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Screenshot of The Intercept: Dandora municipal dump site in Nairobi, Kenya, 2020. Photo: Khadija Farah for The Intercept
By Julia Fine, ODP Contributing Writer
The New York Times reported this week that an industry group “representing the world’s largest chemical makers and fossil fuel companies” is attempting, as part of a trade deal being negotiated now, to get Kenya to “reverse its strict limits on plastics,” as well as to get the country to “continue importing foreign plastic garbage, a practice that it has pledged to limit.”
This attempt to get countries in the Global South to be a “dumping grounds for the world’s plastic waste” goes beyond Kenya. As Ed Brzytwa, of the American Chemistry Council, wrote in a letter to the Office of the US Trade Representative obtained by the NYT, “We anticipate that Kenya could serve in the future as a hub for supplying U.S.-made chemicals and plastics to other markets in Africa through this trade agreement.”
As we reported last year, 186 nations agreed last year to “require countries to monitor and control the movement of plastic waste between national borders in order to deal with the world’s plastic crisis”; these rules are to be implemented in 2021. The United States was one of just two countries attending the Basel Convention meeting that has refused to ratify the agreement.
Dr. Innocent Nnorom, an associate professor in environmental chemistry, told Unearthed that this industry lobbying effort is working to undermine the rules set by the Basel Convention. In his words, “It appears that loopholes are being sought to continue the trade in plastic waste. Once in Africa, the emerging free trade routes could be used to facilitate transboundary movements to other African countries. The African Union and its member states should be on the look-out.”
Senator Tom Udall decried the “double-dealing,” of these companies telling Unearthed,
“It is outrageous that petrochemical and plastic industries claim the solution to our mounting plastic waste crisis is to produce more disposable plastic. These same companies and corporations then point the finger at developing nations for the plastic waste showing up in our oceans. This double-dealing makes clear what the true source of our plastic waste crisis is: companies and corporations off-shoring their responsibilities to make billions of dollars”
To Go Deeper:Read this story by Sharon Lerner from The Intercept about Africa’s “exploding” plastic problem. It is worth your time.
The most progressive corporate commitments this week involve nature-based mitigation and pushing sustainability out into their supply chains. Walmart pledged to do some big things, including achieving zero emissions by 2040 without carbon offsets, committing to protect and restore at least 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030, and promising zero waste in the US, Canada, and Japan by 2025.
Why This Matters: Nature-based solutions have until now been seen as greenwashing. But these new commitments go much farther.
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Contributing Writer A 1000-foot stretch highway in Oroville, CA was recently repaved with recycled plastic and asphalt—the first time a state department has paved a road with 100% recycled materials. This durable recycled material can combat potholes, last two to three times longer than asphalt roads, and reuse about 150,000 single-use […]
Why This Matters: The report is another loudly ringing alarm bell that our current path is unsustainable — and we need to make a huge shift away from “business as usual” across a range of human activities.
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