A Historic Leap in the Fight Against Waste Colonialism

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

###

Vietnamese

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.

Para su publicación inmediata: jueves 15 de septiembre de 2022.

Un nuevo informe publicado por miembros de la Alianza Global por Alternativas a la Incineración, GAIA, de México, Ecuador, Chile y Argentina expone las cifras más actuales de importación y exportación de residuos plásticos hacia América Latina. El reporte investigativo contiene información crítica e inédita sobre las importaciones de residuos plásticos que están ingresando a países de América Latina, alertando nuevamente sobre la necesidad de reducir la producción de plásticos y de que cada país gestione sus residuos dentro de sus fronteras.

Estados Unidos nuevamente lidera la exportación de plásticos a América Latina y el Caribe, enviando más de 200 mil toneladas de residuos plásticos a la región entre 2020 y 2021.  Algunos de los principales países receptores fueron México y Ecuador que pasaron de recibir 63 mil toneladas durante el 2020 a 84 mil durante el 2021, y de 6.745 toneladas en 2019 a 8.253 toneladas en 2020 respectivamente. 

Residuos plásticos exportados desde EE.UU a Latinoamérica bajo la Partida 3915 periodo 2020-2021
México147.897  toneladas 
El Salvador20.975 toneladas 
Ecuador12.791 toneladas 
Las fuentes de información para el desarrollo de la investigación de nuestros miembros fueron bases de datos de Datasur, aduanas, Sistema de Información Arancelaria Vía Internet (SIAVI) y consultas a ministerios locales.
Únicos registros oficiales públicos, hasta la fecha, sobre la importación de desechos plásticos en Ecuador. Imagen de una de las inspeciones realizadas en 2021 entre el Ministerio de Ambiente y el Senae. Foto: Cortesía MAE.

El 1 de enero del año 2021 se hizo efectiva la Enmienda de plásticos del Convenio de Basilea, que obliga a los países que deseen exportar plásticos contaminados o mezclados, o que no tengan como destino principal el reciclaje ambientalmente racional, a solicitar consentimiento previo al país receptor, no obstante, no se ha reflejado aún una clara disminución en el flujo de residuos plásticos, lo que es una señal alarmante sobre el cumplimiento de los compromisos internacionales de cada país. Por ejemplo en México, el movimiento internacional de desechos desde y hacia México, incluso ha incrementado. Además, mucho del plástico que ha ingresado como destinado al reciclaje, y que por lo tanto no necesita el consentimiento previo estipulado en la Enmienda de plásticos, ha llegado contaminado o es imposible de reciclar en el país de destino. 

Los datos oficiales del gobierno mexicano indican que del año 2015 al año 2021 las importaciones de desechos plásticos a México se han triplicado, pasando de 58 mil toneladas en 2015 a 175 mil toneladas en 2021. El 94% de estos desechos plásticos provienen de los Estados Unidos de América. Nuestra preocupación es que no hay certeza del destino final de estos desechos plásticos, no sabemos si se usan para alimentar cementeras, en rellenos sanitarios, en tiraderos clandestinos. Creímos que con la entrada en vigor de la enmienda del Convenio de Basilea el movimiento de desechos plásticos entre los países se reduciría, en el caso Mexicano no fue así, el año 2021 es cuando más basura plástica ha ingresado a México. Consideramos que es necesario desmontar esa política pública que promueve a México como el vertedero de nuestro vecino del norte. Solo el poder ciudadano puede lograrlo y estamos trabajando en ello.”

José Manuel Arias de la Asociación Ecológica Santo Tomás A.C., México.

Los plásticos ingresan a cada país bajo la Partida 3915, que corresponde a una clasificación arancelaria para desechos, desperdicios y recortes de plástico; sin embargo, sus subpartidas tienen denominaciones demasiado amplias que no permiten saber exactamente qué se está importando ni el estado en el que llegan los plásticos a cada país. Pero los autores del informe indican que la gravedad del problema no pasa por solo saber cuánto y qué tipo de plástico ingresa al continente porque se trata de materiales que en todos los países se descartan cotidianamente, y que en muchos casos ya representan un problema porque no existe la infraestructura adecuada para su tratamiento, colapsan los rellenos sanitarios que ya están enfrentando una crisis o aún peor, puede conducir a propuestas de falsas soluciones como plantas incineradoras, quema en cementeras o propuestas de plástico-a-combustible. 

