A week-long beach clean up and audit at Freedom Island in Manila Bay has exposed the companies most responsible for plastic pollution in the critical wetland habitat and Ramsar site—one of the worst locations for plastic pollution in the Philippines.
The Greenpeace Philippines and #breakfreefromplastic movement audit, the first of its kind in the country, revealed that Nestlé, Unilever and Indonesian company PT Torabika Mayora are the top three contributors of plastic waste discovered in the area, contributing to the 1.88 million metric tonnes of mismanaged plastic waste in the Philippines per year.
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Waste pickers attending COP17 Dec. 5 called for a Green Climate Fund with direct community access and an end to clean development mechanism (CDM) waste-to-energy projects. Representatives from three continents highlighted the fact that waste pickers are the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the waste sector.
Millions of people worldwide make a living from waste picking. They collect, sort and process recyclables, reducing the amount of waste that is sent to landfills and saving valuable natural resources. Today, an increasing number of waste pickers are processing organic waste, diverting it from landfills and therefore reducing methane gas pollution. Waste pickers could further reduce greenhouse gas emissions given proper support.
To secure this support, a waste picker delegation has come to COP17 to raise their concerns surrounding current climate financing mechanisms and to advocate for more just alternatives that are directly accessible by waste pickers. Waste pickers from three different continents spoke against disposal technologies that undermine their livelihoods, such as incinerators and waste-to-energy projects.
Harouna Niass, a waste picker from Dakar, Senegal, spoke about the formation of Book Diomm Waste Pickers Association with 800 members, and the threat they face from CDM-backed landfill gas companies competing to extract methane and force the waste pickers off the landfill.
“Waste pickers should be included and given more respect because we take care of our environment,” Niass said.
Simon Mbata, with the South African Waste Pickers’ Association, discussed the importance of supporting waste pickers.
“We demand a Green Climate Fund that is directly accessible to waste pickers and an end of support for CDM projects which compete directly with us,” Mbata said.
Neil Tangri, with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), provided background on CDM-backed projects and the Green Climate Fund. Suman More, a waste picker with SWaCH cooperative in Pune, India, discussed incinerator alternatives.
The GAIA promotes these solutions worldwide:
We only achieve true solutions when our work supports systems of social and economic justice and ecological sustainability. Addressing issues of access, ownership, autonomy and democratic participation, among others, lays the foundation for lasting success.
Zero waste means reducing what we trash in landfills and incinerators to zero. Most things can and should be safely and economically recycled or reused. We also need to simply use less and redesign our products so that they are toxic-free and built to last.
Clean Production is a way of designing products and manufacturing processes in harmony with natural ecological cycles. It takes a life cycle view of all materials' flows, from extraction of the raw material to product manufacture and the ultimate fate of the product at the end of its life.
To get to the root cause of waste, communities need to stop picking up after the producers of products that become waste and begin demanding that they do so themselves. The embodiment of this idea is extended producer responsibility, which requires companies that manufacture or sell products to be responsible for such products after their useful life.
In many parts of the developing world, collecting and sorting waste informally provides a livelihood for large numbers of the urban poor, who often work in deplorable conditions. GAIA believes that advocating for waste picker rights is an important part of working for environmental justice.
In order to fulfill the medical ethic to "first do no harm," healthcare providers have a responsibility to manage waste in ways that protect the public and the environment. The first step is waste minimization and separation, and the next is treating infectious waste to prevent the spread of disease.
Read GAIA’s case studies on CDM projects on municipal waste management:
- To read about the CDM incinerator in Chengdu Luo Dai, China, click here.
- To read about the Bisasar landfill in Durban, South Africa, click here.
- To read about the Usina Incinerator in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, click here.
For more information, click here.
The Global Alliance of Waste Pickers brings together waste pickers organizations from Africa, Asia and Latin America. To learn more about waste pickers’ experiences and to support fair and just solutions to climate change, visit our blog www.globalrec.org.
According to the UN Environment Program, up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used globally each year, and because of the material they're made from, most municipal recycling centers don't accept them (more on this below).
The most sustainable option is to skip the bag altogether. You can also make your own reusable produce bags out of old T-shirts. But if you'd rather purchase them new, here are our recommendations for the best reusable produce bags on the market today.
