporan tersebut.

Menyambut perubahan posisi OC, Aileen Lucero dari Ecowaste Coalition di Filipina dan Daru Rini dari ECOTON di Indonesia mengilustrasikan bahwa krisis plastik saat ini bukanlah hanya masalah manajemen pengelolaan sampah saja, melainkan masalah yang harus diatasi dengan melihat seluruh siklus hidup plastik. “Masalah dimulai saat bahan bakar fosil diekstraksi untuk menghasilkan plastik sekali pakai (PSP),” pungkas Daru.

Memerangi Solusi Palsu terhadap Pencemaran Plastik

Dalam beberapa tahun terakhir, beberapa solusi palsu telah ditawarkan untuk melawan krisis plastik, mulai dari pembakaran sampah hingga ‘daur ulang bahan kimia’, yang sama sekali tidak membahas siklus hidup plastik secara penuh.

Bagi Sonia Mendoza, Ketua Mother Earth Foundation di Filipina, “Setiap negara harus bertanggung jawab atas limbah yang dihasilkannya dan tidak mengekspornya dengan kedok ‘perdagangan’. Membakar sampah juga bukan pilihan. Waste to Energy (WtE) juga bisa berarti: pemborosan energi.

Melihat umur akhir PSP saat ini, Xuan Quach, ketua Vietnam Zero Waste Alliance, menyoroti bahwa, “WtE dan daur ulang bahan kimia tidak berkelanjutan.” Untuk itu, Nindhita Proboretno dari Nexus 3 Foundation di Indonesia menambahkan, “Teknologi tersebut bukanlah teknologi yang ramah lingkungan dan tidak memiliki tempat di dunia manapun yang saat ini berjuang melawan perubahan iklim.

Senada dengan Nindhita, Xavier Sun, pengurus Taiwan Zero Waste Alliance, menyatakan bahwa “Strategi seperti itu hanya menyebabkan polusi beracun lebih lanjut (seperti bottom ash, fly ash, dan gas rumah kaca (GRK) yang merusak iklim dan kesehatan manusia. Selain itu, mereka mendorong produksi plastik lebih lanjut, dan merusak solusi nyata.”

Bergerak menuju Zero Waste

Sementara itu, Merci Ferrer dari War on Waste-Break Free From Plastic (WOW-BFFP) -Negros Oriental di Filipina, menambahkan bahwa “Proses dengan OC ini akan membawa keadilan dan pengakuan atas pekerjaan masyarakat yang terlibat dalam pekerjaan Zero Waste.

Merangkum sentimen dari semua key leaders, Nalini Shekar dari Hasiru Dala di India, menambahkan, “Laporan tersebut telah mempengaruhi para pengambil keputusan untuk mengalihkan sumber daya berharga yang dimaksudkan untuk solusi Zero Waste yang terdesentralisasi menjadi terpusat, praktik tidak berkelanjutan yang sangat mekanis dan menyebabkan kerugian lain bagi masyarakat. Namun, pencabutan laporan adalah langkah menuju penyembuhan dan membalikkan kerusakan yang dilakukan – menunjukkan sekali lagi bahwa Zero Waste adalah satu-satunya solusi yang berkelanjutan.


Tentang GAIA – GAIA adalah aliansi di seluruh dunia yang terdiri dari lebih dari 800 kelompok, organisasi non-pemerintah, dan individu di lebih dari 90 negara. Dengan pekerjaan kami, kami bertujuan untuk mengkatalisasi perubahan global menuju keadilan lingkungan dengan memperkuat gerakan sosial akar rumput yang memajukan solusi untuk limbah dan polusi. Kami membayangkan dunia tanpa limbah yang adil yang dibangun dengan menghormati batas ekologis dan hak-hak masyarakat, di mana orang bebas dari beban polusi beracun, dan sumber daya dilestarikan secara berkelanjutan, tidak dibakar atau dibuang.

Kontak Media:

Sonia Astudillo, Senior Staf Komunikasi GAIA Asia Pasifik | sonia@no-burn.org | +63 9175969286

Vancher, staf komunikasi AZWI | vancher@aliansizerowaste.id | +62 812-8854-9493

Kia, staf komunikasi AZWI | kia@aliansizerowaste.id | +62 852-1580-9537



Bước nhảy vọt lịch sử trong cuộc chiến chống chủ nghĩa thực dân chất thải

Ngày 14 tháng 9 năm 2022 – Hôm nay, Liên minh Toàn cầu về Giải pháp Thay thế Lò đốt (GAIA) ở Châu Á Thái Bình Dương và các tổ chức thành viên của nó đã kết thúc bước đầu tiên của quy trình phục hồi công lý với tổ chức Ocean Conservancy (OC) có trụ sở tại Hoa Kỳ. Quy trình này nhằm mục đích giải quyết những thiệt hại trong nhiều năm do báo cáo “Stemming the Tide” gây ra (hiện đã bị xóa khỏi trang web của OC) bằng cách sửa lại câu chuyện và đồng ý thực hiện các hành động phục hồi theo yêu cầu của cộng đồng và các lĩnh vực bị ảnh hưởng nhiều nhất bởi báo cáo.