“Es una práctica inaceptable porque estamos hablando de un residuos considerado peligroso , con diversos impactos negativos y , que además, se manifiesta como un síntoma de un sistema ya colapsado, el cual insiste en buscar soluciones al final del ciclo de vida del plástico y no en una etapa inicial como es la  generación. Bajo esta lógica, para la región y Chile, los riesgos que se presentan son altos ya que  no están los  sistemas e infraestructura necesaria como tampoco la correcta fiscalización, lo cual permite que se generen muchas fugas a lo largo de toda la cadena, desde que el material es generado, hasta que es puesto en otro país. En función de todo esto, lo importante es monitorear, educar e incidir sobre los impactos de esta práctica a nivel social y político bajo alero de los acuerdos internacionales, como por ejemplo, la convención  de Basilea y su enmienda sobre plásticos.

Matías Roa de la Alianza Basura Cero Chile.

El informe también evidencia los vacíos de información que existen entre aduanas y las instituciones ambientales de cada país, ya que hasta el momento no existe certeza de la peligrosidad ni de las condiciones en las que están ingresando los plásticos, mucho menos se sabe sobre el destino real de cada contenedor, por eso las organizaciones urgen que se transparente antes del ingreso a cada país el detalle del proceso de reciclaje que se pretende realizar, el destino final para poder identificar re-exportaciones (efecto pivote) y llenar cualquier otro vacío respecto al uso de los residuos importados. La razón principal de la falta de coordinación entre entidades, según señalan, sería que el ingreso desmedido de plásticos al continente es de orden económico y no ambiental ni de salud pública. 

“En Ecuador, la importación de desechos plásticos como “materia prima”, está siendo justificada bajo el discurso de economía circular pese a que va en contra del Convenio de Basilea, del acuerdo 061, del art. 227 del Código Orgánico del Ambiental y de varias leyes orgánicas. Se trata de un discurso que pretende “blanquear” el imperialismo de la basura utilizando subterfugios lingüísticos. En esta línea, la “dispensa temporal” se ha convertido en la figura que deja la puerta abierta para que el incumplimiento de las enmiendas de plástico y prohibición del Convenio de Basilea se dé con venia del Estado en un país que no tiene escasez de desechos plásticos y que, por el contrario, entierra en malas condiciones, el 96% de sus residuos. Las cifras de esta expresión colonial son escandalosas: en promedio, cada año se importan alrededor de 13.000 toneladas de desechos plásticos a un costo de más de cinco millones de dólares. Pagamos por recibir la basura, especialmente de los EEUU, perversa aporía.”

María Fernanda Soliz, directora del área de salud de la Universidad Simón Bolívar Ecuador y Alianza basura cero Ecuador.

Concluyen además que los esfuerzos globales para detener el comercio de residuos plásticos deben estar orientados a la disminución en la generación de residuos como objetivo principal, no solo a mejorar los controles aduaneros, al igual que establecer prohibiciones para que países desarrollados envíen sus residuos a aquellos más pobres y con legislaciones débiles. En este sentido, las negociaciones para alcanzar un Tratado global de plásticos jurídicamente vinculante representa una gran oportunidad para avanzar en la resolución de los problemas ambientales, sociales y económicos provocados en todas las etapas del ciclo de los plásticos.

Informe disponible en: https://bit.ly/GAIAplasticos2022

Organizaciones que realizaron informes:

Alianza Basura Cero Chile, Alianza Basura Cero Ecuador, Taller Ecologista, Argentina, Acción Ecológica, Fronteras Comunes, Asociación Ecológica Santo Tomás; México.

Contactos:

  • Camila Aguilera, Alianza Global por Alternativas a la Incineración (GAIA) en América Latina, camila@no-burn.org, +56 951111599 
  • Claire Arkin, Alianza Global por Alternativas a la Incineración (GAIA), claire@no-burn.org, +1 973 444 4869  (en EE.UU)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 22 JUNE, 2022

Civil society organizations, including the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and Break Free from Plastic, are calling on leaders in the U.S. and Africa to stop waste colonialism—the illegal importing of waste from countries in the Global North to African nations already impacted by the waste and climate crises. 

Their demand letter was first introduced at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention in Geneva, Switzerland, the first of a series of negotiations following the March adoption at UNEA-5 of a global, legally-binding treaty addressing the full lifecycle of plastics.

