Ban EU plastic waste exports that are polluting the world!

To the Council of the EU and EU national governments

Petition

Our unsustainable economic system is built on the needless production of plastics. It has led the EU to export its plastic waste pollution problem, along with all the health impacts and environmental damage that comes with it.

The EU is one of the largest exporters of plastic waste in the world, and causes a lot of harm to the environment and human health. Therefore, the EU must ban all exports of plastic waste outside of the Union, and put in place additional protections to protect people's health and the environment for intra-EU waste shipments.

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Why is this important?

How much plastic waste have you put in your recycling bin today, just from your groceries?

It’s hard to avoid plastic packaging in our daily lives. We’re so often told that recycling is the answer. But how many of us know where the plastic waste we put aside to recycle actually ends up?

Much of our plastic waste is shipped to Turkey and Southeast Asia for recycling. In many of these plastic recycling sites, workers and local communities suffer from respiratory problems, severe headaches and skin conditions. All because of toxins emitted from recycling plastics. [1] And vulnerable people - children, refugees and undocumented migrants - also work at these recycling sites. [2]

The European Parliament has already called for the EU to stop dumping its plastic waste abroad, by calling for a full plastic waste export ban. And all EU countries are already part of an international treaty that is supposed to protect us from waste. [3] The only thing standing in the way is our own governments.

A ban on exports of plastic waste would also force the EU to rethink its entire approach to plastic production and pollution and be a step in the right direction.

If we win, not only will we have stopped the exploitative practice of exporting our plastic waste and pollution (and all the problems that come with it). But also, when faced with the true scale of the problem, our politicians will have to reduce plastic waste overall, by establishing new, sustainable reuse and refill systems.

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References:

  1. Exposure to toxins in plastic recycling results in an increased risk of cancer, neurological impacts and harm to our reproductive systems. And studies show they enter the food chain where plastic waste is recycled, burned or dumped. Repeated tests of soil, air and water at plastic dump sites across the world consistently show extremely high levels of toxic chemicals.
    https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dioxins-and-their-effects-on-human-health
    https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.publhealth.012809.103714
    https://ipen.org/sites/default/files/documents/ipen-plastic-waste-contamination-full-en.pdf, pages 7-11
  2. https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/news/plastic-dumpsites-in-turkey-found-to-be-highly-contaminated-with-toxic-chemicals/
    https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/09/21/turkey-plastic-recycling-harms-health-environment
  3. The Basel Convention is an international treaty with 190 countries as parties, including all EU member states.
    It’s meant to protect human health and the environment by minimising hazardous waste production whenever possible. It also requires that the production of hazardous wastes be managed using strict controls from its generation to storage, transport, treatment, reuse, recycling, recovery and final disposal.
    https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20230113IPR66627/waste-shipments-meps-push-for-tighter-eu-rules
    https://www.eea.europa.eu/help/glossary/eea-glossary/basel-convention
    Additional background documents include: https://eia-international.org/report/the-offshoring-and-recycling-displacement-involved-in-trying-to-recycle-eu-plastic-waste/ and https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/EIA-The-Truth-Behind-Trash-FINAL.pdf

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