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Greenpeace Asks for Ambitious Measures from G20 Group to Tackle The Plastic Waste Crisis

The G20 ministers agreed to create a framework for action with voluntary measures to reduce marine pollution

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Enviornmental Issues, Greenpeace, Plastic Waste
The commitments reached on these issues at the meeting of Environment and Energy Ministers from the G20 countries held on June 15-16 in Karuizawa were insufficient and vague. Pixabay

Greenpeace on Monday asked the G20 group for more ambitious measures to ease the effects of climate change and to curb marine pollution ahead of the group’s summit in Osaka, western Japan, next week.

The environmental organization said the commitments reached on these issues at the meeting of Environment and Energy Ministers from the G20 countries held on June 15-16 in Karuizawa were insufficient and vague, Greenpeace Japan experts told Efe news.

In a joint declaration adopted during the meeting, the G20 ministers agreed to create a framework for action with voluntary measures to reduce marine pollution and reaffirmed the commitments made under the Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

“Voluntary actions are not enough to deal with such an urgent problem,” warned Hiroaki Odachi of Greenpeace Japan, as he demanded “clear and mandatory actions”.

Enviornmental Issues, Greenpeace, Plastic Waste
Greenpeace on Monday asked the G20 group for more ambitious measures to ease the effects of climate change. Pixabay

Ocean rubbish “is a matter requiring urgent action given its adverse impacts on marine ecosystems, livelihoods … and potentially on human health”, said a statement issued after the two-day meeting in the Japanese resort town of Karuizawa.

The Japan government, which is the current chair of the G-20, described the agreement as “a major achievement” and recently launched several initiatives aimed at “exercising leadership” to tackle the pressing problem of ocean pollution, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

These include the development of biodegradable materials, the promotion of recycling and also requires retailers to charge customers for plastic bags from April 2020, while calling for an increased use of bioplastics made of renewable resources such as plants.

Greenpeace said “these are positive developments but could eventually generate side effects and they don’t deal with the underlying problem”. It added that it would be more appropriate to end the “linear, throwaway destructive business model”.

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Japan is the world’s second-largest generator of plastic waste per capita after the US, according to the UN. In 2018, it was the second-largest exporter of plastic waste, according to another Greenpeace report.

The environmental organization also urged Tokyo to “show real leadership” and take “much more ambitious measures” at the national level while pushing for a meaningful agreement within the framework of the G20 that goes in the direction of what was agreed to in Paris in 2016.

Japan is the only country in the G7 (the seven most industrialized nations) that continues to build coal plants and does not plan to get rid of them as recommended by the Paris Agreement, Greenpeace said. (IANS)

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Cambodia Returns 1,600 Tons of Plastic Waste Exported from US, Canada

Neth Pheaktra said 70 of the containers were shipped from the U.S. and 13 came from Canada. Both countries are major waste exporters

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plastic waste
Containers loaded with plastic waste are pictured in Sihanoukville Port, southwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. July 16, 2019. VOA

Cambodian authorities have announced plans to return 1,600 tons of plastic waste exported from the U.S. and Canada, according to a high-ranking official from the Environmental Ministry.

Inspectors found the waste Tuesday. It was packed in 83 containers unloaded in Sihanoukville, one of Cambodia’s main ports.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra told VOA Khmer on Wednesday that “authorities are seeking the companies that smuggled the plastic waste in order to take legal action.”  He added that the waste would be returned “to the country of origin.”

Neth Pheaktra said 70 of the containers were shipped from the U.S. and 13 came from Canada. Both countries are major waste exporters.

plastic waste
80 percent of the waste found on 93 beaches was plastic. VOA

‘Not a dustbin’

“Cambodia is not a dustbin where foreign countries can dispose of out-of-date e-waste, and the government also opposes any import of plastic waste and lubricants to be recycled in this country,” said Neth Pheaktra.

In the past, Cambodian authorities have found radioactive and film waste arriving in Sihanoukville.  He said the plastic waste found this week was not biodegradable.

Emily Zeeberg, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia, said the embassy “is monitoring reports of plastic waste at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port.”

Zeeberg added that “we have requested additional information and are offering U.S. government assistance to determine both the exporter (country of origin) and the importing entity here in Cambodia.”

Sorn Chey, who works with the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, said the authorities should heed control mechanisms. “This is something that should not take place,” he added.

plastic waste
Scientists: China’s Ban Causes Plastic To Pile Up, Nations Must Reduce Usage. Pixabay

Chinese project

Cambodia’s rejection this week was the latest step in a trash crisis that emerged when China began Operation Green Fence in February 2013. It was aimed at reducing the vast amounts of contaminated recyclables and waste sent to China.

ALSO READ: Mahindra Group Chairman: No More Plastic Bottles at Boardroom Meeting

In January 2018, Beijing banned almost all imports of two dozen types of recyclable materials, such as plastics, mixed paper and electronic waste. Now, unless the materials are clean and sorted so they are unmixed, China rejects them.

Since then, other countries in Southeast Asia that accepted waste have started to turn it away. In May, Malaysia returned 450 tons of plastic waste to the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands. Earlier this month, Indonesia rejected waste from Australia. (VOA)