The U.S. is one of only three countries that have not ratified the Basel Convention, which prohibits the export of hazardous waste from OECD countries (primarily wealthier nations) to non-OECD countries (primarily low-income countries in the Global South). Recent research from the Basel Action Network found that U.S. ports exported 150 tons of PVC waste to Nigeria in 2021, in violation of the Convention. Many of the exporting ports are located in environmental justice communities, which like their counterparts in Africa are impacted by the waste and climate crises. 

“Whatever waste is not burned in our communities is being illegally sent to relatives and grassroots partners in the global South,” says Chris Tandazo, Community Connections Program Coordinator at New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance. “Fighting for waste justice here would mean waste justice for communities in the Global South. We cannot allow the white supremacist colonial practice of dumping waste in low-income and communities of color to continue. We will continue to organize against polluting industries at home, and globally.”

Rather than stopping plastic pollution at its source, waste colonialism encourages waste management approaches that create severe health implications for workers, communities and the environment by generating significant amounts of greenhouse gases, toxic air pollutants, highly toxic ash, and other potentially hazardous residues. This includes waste incineration, chemical “recycling”, plastic-to-fuel or plastic-to-chemical processes, pyrolysis, and gasification.

“Colonialism is alive and fully functioning in the ways that waste, toxicants, and end-of-life products produced by and for overdeveloped societies move to Indigenous lands,” says Dr. Max Liboiron, director of the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR) at Memorial University, Canada. “Without access to other people’s lands and waters, the economic systems of overdeveloped countries simply don’t work. This assumed access to other’s lands and waters is colonialism.”

“Nigeria is already overwhelmed with plastic waste—we barely have enough facilities to recycle internally generated plastics in Nigeria,” says Weyinmi Okotie, Intervention Officer of Green Knowledge Foundation (GKF) Nigeria. “I’m urging the Federal Government of Nigeria to sign the Bamako convention on toxic waste, as it will be an effective legal tool in stemming the importation of toxic wastes into Africa.”  

“Ensuring that countries manage their own waste is the best way to prevent global environmental injustice. It is also essential for countries to truly come to terms with their waste footprint rather than shipping it off in containers. Once countries fully realize the absurdity of wasting precious materials and resources, harming the planet, our climate, and human health in the process, they become ready to shift to local zero waste economies centered around reuse, repair and composting of bio-waste,” says Sirine Rached, Global Plastics Policy Coordinator for the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). 

Media Contact:

Zoë Beery, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternative
zoe@no-burn.org

For more information, see no-burn.org/stopwastecolonialism. 

###

Contact

Claire Arkin, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), claire@no-burn.org 

###

Kenya Waste Pickers, in Nairobi, at  Dandora Dumpsite (2022)

The term decolonisation describes the process of indigenous people achieving sovereignty over their land, culture, political and economic systems. African countries have largely achieved political independence from colonial powers, and have attempted to dismantle political systems and symbols of oppression. Sadly, in the 21st century, we are facing a new wave of neo-colonialism from Multinational Corporations. 

Colonial settler objectives are rooted in principles of gaining control and exploiting indigenous territories. Likewise, corporations have taken over public space, destroyed consumer choice and displaced individuals from their traditional mechanisms of subsistence. 

In the waste sector, colonialism is evident in several ways. It can be described as the export of waste from economically powerful countries to lower-income countries, where there is a clear lack of infrastructure to manage problematic waste streams. This is further compounded by the double standards that corporates have by sending cheap, single-use products to African countries- under the guise of development while boasting effective sustainable waste management practices where they operate in the Global North. Petrochemical plants which are part of the plastic production process are often placed in poorer communities at the expense of their health and wellbeing. Waste colonialism is also evident when corporations propose false solutions like Waste-To-Energy incineration (WTE), which disregards and will displace waste pickers and their contribution to the local economy. Fundamentally, these practices of waste colonialism treat people as disposable and that is unacceptable.

In Ghana, a German company McDavid Green Solutions has proposed to construct a facility in the Ashanti region.3  Waste workers in Ghana have helped increase waste management services across the 261 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to 80%, across the country.4 A facility like this risks displacing waste workers who are integral to the country’s waste management system. Since there is a high level of organic waste in the African waste stream, in order to meet the quotas of waste needed to be burnt to make incinerators financially feasible, it would need recyclable materials to be burnt as well.

