Global South Voices: INC2 Media Briefing 

Listen to the Most Impacted Community and People Leading Solutions

Paris, France– The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) held a press conference along with representatives from Acción Ecológica México, Zero Waste Alliance Ecuador,, Alliance of Indian Waste Pickers, Kenya National Waste Pickers Welfare Association, and Community Action Against Plastic Waste to provide perspectives from civil society organisations in the global south as the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution commences today.  

Expert panelists from Africa, Asia Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean demanded the need for member states to negotiate a strong global plastics treaty that addresses the adverse impacts of plastics across its life cycle in the Global South. This includes key issues such as addressing waste colonialism, preventing false solutions and dangerous practices such as open burning, incineration, firing in coal-fired power plants and other waste-to-energy processes, co-processing in cement kilns, and chemical recycling that only exacerbate the harms from  the plastic pollution crisis. As well as putting an end to double standards whereby big brands package their products in cheap, unrecyclable single-use plastics, and guarantee a just transition for waste pickers and workers who are the backbone of recycling in the Global South. 

“The world has a historical debt towards waste pickers. Across the globe, our communities have been preventing and managing pollution of the environment from waste, and in particular plastic waste. Ending plastic pollution cannot happen without us, and this treaty negotiation process has to center our voices and expertise to achieve a Just transition towards that goal” John Chweya, Kenya National Waste Pickers Welfare Association. 

“In any country, waste pickers do not get fair returns for their work. Waste pickers know that there are toxic chemicals in plastic but we still make sure we recover them and save the environment. But nobody identifies us as environmentalists… and now with the changing plastic management system it will be a worse situation; that is the reason we are asking for a just transition, says Indumathi, Alliance of Indian Wastepickers. 

Furthermore, the press conference drew attention to the demands of civil society organisations for a strong plastic treaty. The demands entail mandatory targets to cap and dramatically reduce virgin plastic production, commensurate with the scale and gravity of the plastic pollution crisis, and aligned with planetary limits. Bans on toxic chemicals in all virgin and recycled plastics based on groups of chemicals, including additives (e.g., brominated flame-retardants, phthalates, bisphenols) as well as notoriously toxic polymers (e.g. PVC). Legally binding, time-bound, and ambitious targets to implement and scale up reuse and refill to accelerate the transition away from single-use plastics. Correspondingly, the treaty must reject false solutions. A just transition to safer and more sustainable livelihoods for workers and communities across the plastics supply chain, including those in the informal waste sector; and addressing the needs of frontline communities affected by plastic production, incineration, and open burning. Provisions that hold polluting corporations and plastic-producing countries accountable for the profound harms to human rights, human health, ecosystems and economies arising from the production, deployment and disposal of plastics. The treaty should also set publicly accessible, harmonized, legally binding requirements for the transparency of chemicals in plastic materials and products throughout their whole life cycle. And keep polluters out of the treaty process. 

Arpita Bhagat, Plastic Policy Officer for the GAIA Asia Pacific region, said: “Restricted and limited access issues disproportionately impact low-income, worse affected frontline and fenceline communities from the Global South who have the highest stake in the ongoing negotiations for an international agreement against plastic pollution.This is clear violation of UNEP’s own rules for stakeholder participation. Meanwhile, the access and influence of polluters, indicative of corporate capture of the process, are visible throughout, the recent Spotlight report being a good example. Our voices and concerns are unaddressed. We look for the support of the media to amplify our voices and demand justice for the Global South.”  

Moreover, the journey for Global South participants to the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution has not been an easy one. The civil society organisations said that Global South participants, especially the ones coming from the most vulnerable groups that are highly affected by plastic pollution, are being asked to produce unreasonable requirements for the VISA process. These requirements include an employment contract and proof of sizable  income. The organisations argue that even for an applicant fully sponsored by an organization with all the necessary supporting documents it is still a barrier that jeopardizes the whole INC process.

On the other hand, organisations have also faced problems with restrictions on organising side events, further limiting civil society participation in the treaty negotiations.  Alejandra Parra, plastics and zero waste advisor at GAIA Latin America and the Caribbean comments, “All requests for co-organisation of INC-2 side events submitted by Latin American organisations were rejected, including those that contemplated the participation and leadership of Indigenous Peoples from the region. This is not only frustrating and unfair, but contradicts the global participation that the treaty itself proposes as a basic principle”.


Press contacts:

GAIA Africa: Carissa Marnce, +27 76 934 6156,

GAIA Asia Pacific: Sonia G. Astudillo, +63 9175969286,

GAIA Latin America: Camila Aguilera, +56 9 5 111 1599; 

Australia quietly reopens plastic waste exports while, UNEP “Turns on the Tap” for burning plastic waste in cement kilns: Policy desperation on the eve of Plastic Treaty negotiations

20 May 2023 – On the eve of the new global Plastics Treaty negotiations in Paris, the Australian Environment Minister has decided to reopen plastic waste exports, after a five-year ban introduced by the previous federal government. The 2019 ban on waste exports came in response to China and Southeast Asian countries expose` on waste dumping. Countries that Australia had previously exported plastic waste to, such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, struggle to manage plastic waste pollution, resulting in significant harm to vulnerable communities and sensitive marine environments.

