Ending waste exports from rich to weaker economies is crucial to reducing plastic pollution, and protecting communities from the impacts of the plastic waste trade.
In 2021, a Shipping Lines Campaign was launched by the Basel Action Network, The Last Beach Cleanup, and 50 other organizations including Greenpeace. One company has responded to the call, but the rest are still transporting plastic waste.
Join us in calling on shipping companies to #StopShippingPlasticWaste from the world’s wealthy economies, including the USA, EU, UK, Japan and Australia, to weaker economies in the Asia Pacific region, Africa, and Latin America.
Why is this important?
Many products are packaged in ‘recyclable’ plastic material that is not recyclable at all. ‘Recyclable’ plastic waste, usually mixed with a significant share of contaminants, has been shipped for years from rich economies to weaker economies. But often, the recycling of exported plastic waste is a MYTH!
Check out this video from Greenpeace Malaysia to know more about the Recycling Myth:
- The plastic waste trade is a source of ocean pollution.
An estimated 80% of marine debris stems from plastic, which includes consumer products and packaging, and domestic waste. A portion of that volume comes from plastic waste that had been shipped for recycling. Researchers estimated that up to 31% of polyethylene (PE) plastic waste exported from Europe is not recycled at all, with as much as 24% of the rejected plastic potentially ending up as marine pollution.
- Plastic waste exports drive plastic production.
When countries ship their plastic waste to other countries under the guise of ‘recycling’ – corporations can continue to manufacture plastics with impunity. If countries were forced to deal with their own plastic waste, they might be more wary of producing massive quantities of plastics that will persist in their environments for centuries.
- Plastic waste exports unjustly impacts the environment and communities in the Global South.
Due to pollution crimes such as the illegal trafficking, dumping, and burning of plastic waste, the plastic waste trade often has severe implications for the health of the environment and the people in destination countries, causing the toxic pollution of soil, air, and water from waste that they did not create.
- Plastic waste exportation is equivalent to waste colonialism.
By shipping plastic waste, rich countries can enjoy convenience and unlimited consumption while shifting the blame and the responsibility of tackling plastic pollution onto developing countries – most of which are ill-equipped in terms of infrastructure and technology to handle their own domestic plastic waste. The traded plastic waste ‘leaks’ into rivers and the ocean at every stage of the transportation process, even during storage and recycling.
- The plastic waste trade is a false solution. #PlugtheLeak
Strategies to stop plastic litter and microplastics from leaking into the oceans, including increased recycling, will be ineffective if plastic waste continues to be transported to other countries, while plastic production and consumption keep increasing.
The real solution requires changing the practice of disposing of plastic waste via exports. Shipping companies must stop transporting plastic waste from rich to weaker economies. This safeguards communities in receiving countries from unjust waste trade practices, and protects our environment from plastic pollution.
Doing so would better align shipping companies with their sustainability commitments, especially those in line with SDG 14’s targets to reduce marine pollution and protect marine ecosystems. To #PlugtheLeak in river and ocean pollution, we have to #StopShippingPlasticWaste!
Companies like Maersk offer excuses for why they will not stop shipping plastic waste, yet we know that this shift is possible! From 1 June 2022 onwards, the French shipping company CMA CGM will no longer carry plastic waste on board its ships.
Here’s why CMA CGM decided to stop plastic waste trade:
This was after the Shipping Lines Campaign asked the company to rethink their waste trade policy — demonstrating that concerted efforts targeted at shipping companies, like this petition, do work!
Tell the world’s top shipping companies — Maersk (Denmark), Hapag-Lloyd (Germany), MSC (Switzerland), Hamburg Sud (Germany), COSCO (China), Orient Shipping (Jordan), and Dole Ocean Cargo (United States) — to #StopShippingPlasticWaste.
To know more about waste trade, head over to Break Free from Plastic’s page: https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/waste-trade/
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