The way forward |

We need African governments to:

  • Uphold existing legislation like the Basel and Bamako conventions, which prohibit the illegal exportation of waste from economically powerful countries. 
  • Invest in the ongoing discussions around a global plastic treaty, and ensure this mandate reflects the local plastic pollution realities within the region and attempts are made to address the problems of plastic across its entire value chain with significant emphasis on slowing down production.
  • Avoid false solutions like WTE, and rather empower individuals with local solutions to waste management by adopting zero waste practices. 

Last year we commemorated  Africa Day on the 25 May 2021, by releasing a solidarity video on Waste Colonialism.  This year we continued creating awareness on the different impacts and forms of waste colonialism by holding an online meeting with our African member organisations, with presentations from expert speakers. In addition to the online meeting, we developed a sign-on letter on waste colonialism directed to African government, which was launched on 01 June 2022.  

To quote Griffins Ochieng, director of the Centre for Environmental Justice and Development in Kenya: “When waste is within your boundaries, it is your responsibility to deal with it, and assess how you manage this waste. You don’t export this to other countries to live with your problem.”

Ends 

GAIA and its members are fighting to end Global North plastic waste dumping in Global South countries, and advocating Basel Convention leadership for a worldwide shift towards localized zero waste economies that foster sharply reduced plastic production, discourage false solutions like so-called “chemical recycling,” and end plastic waste burning, which poisons people and planet and harms our climate. 

For more information on the Global Plastics Treaty, visit our webpage.


Policy Brief: Plastics at Basel COP 15

Three years after the Basel Convention COP14 adopted the plastic waste trade amendments that came into force in January 2021, the global plastic waste trade has shifted but remains a cause of environmental injustice, with communities and ecosystems in importing countries bearing a disproportionate portion of the toxic burden associated with the dumping, burning and environmentally-unsound recycling of plastic waste.

Chemical Recycling: Status, Sustainability, and Environmental Impacts

This technical assessment reveals that chemical recycling is polluting, energy intensive, and has a track record of technical failures, and concludes that it is impossible for chemical recycling to be a viable solution in the short window of time left to solve the plastic problem, especially at the scale needed.

waste beach
Comments on the Plastic Waste Technical Guidelines

Comments on the Basel Convention Draft Updated Technical Guidelines on the Environmentally Sound Management of Plastic Wastes and for their Disposal Submitted by Basel Action Network, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Environmental Investigation Agency

Additional Resources

Policy Brief: Plastics Treaty and Waste Trade

Top exporters such as the United States, Germany, the UK, Japan and Australia are placing a disproportionate toxic burden on the environment and communities in importing countries. A Global Plastics Treaty can enact stricter measures on the waste trade to prevent environmental injustices.

Mr Yoga, (left) poses for a portrait with his wife and daughter amongst imported plastic waste at his recycling factory in Bangun Village, near Gresik, Surabaya, Indonesia on 22nd February, 2019.

Investigative Report: Discarded– Communities on the Frontlines of the Global Plastic Crisis

When China closed its borders to foreign waste in 2018, countries in Southeast Asia were flooded with garbage masquerading as recycling, primarily from wealthy countries in the Global North. This investigative report uncovers how communities on the ground were impacted by the sudden influx of foreign pollution, and how they’re fighting back.

Between January and August 2020, the United States shipped 44,173 tons of plastic waste, the same tonnage as almost 300 blue whales, to 15 Latin American countries, approximately 35 containers per day. An investigative report by GAIA LAC (Latin America and the Caribbean) members reveals the untold story of how the United States is exporting its plastic problems to Latin America–disregarding international and national laws–and the harm that it’s causing to the Latin American people and environment. 

Policy Brief: Transposing the Basel Convention plastic waste amendments

Before April 2019, most plastic waste flows between countries were uncontrolled under international law. Exporters only had to obtain prior informed consent from importing countries before shipping hazardous plastic waste, as is the case for all hazardous waste under the Basel Convention. However, companies in high-income countries have been exporting mixed, heavily-contaminated and
often unrecyclable plastic waste abroad in order to avoid paying to properly manage it locally.

Basel Action Network: Plastic Waste Transparency Project

Here, activists, policy makers, academics and industry stakeholders can find up-to-date information on the global trade in plastic waste, the countries and actors engaged in it, as well as campaign information to combat the unsustainable trade in plastic waste.