As scientific evidence grows on the full extent and damage to our planet and human health that plastic waste causes, such regressive decisions from Australia underscore a colonialist approach to waste management policy, where pollution is externalised.

The decision highlights decades of failed national plastic waste regulation and a national plastic waste policy in disarray. “This is no way to fight a plastic pollution crisis,” warns Jane Bremmer, Coordinator of Zero Waste Australia “We have already seen the waste export ban exploited by government and the waste industry. They colluded to create an exemption on exports of bales of mixed plastic waste and paper rebranded as Process Engineered Fuels’. Now we have an admission that plastic waste management is failing in Australia. This is not how you address a plastic waste crisis -we need a cap on plastic production that’s how you address the plastic waste crisis.”

At the same time the UN has released a report that recommends burning plastic waste in cement kilns, a technology that creates significant pollution that poses health threats to workers and neighbouring communities.

Bremmer said “This is one of the most polluting smokestack industries in the world and incredibly the UN is recommending they increase burning plastic waste. Cement kilns are listed as one of the worlds largest dioxin polluters and plastic wastes contain many toxic chemicals that will add to dioxin emissions. The waste industry is clearly having too much influence on these types of publications and Australian policy.”

Australia’s role and commitment to the UNEA High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution is questionable as it fails to demonstrate real action on the agreed Global Strategic Goals, choosing instead to export this hazardous waste and invest in false solutions, such as burning plastic waste in cement kilns and investing in controversial technologies such as chemical recycling. Australia has failed to act on reducing the consumption and production of plastic, instead allowing industry to promote recycling as a solution while simultaneously increasing the production of non-recyclable single use plastic. Australia has invested $250 million of public funds into waste recycling infrastructure to support an industry sector that cannot deliver the solutions we need. Indeed, they are invested in the continuing growth of plastic waste, in direct opposition to the international consensus for an urgent reduction in plastic production.

Yet the recent UNEP report released in preparation for the upcoming Plastic Treaty negotiations – “Turning off the Tap” appears to ignore its own key message instead promoting plastic recycling and burning in cement kilns as solutions, both of which will never “Turn off the Tap” for plastic production. It is clear that the fossil fuel and petrochemicals sector continues to dominate at the highest levels of international negotiations, in lock step with wealthy OECD nations such as Australia, by delaying real action on this urgent climate, ecological and human health threat, that is disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable countries and communities, globally.

“Australia must uphold its commitments to the High Ambition Coalition by immediately acting to stop all plastic waste exports and delivering on the agreed Global Strategic Goals. This is hazardous waste as defined in our Australian legislation and should not be exported anywhere. Quietly granting exemptions to waste management facilities to continue exporting this hazardous waste is a slap in the face to all Australians who thought our new federal government cared about the impacts of plastic pollution on our environment both in and outside Australia and the human rights of all peoples.”, states Zero Waste Australia, Campaign Coordinator, Jane Bremmer.

“We are very disappointed that Australia is reopening waste exports. Malaysia has experienced the impacts of dirty waste trade from Australia, including wastes that were disguised as “fuels”. Australia should prioritise source reduction and take responsibility for their own waste. Do not export harm in the pretext of recycling,” states Mageswari Sangaralingam, Consumers’ Association of Penang.

“At a time when Thailand is phasing out the imports of plastic scraps and intensifying its regulations on transboundary waste, it is disheartening to see a more developed country moving in the opposite direction. Not to mention, in July last year, 130 tons of municipal waste from Australia was found in a Thai port. To this day, it is unclear if this batch of waste has been repatriated. Plastic exports from Australia have long been a problem for Thailand, and the reopening of plastic waste export policy will only worsen the situation. We urge the Australian government to take responsibility for the waste and pollution its country creates, rather than seeking policies that could violate other’s environmental sovereignty and will draw nothing more than condemnation and embarrassment.” Punyathorn Jeungsmarn, Information and Communication Officer, EARTH.

“This policy is a step backward and should be reversed, ” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “Instead of exporting its plastic wastes to the Philippines and elsewhere, Australia should put a cap on plastic production and consumption and ensure that unwanted plastics are not incinerated, co-processed in cement kilns or sent offshore in the guise of recycling.”

“Australia’s reversed policy is a bad example of plastic waste governance. Developed countries like Australia should set an example of how to keep a promise,” said Yuyun Ismawati from Nexus3 Foundation. “Exporting waste for ‘recycling’ or waste to energy to other countries is unsustainable. We’ve witnessed adverse impacts with Australian packaging brands dumped in the communities near paper and plastic recycling factories in Indonesia. In addition, Australian investments in Indonesia to address plastic pollution have made little progress. Australia should clean up its own backyard and increase investment in its own waste management systems instead of exporting and polluting neighbouring countries.”


Jane Bremmer

Zero Waste Australia

Campaign Coordinator

National Toxics Network


Aileen Lucero

EcoWaste Coalition 78-A Masigla Extension, Barangay Central,

1100 Quezon City, Philippines Phone: +632-82944807

Website: ,

Yuyun Ismawati Drwiega

Senior Advisor & co-founder of Nexus3

IPEN Lead for ASM/Mining


Mageswari Sangaralingam

Consumers’ Association of Penang & Friends of the Earth Malaysia


Punyathorn Jeungsmarn
Information and Communication Officer
Ecological Alert and Recovery – Thailand (EARTH)