UNEA 5 Briefing Series: Plastic Neutrality and Credit

As companies increasingly come under pressure to reduce plastic, some are using “plastic neutrality” and similar
credit schemes to claim that they are not contributing to plastic pollution. The global plastics treaty provides an important opportunity to officially discourage or ban the use of plastic credits before they become widespread. Doing so would avoid the incredible amount of regulatory oversight needs —both in the private and public sectors— to organize and manage international plastic credit markets. The collective efforts could be better spent on reducing plastic production rapidly.

The scale of global plastic pollution has been brought to light in recent years. Over 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced each year, and more than 90 percent of it ends up in landfills, waste dumps, incinerators, and on lands and waterways. Like many other countries in Southeast Asia, Indonesia is dealing with growth in both domestic consumption of single-use plastic and waste arriving at the ports in the name of trade. Indonesia has been labelled as the second largest contributor to ocean plastic leakage after China. In addition to the amount estimated to leak into waterways and the ocean (9 percent of the 4.8 million tonnes of plastic waste generated in Indonesia every year), the majority of plastic waste in the country is being inadequately managed through open burning (48 percent), dumping on land or dumpsites (13 percent).

In response to the unprecedented plastic pollution crisis, fast-moving consumer goods companies and the petrochemical industry have supported and promoted countless miraculous-sounding technologies, pushing back on their bad reputations as major plastic polluters. CreaSolv is Unilever Indonesia’s flagship project on this front, and the media has touted it as an example of a technological innovation that can solve the entire global plastic waste problem by recycling the lowest-value plastic.

Two years after the highly-celebrated launch of the pilot plant in Indonesia in 2017, however, the fuss around the CreaSolv project quieted down as the company secretly shuttered the operation. Reports from local investors revealed multi-layered fallout of the CreaSolv project, from the logistical difficulties of sachet collection through challenged economics around the end products.

In light of the global plastic crisis, technologies such as turning plastic waste into fuel and burning it are being falsely marketed as circular, climate-friendly, and sustainable. Such incineration technologies -including gasification and pyrolysis- are popping up across the globe, both as large-scale industrial investments and small-scale, backyard projects.

Amid the industry hype for plastic-to-fuel schemes, this advocacy brief highlights the climate, environmental, and health risks from these processes that outweigh any supposed benefits.

In light of recent promotional statements from technology providers, governments, and academic and research institutions, this report looks at the proposed application of converting municipal waste into fuel, namely for gas turbine aircraft engines.

In a world where climate and waste crises are worsening at a staggering rate, the idea of turning waste into fuels might sound like a great solution. Companies like Fulcrum Bioenergy and Velocys have been catching media attention by claiming that they have developed a technology that can produce jet fuels from waste.

San Andrés es una isla colombiana con una economía se encuentra dominada por el comercio y el turismo. Como ocurre en otras islas, tiene problemas de sobrepoblación y de espacio para la disposición adecuada de los residuos generados por los residentes y visitantes. En los años 2000 nace la propuesta de una solución mágica: quemar los residuos y producir energía. Pero durante una década la costosa instalación de incineración no funcionó y los residuos continuaron acumulándose en el vertedero que ya estaba al límite.

This booklet is a guide that is aimed at all waste pickers who face challenges where they work, focusing particularly on those working on landfill sites, although street pickers are mentioned briefly throughout. It is a brief look at what organizing of waste pickers is and the benefits organizing may provide people working in this sector of the South African economy. It can be used by any waste picker who is interested in solving problems that they and the waste pickers they work with may have where they work.

Construir una economía resiliente se tornó más urgente que nunca en el contexto de la pandemia  del COVID-19. El sector de manejo de residuos normalmente ocupa entre 4 y 19% de los presupuestos municipales. Aunque los sistemas de basura cero son conocidos por sus beneficios ambientales, són también una estrategia rentable y práctica para el manejo de residuos, que además es muy favorable en términos económicos.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to build a resilient economy is more pressing than ever. Today, waste management is a sector that typically uses up to 4-19% of municipal budgets. While zero waste systems are known for their wide-range of environmental benefits, they are also an affordable and practical strategy to waste management that is greatly economically advantageous.