#StopShippingPlasticWaste

Waste trade is the international trade of waste between countries for further treatment, disposal, or recycling. Often, toxic or hazardous wastes are exported by developed countries to developing countries, such as those in Asia-Pacific. Since 1988, more than a quarter of a billion tonnes of plastic waste has been exported around the world. In 2021, a report by the Environmental Investigative Agency and Rethink Plastic found that if the world is serious about tackling marine plastic pollution, waste trade issues must be addressed, alongside other solutions.

IPEN: Basel Convention Resources

Policy briefs and other resources pertaining to the Basel Convention.

Comments on the Draft Updated. Technical Guidelines on the Environmentally Sound Management pf Plastic Wastes and for their Disposal

GAIA and Basel Action Network recommend that the SIWG and the consultants supporting its work focus on improving these draft guidelines in the was outlined on this publication.

EARTH Thailand: Banking on citizen science towards environmental activism and protection

Interview with Penchom Saetang by Sonia G. Astudillo and Dan Abril

Filing an EIA lawsuit. Photo courtesy of EARTH Thailand

For Penchom Saetang, Executive Director of EARTH Thailand, it all started in the 1991 chemical explosion in the port of Klong Toey in Bangkok that ripped chemical warehouses and shanties in the area.  With over 23 kinds of chemicals stored in the warehouses and a newly established military government, “the Thai officers could not handle the explosion, nor identify the kind and volume of chemicals present.”

Together with like-minded friends, Penchom organized a public seminar to explore the situation and demand the government to release information about the explosion and provide assistance to the victims.  By the end of 1991, a Toxic Chemical Committee was formed to assist victims, discuss industrialization issues, assess existing industrial policies, and provide support for banning hazardous chemicals. 

From the committee, this Liberal Arts and Journalism graduate, set up the Campaign for Alternative Industrial Network (CAIN) in 1998 and eleven years later in 2009, CAIN gave way to Ecological Alert and Recovery or simply, EARTH Thailand which was registered as a foundation. 

From 3 to 4 staff, EARTH now has 10 regular employees and while it has the same objectives and mission as CAIN’s, the work has greatly expanded with more activities like environmental monitoring in communities, tools to analyze chemicals in the environment, and more experts in the field who can provide assistance including legal assistance to the community.

GAIA sat down with Penchom to talk about EARTH’s project, plans, challenges, and successes. 

What are EARTH Thailand’s top priorities?

We promote social and environmental justice to communities affected by bad waste management, illegal dumping, and communities that are being affected by hazardous waste recycling. We also work with communities affected by the waste trade of plastic scraps and other scraps. In 2008, the Thailand and the Japanese government were entering into a contract on economic partnership or the form of free trade agreement.  We learned that the draft bipartite contract would allow waste trade and that once we enter into the partnership, Japan can send in their waste to Thailand.  We could not stop the partnership because a number of Asian countries already signed it.  That was the first time we had a campaign against the waste trade. Since then, we wanted to know the impacts related to waste imports.  We found that Thailand imported huge volumes of plastic waste from other countries and there was an increase in this importation in 2018 when China signed the Sword Policy banning the import of plastic and other materials.

Ban Plastic.  Photo courtesy of EARTH Thailand

What are EARTH Thailand’s main and ongoing campaigns? 

We work on the waste importation issue.  This includes plastic, electronics, metal scraps, and other hazardous waste.  We are also opposing the recycling of electronics and hazardous waste and also pushing for the Basel ban amendment ratification.

There are several waste-to-energy project proposals in the country and we are opposing that too.  

We have several citizen science projects on environment, health, and reducing industrial pollution.  What we do is we provide support to communities to have environmental monitoring and sampling and support them by producing reports that they can use to push the government to solve environmental issues in the area.

We also work with partners on other issues such as mercury and sustainable development.  

What are your biggest accomplishments/achievements?

What we do is strengthen the community and give them a better solution / stronger negotiation to their problem. Our role in supporting the communities has stimulated/encouraged the actions of the environmental and health agencies.

Some concrete achievements like in 2002, we succeeded in the campaign in calling for additional health damage compensation provided to the chemical explosion victim of 1991 from the government.

We are also a part of the social movement to support the Minamata Convention and Basel Convention. We supported the government to ratify the Minamata Convention and the Thai government now had accession to the Minamata Convention. This year the government is considering ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment. And now we are campaigning to end the plastic scrap importation to Thailand and we hope it will succeed.

Using the citizen science approach, we have set up environmental monitoring activities in different communities. This can empower the communities in their fight with industrial pollution and toxic waste problems in a number of communities.

