politics

G20 to tackle ocean plastic waste as petrochemical producers expand in Asia

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By Malcolm Foster

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Images of plastic debris-strewn beaches and dead animals with stomachs full of plastic have sparked outrage, with many countries, including more than two dozen in Africa, banning plastic bags outright.

So, 20 something developing African nations can ban them but Japan just can't live without them?

"If the world goes the direction of European targets, some markets can go from high growth to low growth or no growth. Profits could suffer," said Jeff Brown, president of energy consultancy FGE in Singapore.

"If the world keeps introducing bans on plastic bags and straws, our sales would decrease," said an official at a South Korean petrochemical maker...

Always good to see venality revealed so clearly. Reminds me of big tobacco--but if people better understand the link between our products and cancer, sales would drop. Who cares about climate change or biosphere collapse. Plastic microparticles are literally in the air we breathe and water we drink, not to mention in our food. But god forbid our bottom line or stock portfolios are hit.

Japan's petrochemical industry wants to cooperate in tackling environmental issues, Takashi Tsukioka, the head of the Petroleum Association of Japan, told a news conference last month... "We should, in the first place, focus on separating and recycling, which Japan has been doing, and then seek broad solutions, instead of jumping quickly to one approach," he said."In the end, we should promote innovation."

Translation: We're not going to do a thing and can only hope that Abe is making a grand PR push ahead of the G20 and the games next year. Come September 2020, it's our great hope that world attention will drift elsewhere and we can continue normal operations, not to mention tantalizing opportunities to develop the plastic industry further in developing nations.

And anytime you hear about industry "cooperating" with environmentalists, your b-s detector should start beeping madly.

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, which is hosting the G20 summit, says he wants his country to lead the world in reducing marine plastic trash, including developing biodegradables and other innovations.

Once Japan puts their mind to do something, you can bet they'll go all out to get it done. Right on Japan

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

Lamilly, how is Japan LEADING the world in reducing marine plastics .... when .....

many countries, including more than two dozen in Africa, banning plastic bags outright.

Seems more like following

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reducing plastic production is also crucial.

Exactly, and Japan has a great opportunity to help eliminating the "over packaging" culture here. My plastic garbage collected once a week is actually more than my other garbage that is collected twice a week!

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I’ve thought about this. It would take a thousand oil tankers with crane lifts picking up the swirling plastic islands floating around the pacific to have any quick impact. But then you get the environmentalists griping about how your destroying an eco environment. Vicious circle, but know how much the petrodollar is connected to plastic manufacturing and pipelines into Europe and soon one understands that there are big players controlling humanity and an anti plastic movement will take more than your typical 12 Monkey group.

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Once Japan puts their mind to do something, you can bet they'll go all out to get it done. Right on Japan

I agree. Lots of law abiding citizens here! One look at some of the beeches here and you’ll see 90% Korean or Chinese character writing.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

I’d like to think that the Japanese care about the environment but is it really the case?

Other Asian countries aren’t taking Japanese plastic for recycling anymore so suddenly here is a new policy about to be enacted.

Still, this coming summer there will be tons of plastic dumped on beaches along with tables,chairs, barbecue sets etc.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

We need billions and billions of nano bots released into the oceans to eat up the plastics. Even the Pope is calling for actions on the environment.

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FizzBit - I agree. Lots of law abiding citizens here! One look at some of the beeches here and you’ll see 90% Korean or Chinese character writing

What a load of hogwash! At least 90% of the plastics and other garbage on the beaches on the east coast are either Japanese domestic or industrial garbage.

People like to point fingers at China and other Asian nations, but the fact is, EVERYBODY in the world is responsible for the huge amounts of plastic waste in the oceans. How many Chinese made plastic items are sitting on your desk in front of you? It is true the majority of plastics in pacific gyre come from third world Asian countries. However, it was the developed nations who created the plastics revolution. The build up of plastics in the oceans has been going on for decades. The plastic gyres were first documented over 40 years ago in the 70’s, but it is only now that it has reached crisis point is it being acknowledged. It is already too late! There is enough plastic waste to cover the earth’s surface half a meter deep. All fishes, sea mammals and sea birds are full of it. Micro plastics cannot be removed from the oceans and are being consumed by people every day. The only way to stop the flow of plastics in the oceans is for the developed nations to invest in third world countries giving them alternatives to single use plastics, sharing recycling technologies and providing plants for them to recycle their plastics. That will never happen because everybody wants to blame someone else for it. Yes, we can reduce our use of plastics, as many people do, but it is not going to help because there is already incalculable amounts of plastics in the oceans, which everybody should share the responsibility and the shame for. Stop blaming everybody else. YOU are responsible!

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We are consuming more than 70,000 bits of micro plastic every year in addition increased levels of antibiotics and others in the water supplies. How did we allow the world to arrive at this tragic situation?

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I'm in my 50's and became aware of environmental problems on the earth in the 70's. There is no new information being shared. People do not care and nothing will change.