Trái ngược với báo cáo năm 2015 đặt trách nhiệm về rác thải nhựa lên vai 5 quốc gia châu Á (Trung Quốc, Indonesia, Philippines, Thái Lan và Việt Nam) trong khi bỏ qua vai trò của các nước phát triển trong việc sản xuất thừa nhựa và xuất khẩu chất thải, quá trình này đang dẫn đến điểm chung mới. Các thỏa thuận bao gồm ưu tiên các chính sách giảm thiểu nhựa, chuyển nguồn lực sang các giải pháp Không Chất thải, lên án các giải pháp sai lầm như đốt nhựa trong cái gọi là lò đốt “biến chất thải thành năng lượng” (WTE) và “tái chế hóa chất” và cơ chế trách nhiệm.

Froilan Grate, Điều phối viên GAIA Châu Á Thái Bình Dương chia sẻ: “Việc rút lại báo cáo chưa từng có tiền lệ này là một cơ hội để ngăn chặn chủ nghĩa thực dân chất thải nhiều thập kỷ qua”. “Ocean Conservancy có nhiệm vụ nâng cao nhận thức của các tổ chức và nhà hoạch định chính sách khác về câu chuyện sai sự thật được tuyên truyền bởi báo cáo. Chúng tôi kêu gọi tất cả các tổ chức tuân thủ các nguyên tắc tổ chức dân chủ khi tương tác với các cộng đồng ở các nước đang phát triển và tôn trọng các giải pháp dựa trên tình hình thực tế của cộng đồng”. Grate khuyến khích những người ủng hộ củng cố quy trình phục hồi công lý.

Được hình thành lần đầu tiên vào năm 1989, chủ nghĩa thực dân chất thải là quá trình các nước giàu và phát triển thể hiện sự thống trị so với các nước kém phát triển khác thông qua việc xuất khẩu chất thải độc hại, khiến các nước tiếp nhận (và thường là thiếu cơ sở hạ tầng) phải đối phó với chất thải, do đó ảnh hưởng nghiêm trọng tới cộng đồng và môi trường của họ.

Christie Keith, Điều phối viên Quốc tế của GAIA, giải thích, “Năm quốc gia châu Á được đề cập trong báo cáo không nên bị đổ lỗi cho rác thải nhựa. Lỗi đó nằm ở các tập đoàn đã sản xuất và đưa lượng nhựa ra môi trường ngày càng tăng – và những người đấu tranh cho các giải pháp không rác cộng đồng (Zero Waste Community) xứng đáng được tôn vinh và trân trọng, chứ không phải bị tấn công. Chúng tôi hoan nghênh cam kết của OC trong việc khắc phục những tác hại đã gây ra và đề cao các giải pháp Không Chất thải.”

Aditi Varshneya, Điều phối viên Thành viên GAIA Hoa Kỳ, cho biết thêm, “Stemming the Tide” cũng gây hại cho cộng đồng theo nhiều cách. Các phát hiện của báo cáo đã làm suy yếu những nỗ lực lâu dài của cộng đồng nhằm đạt được các chính sách bền vững về y tế, quản lý chất thải và tài trợ”.

Rahyang Nusantara của Aliansi Zero Waste Indonesia nhấn mạnh rằng, “Báo cáo (‘ Stemming the Tide ’) đã gây hại cho cộng đồng của chúng tôi nhưng chúng tôi không phải là nạn nhân vì chúng tôi có các giải pháp.” David Sutasurya của Yaksa Pelestari Bumi Berkelanjutan (YPBB) cho biết thêm, “Chúng tôi có các giải pháp Không Chất thải để chống lại chất thải”. Sutasurya chia sẻ rằng trong năm đầu tiên của các khu vực thí điểm ở Bandung, các quận đã chuyển thành công 950 kg rác khỏi các bãi chôn lấp mỗi ngày và tiết kiệm được khoảng 63 triệu IDR (4.300 USD) chi phí vận chuyển rác.

Theo Satyarupa Shekhar, Điều phối viên Châu Á Thái Bình Dương của phong trào #breakfreefromplastic, “Báo cáo của OC, được soạn thảo bởi McKinsey & Company, một công ty tư vấn quản lý toàn cầu có khách hàng bao gồm một số nhà gây ô nhiễm nhựa hàng đầu thế giới, đã làm loãng các hạn chế hiện có về đốt rác và mở ra cánh cửa cho các giải pháp sai lầm và các bản sửa lỗi công nghệ gây tranh cãi để đối phó với cuộc khủng hoảng ô nhiễm nhựa. Một số ví dụ rõ ràng là: ở Philippines, nơi mà lệnh cấm đốt rác trên toàn quốc bị đe dọa bởi các đề xuất mới cho phép các nhà máy đốt rác phát điện và ở Indonesia, nơi chính phủ tiếp tục thúc đẩy đốt rác bất chấp phán quyết của Tòa án Tối cao đã thu hồi Quy định của Tổng thống số 18/2016, trong đó đẩy nhanh sự phát triển của các nhà máy điện hoặc lò đốt rác thải.”