We do research to support lawsuits of communities against the hazardous waste recycling case and in 2020 one community in Ratchaburi Province which had fought for almost 20 years against the recycling company won a class-action lawsuit against the recycling company

There are three levels to our work:

  • Community which includes training, consultancy, data gathering, and simplifying information for their use in environmental movement
  • Connecting with international network such as IPEN, GAIA, and CSOs in Thailand
  • Policy Advocacy and law improvement which involves advocating for environmental law.
Photo courtesy of EARTH Thailand

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

There are many.  There are external factors such as in the earlier period of our activities, we found that we cannot coordinate with agencies such as environmental agencies that should be working on industrial pollution. There was no collaboration there.  Recently, it is getting better but still challenging because the biggest environmental policies are being dominated by industrial investors or big businesses.  It is difficult to overcome them, particularly in the legal & policy areas.

With regards to waste management, plastic waste is very challenging, especially at the policy level.  Local political parties and authorities didn’t want to enforce measures to encourage the general public to reduce plastic waste. Plastic reduction is still on a voluntary base.  We still have a lot to do to solve the plastic issue.

With environmental justice, our problem is the mentality and attitude of the government and judicial authority. The process takes a long time.  We need a platform for dialogue to change attitudes and mindsets on environmental justice.  We need to think about how we can enter into their way of thinking.  Corruption is also a big challenge.

Internally, EARTH has a big problem with staff turnover.  Most of the staff stay short term and often move to other fields such as the government or private sectors or pursue higher education.  Every time it happens, I have to start again and train new staff on how to analyze data, do advocacy work…  It is hard for us to continue working efficiently and to conduct effective campaigns. In fighting the hazardous waste and pollution issue, we still need more knowledge and technical things to strengthen our action and campaign.

The budget is also difficult because we have to raise funds.  Projects last for four years at most and we have to comply with all the requirements of the funding agencies and it is difficult to handle everything.

With the pandemic, we cannot move and do environmental monitoring, particularly in impacted areas. Project implementation could not happen and there are an increasing number of online meetings and conferences. 

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

There are big issues such as environmental contamination/deterioration by industrial pollution, the state of marginalized people and their land rights and then there are dam constructions and climate change related to deforestation.  Lots of things but now the big challenge we have in Thailand is about special economic development.  It is a  big and tough challenge for CSOs and many communities.  Thailand just declared 3 provinces under the Eastern Economic Corridor (ECC) when they will receive a special period in investment and we know those industrial investments do not always go well with environmental protection.  The government also announced more than 20 special economic zones across the country and those have all become pollution hotspots.

KhonKaen hotspot. Photo courtesy of EARTH Thailand

Farmers and agriculturists are affected, then the marginalized groups who are discriminated against under different laws but even more so with the special economic zone, and then labour groups discriminated against on their daily wage and no risk protection to chemical exposure, and then migrant workers who are the worst of.

Tha Thum Hotspot.  Photo courtesy of EARTH Thailand

These economic zones bring in big investors and corporations and all types of investments from multinational corporations.  We observe from 2018 that there have been an increasing number of waste recycling being promoted and constructed in the EEC area.  We launched a campaign against dirty recycling this 2021 and call for more regulations and measures to control toxic emissions.   Beyond air pollution, other problems from waste recycling are wastewater, land contamination, and illegal dumping.  Waste recycling is now one of the big problems of EARTH Thailand aside from WTE projects and waste dumping.

Lawsuit against dirty recycling.  Photo courtesy of EARTH Thailand

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

We try to promote the citizen scientist team to have better technical knowledge with some scientific tools which can help them provide environmental monitoring and analyzing contamination in areas, provide good reports, and teach negotiating power to communities to policy and decision-makers.

We hope to develop local communities to campaign against dirty recyclers.  We can build the citizen scientist team to provide training support and provide consultancy to affected communities.  In parallel, we have to move on and advocate for other policy changes such as the modification of the environmental laws.

We will also campaign for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and continue working on it along with the circular economy.

Photo courtesy of EARTH Thailand

Citizen science is very important because when we talk about health, the environment, and science, people have the belief that those things fall in the hands of scientists, economists, and academic institutions.  When we want to do environmental monitoring, the community doesn’t have the skill to do that.  But we have to fight environmental problems.  Citizen scientists need to work with the community.  If we don’t have a device, we can’t do anything and we can’t ask for assistance from academic institutions for free.  People need to depend on people.  If we’re fighting pollution, we need to strengthen citizen science and use our knowledge and provide support to affected communities.

