EU Bans Exporting Unsorted Plastic Waste to Poorer Countries
By Jessica Corbett
The European Union's executive branch on Tuesday announced new rules for plastic waste shipments—including a ban on some exports to poorer countries—that will take effect on January 1 as part of the bloc's Circular Economy Action Plan and European Green Deal.
The changes to the bloc's 2006 Waste Shipment Regulation will apply to exports, imports, and intra-E.U. shipments of plastic waste, according to a statement from the European Commission. Various shipments to and from the E.U.'s 27 member states will be subjected to a "prior notification and consent procedure."
Starting next year, bloc members may no longer export plastic waste that is hazardous or hard to recycle to nations that are not a part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the export of clean, non-hazardous waste to non-OECD countries will only be allowed under certain conditions laid out by the importer.
🆕 Milestone in the fight against #PlasticPollution NEW 🇪🇺 rules on importing & exporting plastic waste, to boost… https://t.co/uAabNZXTVM— EU Environment (@EU Environment)1608638958.0
The rules come in response to a 2019 conference at which 187 countries agreed to add restrictions on plastics to a 1989 United Nations treaty—a deal that was praised by public health and environmental advocates. According to the commission, "By banning the export outside the OECD of plastic waste that is difficult to recycle, the E.U. is actually going further than the requirements of the Basel Convention."
As Virginijus Sinkevičius, commissioner for environment, oceans, and fisheries, put it: "These new rules send a clear message that in the E.U. we are taking responsibility for the waste we generate."
"This is an important milestone in fighting plastic pollution, transitioning shifting to a circular economy, and achieving the aims of the European Green Deal," he said.
The German broadcaster Deutsche Welle noted that "the moves follow China's 2018 ban on plastic imports and statements from environmentalists that waste was ending up in other Asian nations, such as Malaysia, and then being dumped into ocean waters."
Citing Sinkevičius, DW added that last year, "the E.U. exported 1.5 million tons of plastic waste, mostly to Turkey and Asian countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia."
This is huge. New rules will require trash importers and exporters to *agree* on how to handle hazardous shipments. https://t.co/BNZGIgb92O— Rachel Cernansky (@Rachel Cernansky)1608748843.0
Greenpeace Malaysia detailed in a May report how plastic waste from developed nations is adding to the country's environmental crisis.
"When plastics are exported from one country to another they can bring with them a wide range of hazardous chemicals," explained Kevin Brigden, senior scientist of Greenpeace Research Laboratories. "Improper storage and treatment can later release these chemicals into the local environment, and burning can even generate new hazardous chemicals."
Heng Kiah Chun, a Greenpeace Malaysia campaigner, said at the time that "the illegal dumping of plastic waste from over 19 countries worldwide has left an indelible mark on Malaysia and other countries in Southeast Asia."
"Aside from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, communities in Selangor and Kedah have another invisible enemy to face—chemical contaminants that remain in our environment with the possibility of entering our food chain," the campaigner added.
We must beware of false solutions and work to change the single-use culture of modern society. It's time for the… https://t.co/ULtXld98gI— Greenpeace NZ (@Greenpeace NZ)1608230497.0
In order to STOP polluting our earth with single-use plastic, we need robust reuse systems to be put in place. Sig… https://t.co/H3RA23QlqS— breakfreefromplastic (@breakfreefromplastic)1608750106.0
Greenpeace Germany campaigner Manfred Santen emphasized in May that exporting countries like his "must take responsibility for its wastes" and "stronger regulations are needed to drastically reduce the production of unnecessary single-use plastic packaging by multinationals like Nestle, so waste does not need to be exported in the first place."
While the new E.U. rules are designed to help stop richer countries from exploiting poorer ones, demands are still mounting worldwide for more ambitious efforts to #BreakFreeFromPlastic. Warning against "false solutions" like biodegradable plastic production, anti-pollution campaigners continue to push for banning single-use plastic products, creating "robust reuse systems," and pursuing a circular economy.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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