Eco Joy<p>If you're making the switch to more sustainable shopping bags and want a variety of products to use, the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Reusable-Sandwich-Biodegradable-Eco-Drawstring/dp/B003PK4W3I/ref=sr_1_36?crid=3TDUCB8ZOM7WI&dchild=1&keywords=produce+bags+grocery+reusable&qid=1613484643&sprefix=produce+bags%2Caps%2C189&sr=8-36" target="_blank">Eco Joy Cotton Reusable Produce Bags</a> set is a great place to start. The set comes with three mesh drawstring bags, three muslin drawstring bags, a large mesh tote and a zippered sandwich-size pouch.</p><p>Each product is made with organic, non-GMO cotton that's ethically sourced in accordance with Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) standards. The cotton comes from India and Turkey, and the bags are hand-assembled in Canada by the owner of Eco Joy, so you can feel good about supporting a small business while reducing your environmental impact.</p><p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 300 Amazon reviews</p><p><strong>Why buy: </strong>Zero-waste; Handmade in Canada; WRAP compliant; Machine washable</p>
Organic Cotton Mart<p>Some shoppers prefer to use mesh bags when shopping for fruits and veggies. We recommend checking out <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Best-Reusable-Produce-Organic-Cotton/dp/B07CK2TJKL/ref=sr_1_16?crid=10A7NM0LQ0B7E&dchild=1&keywords=mesh+produce+bags&qid=1613483897&s=home-garden&sprefix=mesh+pro%2Cgarden%2C162&sr=1-16" target="_blank">Organic Cotton Mart's Reusable Cotton Mesh Produce Bags</a> if you're in this camp, as they're made with Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton.</p> <p>Mesh reusable produce bags can make the checkout process easier than muslin bags since you can see what's inside them without having to open them up. Plus, the tare weight (i.e., the weight of the empty bag that should be subtracted from the total weight of your produce to make sure you don't pay extra for using your bag) is printed right on the label of Organic Cotton Mart's bags, making everything that much more convenient.</p> <p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 4.6 out of 5 stars with nearly 1,000 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why buy:</strong> GOTS certified; Machine washable; Biodegradable
Simple Ecology<p>On the other hand, if you just want to purchase muslin bags, we like <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Simple-Ecology-Reusable-Organic-Shopping/dp/B004UJ0U0C" target="_blank">Simple Ecology's Reusable Produce Bags</a>, which are also made with GOTS-certified organic cotton. Simple Ecology also has a <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6AUMBG/ref=sspa_dk_detail_2?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B01N6AUMBG&pd_rd_w=MA3ZS&pf_rd_p=cbc856ed-1371-4f23-b89d-d3fb30edf66d&pd_rd_wg=hVunQ&pf_rd_r=G6RTQ1Z5DKEY325MAJZ9&pd_rd_r=5d298b3a-1be7-4ebd-a9e1-d5d672a40497&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExMzc4RVAxWjNLOTdCJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNTc0NTAwMzBDMjFYOVJPTUpWSCZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNjYyOTM4M0s4Vk81SVBPS1NFSyZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2RldGFpbF90aGVtYXRpYyZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=" target="_blank">starter kit</a> that comes with several reusable grocery bags if you're looking for more variety.</p> <p>The benefit of using muslin reusable produce bags is that, unlike mesh, there are no holes for small items to slip through. This means that in addition to larger produce, you can use them to purchase bulk foods like lentils, beans and rice — or even powders like flour or spices — without worrying about anything leaking. They're also best for keeping leafy greens fresh.</p> <p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 4.7 out of 5 stars with nearly 1,500 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why buy:</strong> GOTS certified; Machine washable; Biodegradable; Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified packaging when purchased from manufacturer
ECOBAGS<p>Whether you're buying bread, fresh flowers, produce or all of the above, the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/ECOBAGS-Market-Collection-Reusable-Natural/dp/B08KFGPGN5" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ECOBAGS Market Collection Reusable Bag Set</a> is ideal for <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/farmers-markets-coronavirus-safety-2645581711.html" target="_self">farmers market</a> shopping or large grocery hauls. The netted bags are durable, flexible, and pack down small so they're easy to keep in your car or purse.</p> <p>ECOBAGS is a woman-owned certified B Corp, which means it uses sound social and environmental practices. These bags come in packs of three or five and have a few different handle lengths and color options, but they're all made with GOTS-certified organic cotton.</p> <p><strong>Customer rating: </strong>Not applicable</p><p><strong>Why buy:</strong> GOTS certified; Machine washable; Biodegradable; Certified B Corp; SA8000 certified for the protection of basic human rights of workers</p>