Citizen science approach is used by many countries to empower the negotiation skills of the people.

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

Waste importation from the west is still happening.  Thailand and other countries in the region are targets for dumping due to corruption in these countries and the low labour cost. 

Plastic waste is related to consumption and economic “development”.  We have to keep watching this issue because it will be a big crisis in the future even if countries have policies and similar goals to reduce.  

I call this the crisis of recycling.  Low-income countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and other low-income countries in Africa are dealing with the plastic waste trade because richer countries can send their waste to them in the guise of recycling and there are no environmental regulations to control this.

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

I respect and admire those who contribute to public interest and social well being, no specific idols. I learned from some teachers and friends during my schooling and undergraduate life and I wanted to do something related to public interest like them. After graduation, I initially was not interested in environmental work.  But later, I realized that in this area, I can do something for the greater good.  

_____

Interested to support the work of EARTH Thailand?  Visit www.earththailand.org/en/

December 16th, 2021More than 70 organisations from around the world signed a public statement to reject the transboundary trade of plastic waste in Latin American countries and to demand that the United States, the main exporter of thousands of tons of plastic waste, manage its waste on its territory.

December 16th – Member organizations of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) in Latin America from Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina and Chile published significant data that showed that plastic waste exports from the United States to some Latin American countries increased by more than 100% in 2020. Mexico, El Salvador and Ecuador are the main importers of plastic imports in the region. 

Key findings:

  • According to the U.S. International free trade database, USA Trade Online, between January and August 2020, 44,173 tons of plastic waste arrived from the United States to 15 Latin American countries.  The US exported 44,173 tonnes of plastic waste to 15 Latin American countries between January and August 2020, sending at least 35 containers of plastic waste per day to the region.
  • Mexico, El Salvador, and Ecuador are the leading importers of plastic waste in the region.Between January and August 2020 alone, 32,650 tonnes arrived in Mexico; 4,054 tonnes in El Salvador; and 3,665 tonnes in Ecuador.
  • Currently, trade in plastic waste is carried out through ambiguous and generic tariff classifications, which hinders traceability until their final use. From the experiences of Asian countries, there is ample evidence that waste arrives contaminated or is difficult to recycle, which has a serious impact on the receiving countries.

Plastic waste exports became a threat after China stopped this type of import in 2018 to protect its territory from contamination. Globally, there is growing concern about the shipment of plastic waste from significant powerhouses such as the United States, the largest exporter of plastic waste and not a signatory to the Basel Convention, to nations with weak legislation and controls such as countries in Latin America, South East Asia and Africa. This issue highlights the fragility of recycling systems worldwide, the imperative need to move towards zero waste systems that prioritise reduction and reuse and, most importantly, that each country, especially those in the global North, manage their waste within their own territories.

Signatory organizations, demand that:

  • Latin American and Caribbean countries adapt their legislation to implement the Basel Convention (all signatories except Haiti) and its Plastics Amendment.
  • Authorities should make information on imports of plastic waste transparent and strengthen their controls.
  • Customs registries should be in place to know precisely the type and state of plastic waste entering Latin American ports.
  • The protection of territories and its communities should be a priority in the face of bilateral or multilateral agreements such as free trade agreements which could facilitate the entry of plastic waste.

Fernanda Soliz, Health Area Director at Simón Bolívar University, Ecuador.

“Crossborder plastic waste trade is perhaps one of the most nefarious expressions of the commercialization of common goods and the colonial occupation of territories of the geopolitical south to turn them into sacrifice zones. Latin America and the Caribbean are not the backyards of the United States. We are sovereign territories, and we demand the respect of the rights of Nature and our peoples” 

Melissa Aguayo, Break Free From Plastic – U.S. Coordinator.

“It is irresponsible and immoral that the United States fails to prevent companies from exporting plastic waste to Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as throughout the Global South. Rather than implementing proper waste reduction measures domestically, the U.S. is perpetrating waste colonialism by dumping this toxic pollution on other countries. We are in solidarity with our Latin American partners and allies who demand their national governments stop accepting waste imports. We will hold the U.S. government accountable for real and equitable solutions to the plastic pollution crisis.”

More Information

###

CONTACT: Camila Aguilera – camila@no-burn.org / +569 51111599

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.