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When I was a kid (1970s), laundry detergent came in a cardboard box, soda came in a (refundable) glass bottle, juice came in a big metal can, toothpaste came in a metal tube, milk came in a cardboard container, so did ice cream, soap came in a bar and water came from a water fountain. All of this, except the water, was placed in a grocery bag that was made of paper.

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Just this past week an environmental group published the results of testing on foods consumed in the U.S. which said that the average American is eating the equivalent of a plastic credit card PER WEEK! Isn't that just nice? Plastic in drinking water, the soil, the ocean waters, on the ocean floor, in table salt, and in just about every sea creature there is - if not all. And companies are afraid they may lose profits if plastics are banned.

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fizzibit:

I agree. Lots of law abiding citizens here! One look at some of the beeches here and you’ll see 90% Korean or Chinese character writing.

That's strange. On the road, two minutes walk from my home, there are lots and lots of abandoned tires/tyres. Don't tell me, the Chinese and Koreans flew all the way to Japan to dump them.

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@JustMyThoughts...

indeed.....

....in the 60's our doom was to be due to pesticides (Silent Spring), in the 70's Acid Rain, in the 80's, the hole in the Ozone Layer (dump your spray cans and fridges because of the Freon).... Global Warming has been a relatively long-player in the doom stakes (but the political elite jet about the planet to discuss how to, um, save the planet).... now, Micro-plastics....

the fact is that those who blather about all this, e.g. those who frequent the bunfights such as G20, are ostensibly the ones with the power to legislate to control corporations (however concerned we the little people are, however much we do as individuals, isn't going to do anything about the root causes)..... BUT.... as noted in the article:

Profits could suffer

GROWTH is king boys and girls....

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> @zichi - We need billions and billions of nano bots released into the oceans to eat up the plastics. Even the Pope is calling for actions on the environment.

Yes, this idea has ben floated, but it would create even more waste with dead nano bots. The idea has been tested in a laboratory, but the scale of the micro plastics in the ocean makes it impossible to achieve. At present, for every ton of plastic waste removed from the oceans there are another two tons dumped right back into them. The scale of plastic waste in the oceans nearly unfathomable. The Pacific plastic island is bigger than Texas and that is only one of five plastic islands in the ocean gyres. Many communities around the world are carrying out regular beach cleanups and most people are reducing the amount of single use plastics they use, but these initiatives have very little impact on the problem at hand. The problem of plastics in the ocean needs a coordinated international plan and billions of dollars invested and, it should have started decades ago. These G20 summit talks are going to amount to nothing more than lip service to justify their positions. Nobody will agree to a pact and concentrated effort to remove the plastics from the oceans and to change the lifestyles of the third world countries who have no choice than to use the oceans as a garbage dump. This summit will only be about who to blame for it. The fact is, every person on the planet is responsible.

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@ jiji Xx

Not certain what change your are expecting. We live in a consumer based economy and people consume without thought. I see no change in people running out to shop and consume resources. This is not an ineffective government issue. The next new piece of crap is waiting to be invented for us all to run out and buy... there is no hope.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

People have to be educated, it's people that throw away the plastic, people need to change their buying habits and start to refuse items that are plastic wrapped or in plastic containers. Supermarkets and convenience stores are the worlds biggest contributors. For all those of my generation will remember that shopping was a social experience, the grocer, butcher, baker, fish monger, fruit and veg store, newsagents, all run by family concerns, who talked and laughed with you, new all your family, milk with fully returnable bottles, cokes, fruit juices came in glass bottles, your meat and cheeses were sliced in front of you to your thickness and liking, fish was cleaned and wrapped in old newspapers, same with the vegi's and fruit, oh! and the aroma or small whichever description you choose, of these shops.. So what do you have today, a clinical social society that is run by smart phones, supermarket ,corporations, online selling, telling you how and what to buy and how you have accept the amount of wrapping that comes with these products, look at amazon, and I buy from amazon, the packaging is way over the top, you almost have a heart attack trying to free the item you bought from the packaging. So the solution lies not only with these corporations, but also the consumer, he/she have to stand up and make a difference , otherwise the rhetoric and excuses will continue from these politicians and the huge corporations. Surely, with all the knowledge that is out there in the tech industry today, that a biodegradable product can be found to replace plastic, that not only benefits society and the world but also those in the manufacturing industries. The legacy we leave our children and grandchildren, doesn't look promising.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan definitely uses way too much plastic in their packaging. It's a bit of a racket and half the time I feel like I'm paying more for the plastic than the product. Every snack here is wrapped in plastic placed on a plastic tray and wrapped and plastic again. Even the fruit is wrapped in it. It's over the top.

And I also have a suspicion that it's causing the stomach cancer to rise in this country. Everyone eats out of plastic bentous plastic bottles plastic snack packs, plastic is used to keep things organized; Good luck finding a glass pitcher in this country.

I could do with less of it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Tackling plastic pollution became more of a global priority after China, which had been accepting a hefty chunk of the world's waste, banned imports at the start of 2018.

For once China does the right thing.

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