Bên cạnh việc rút lại báo cáo, OC thừa nhận sai lầm của mình trong việc tập trung vào quản lý chất thải nhựa và xem xét lại quan điểm của mình về đốt rác phát điện và các công nghệ tương tự khác để đối phó với cuộc khủng hoảng chất thải nhựa đang gia tăng. OC cũng đã thừa nhận lỗi của mình khi không xem xét công việc của các cộng đồng địa phương và những ảnh hưởng sau đó của báo cáo đối với họ.

Hoan nghênh sự thay đổi quan điểm của OC, Aileen Lucero của Liên minh Ecowaste ở Philippines và Daru Rini của ECOTON ở Indonesia đã minh họa rằng cuộc khủng hoảng nhựa hiện nay không phải là vấn đề quản lý chất thải, mà thay vào đó, vấn đề cần được giải quyết bằng cách xem xét toàn bộ vòng đời của nhựa. Rini nói rằng, “vấn đề bắt đầu từ thời điểm nhiên liệu hóa thạch được chiết xuất để sản xuất nhựa sử dụng một lần (SUP).”

Chống lại các giải pháp sai lầm đối với ô nhiễm nhựa

Trong những năm gần đây, một số giải pháp sai lầm đã được đưa ra để chống lại cuộc khủng hoảng nhựa, từ đốt chất thải đến “tái chế hóa học”, chúng không giải quyết được toàn bộ vòng đời của nhựa.

Đối với Sonia Mendoza, Chủ tịch Quỹ Đất Mẹ tại Philippines, “Mỗi quốc gia phải chịu trách nhiệm về chất thải mà mình tạo ra và không xuất khẩu chúng dưới chiêu bài‘ thương mại ’. Đốt chất thải cũng không phải là một lựa chọn. Biến chất thải thành năng lượng (đốt rác phát điện) cũng có thể có nghĩa là: lãng phí năng lượng.”

Nhìn vào vòng đời của nhựa dùng một lần, Xuân Quách, Điều phối viên Liên minh Không rác Việt Nam, nhấn mạnh rằng “Đốt rác phát điện và tái chế hóa chất không bền vững”. Nindhita Proboretno thuộc Tổ chức Nexus 3 ở Indonesia cho biết thêm, “Những công nghệ đó không phải là giải pháp thân thiện với môi trường và không có chỗ đứng trong một thế giới đang đấu tranh chống lại biến đổi khí hậu”.

Xavier Sun, người sáng lập Liên minh Không chất thải Đài Loan, đồng ý, nói rằng các chiến lược như vậy chỉ “gây ra ô nhiễm độc hại hơn nữa (chẳng hạn như tro bụi, tro bay và khí nhà kính (GHG) gây hại cho khí hậu và sức khỏe con người của chúng ta. Ngoài ra, chúng khuyến khích tiếp tục sản xuất nhựa, và phá hoại các giải pháp thực sự.”

Hướng tới Không Chất Thải

Trong khi đó, Merci Ferrer chiến binh của Chống Rác thải (WOW-BFFP) – Negros Oriental ở Philippines, nói thêm rằng “Quá trình này với OC sẽ mang lại công lý và sự công nhận cho công việc của các cộng đồng tham gia vào công việc Không Chất thải”.

Tóm tắt ý kiến của tất cả các nhà lãnh đạo chủ chốt, Nalini Shekar của Hasiru Dala ở Ấn Độ cho biết thêm, “Báo cáo Stemming the Tide của OC đã ảnh hưởng đến các nhà hoạch định chính sách để chuyển hướng các nguồn lực có giá trị dành cho các giải pháp Zero Waste phi tập trung sang các hoạt động không bền vững tập trung, mang tính cơ học cao và gây ra những tổn hại khác cho cộng đồng. Tuy nhiên, việc rút lại báo cáo là một bước hướng tới việc chữa lành và khắc phục những thiệt hại đã gây ra – một lần nữa cho thấy rằng Zero Waste là giải pháp bền vững duy nhất”.


GAIA là một liên minh trên toàn thế giới gồm hơn 800 nhóm cơ sở, tổ chức phi chính phủ và cá nhân tại hơn 90 quốc gia. Với công việc của mình, chúng tôi đặt mục tiêu thúc đẩy sự thay đổi toàn cầu hướng tới công bằng môi trường bằng cách tăng cường các phong trào xã hội cấp cơ sở nhằm thúc đẩy các giải pháp chống lãng phí và ô nhiễm. Chúng tôi hình dung một thế giới công bằng, không rác thải được xây dựng dựa trên sự tôn trọng các giới hạn sinh thái và quyền của cộng đồng, nơi mọi người không phải chịu gánh nặng ô nhiễm độc hại và các nguồn tài nguyên được bảo tồn bền vững, không bị đốt cháy hoặc đổ bỏ.