Colonialismo de la basura

Más de 70 organizaciones de todo el mundo respaldaron una declaración pública para rechazar el comercio transfronterizo de desechos plásticos en países de América Latina y exigir que Estados Unidos, principal exportador de miles de toneladas de desechos plásticos se haga cargo de sus residuos en su territorio.

© Fully Handoko/Ecoton

16 de diciembre

Organizaciones miembro de la Alianza Global por Alternativas a la Incineración (GAIA) de México, Ecuador, Argentina y Chile publicaron una investigación que alertó que en 2020, las exportaciones de residuos plásticos desde Estados Unidos hacia algunos países de América Latina aumentaron en más del 100%. México, El Salvador y Ecuador son los principales importadores de desechos plásticos en la región.

Principales hallazgos de la investigación:

  • Según la base de datos de libre comercio internacional de Estados Unidos, USA Trade Online, entre enero y agosto de 2020 llegaron 44.173 toneladas de desechos plásticos procedentes de Estados Unidos a 15 países latinoamericanos. Eso significó el envío de aproximadamente 35 contenedores diarios a la región con estos materiales.
  • México, El Salvador y Ecuador son los principales destinos en América Latina de estos desechos plásticos. Solo entre enero y agosto de 2020, llegaron 32.650 toneladas a México; 4.054 toneladas a El Salvador; y 3.665 toneladas a Ecuador. 
  • Actualmente, el comercio de residuos plásticos se realiza a través de partidas, subpartidas y fracciones arancelarias amplias y ambiguas, que no permiten el seguimiento de estos materiales hasta su uso final. Por las experiencias de países asiáticos, existe amplia evidencia de que estos desechos llegan contaminados o son difíciles de reciclar, lo cual causa un grave impacto en los países receptores. 

Las alarmas se encendieron cuando en 2018, China prohibió este tipo de importaciones para proteger su territorio de la contaminación, dejando en evidencia la fragilidad de los sistemas de reciclaje y una crisis de los residuos que ha convertido a América Latina en un destino emergente para el envío de la basura plástica mundial. A escala global, existe una creciente preocupación sobre el envío de residuos plásticos desde potencias como Estados Unidos, el mayor exportador de residuos plásticos y país no suscrito al Convenio de Basilea, hacia naciones con legislaciones débiles y menores controles como las de América Latina, Asia Pacífico y África. Este problema deja en evidencia la fragilidad de los sistemas de reciclaje a nivel mundial, la necesidad imperante de avanzar hacia sistemas basura cero que prioricen la reducción y la reutilización y sobre todo, que cada país, en especial los del Norte global, que gestionen sus residuos dentro de sus propios territorios. 

Fernanda Soliz, directora área de salud, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Ecuador

“El comercio transfronterizo de desechos plásticos es quizás una de las expresiones más nefastas de la mercantilización de los bienes comunes y de la ocupación colonial de los territorios del sur geopolítico para convertirlos en zonas de sacrificio. América Latina y el Caribe no somos el patio trasero de los Estados Unidos, somos territorios soberanos y exigimos el cumplimiento de los derechos de la Naturaleza y de nuestros pueblos”.

Melissa Aguayo, Coordinadora de Break Free From Plastic, Estados Unidos

“Que Estados Unidos no haga nada para que las empresas dejen de exportar residuos plásticos a América Latina y el Caribe, así como a todo el Sur Global, es irresponsable e inmoral. En vez de aplicar en su país las medidas adecuadas de reducción, Estados Unidos está perpetrando un colonialismo de residuos al depositar esta contaminación tóxica en otros países. Solidarizamos con nuestros socios y aliados latinoamericanos que les están exigiendo a sus gobiernos que dejen de aceptar las importaciones de residuos, y exigimos al gobierno de EE.UU. que se responsabilice de encontrar soluciones reales y equitativas a la crisis de la contaminación por plástico.”


Más información

Contacto de prensa: Camila Aguilera – camila@no-burn.org / +569 51111599

 

Between January and August 2020, the United States shipped 44,173 tons of plastic waste, the same tonnage as almost 300 blue whales, to 15 Latin American countries, approximately 35 containers per day. An investigative report by GAIA LAC (Latin America and the Caribbean) members reveals the untold story of how the United States is exporting its plastic problems to Latin America–disregarding international and national laws–and the harm that it’s causing to the Latin American people and environment. The Executive Summary of the report, including its key findings, has been translated into English.