Save the oceans

Transcript

1 SA VE THE OCEANS top recycling plastic S M ikko Paunio T he Global Warming Policy Foundation Briefing 32 GWPF

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3 VE THE OCEANS SA S top recycling plastic M ikko Paunio opyright 2018 The Global Warming Policy Foundation © C

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5 C ontents bout the author vi A Executive summary vii 1 Introduction 1 2 Three ways to deal with waste 2 Landfills 2 Recycling 2 High-temperature incineration 4 3 Exporting the waste problem away 4 4 The ocean plastic problem 5 Asia’s contribution 5 The EU’s contribution 6 5 The growing crisis 7 In Asia 7 In the EU 7 6 Solving the waste problem 8 Notes 10

6 A bout the author ikko Paunio, MD, MHS was born in Turku, Finland in 1961. He graduated and then com- M pleted and defended his doctoral thesis at the University of Helsinki in 1990. He has post- graduate training from the Free University of Brussels in 1991 and has graduated from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Master of Health Science in 1993). He is a certified (University of Helsinki) specialist in public health (1999) and is an adjunct professor in general epidemiology at the University of Helsinki. He comes from a family with academic traditions and is a third generation social demo- crat. He joined Finland’s Social Democratic Party in 1977. He has worked in the following institutions: the Institute of Health and Welfare of Finland, University of Helsinki, Johns Hop- kins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the European Commission, the World Bank and Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. He is a member of the American Council on Science and Health Board of Scientific and Policy Advisors. He has 40 publications listed in the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. For the past 20 years he has actively followed and participated in discussions on EU and international waste policy issues from health protection angle. vi

7 Ex ecutive summary marine plastic litter crisis has been declared and the mass media around the world has A given their front pages over to the story for a while now. The European Union – among other actors – has declared a war against marine litter. Annually over 10 million metric tons (Mt) of plastic litter end up in oceans, harming wildlife. The International Solid Waste Asso- ciation (ISWA) – the most competent specialist organization in the field – has summarized the origins of the marine litter crisis: 75% of land based marine litter in low to upper-middle income economies comes from litter and uncollected waste, while the remaining 25% of the land-based sources is plas- tic which leaks from within the waste management system. I n other words, the ISWA report shows that 25% of the leakage is attributable to the waste management option preferred by green ideologues; meanwhile, waste incineration can prevent any leakage of plastic if municipal solid waste (MSW) is incinerated along with sewage sludge. Despite this, incineration is vehemently opposed by green ideologues and also by the EU, which chooses to believe in the mirage of a circular economy. The vast majority of the marine litter problem is attributable to poor waste collection and other sanitary practices in Asian, and to a lesser extent African, towns and cities in coastal ar- easandalongrivers. TheproblemisparticularlyacuteinChina. Theneglectofurbansanitary policy–thebackboneofdevelopmentagendasuntilthattime–startedwhenthe‘motherof sustainability’, Norway’s Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, personally refused to have it be part of her World Commission’s work program and ultimately its 1987 report, which fa- mously led to the adoption of ‘sustainable development’ goals by the UN General Assembly. This report describes the absurdities, inefficiencies, double or even triple waste manage- ment structures and horrible consequences of the EU’s erratic green waste policy (such as the terrible waste catastrophe in Naples in 2008), its fact-free claim that its waste policy helps to implement the Paris climate agreement, and its dumping of 3 Mt of plastic in China each year, with horrific consequences for the marine environment and health. TheEUhasnowstartedtosideline–inthenameofcirculareconomy–thehighlysuccess- ful waste incineration policy implemented in seven EU member states – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden – which all have major waste in- cineration capacity and now landfill less than 3% of their MSW. vii

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9 1 Introduction et al. in 2015, was a wake-up call for the global , published in paper by Jambeck Science A 1 I community. t gave metrics of how much plastic is ending up, one way or another, in the oceans: perhaps around 8 million tons (Mt) per year. This is a big number, but it needs to be compared to something. It is roughly equivalent to the quantity of crude oil Finland – a country of 5.5 million inhabitants – imports for its own consumption annually. So although it is a big number it is not an overwhelming number. However, from the environmental et al. , this amounts to: ‘...the same as five five- littering perspective, according to Jambeck gallon bags filled with mixed plastic on every foot of coastline around the world’. A later paper, by Lebreton et al. , showed that certain rivers and their watershed areas, especially in 2 Asia, add significantly to marine pollution: around 2 Mt of plastic litter. lastic will continue to be an integral part of the world’s economy. Plastics are mainly P used for packaging (around 35%), and plastic packages account for almost 60% of discarded 3 plastic in the EU’s municipal waste streams. Ho wever, plastic food packaging is an integral and vital part of food hygiene and has had important health and environmental benefits. In particular, it has proven to be an effective means to control and prevent the accumulation 4 of municipal solid waste (MSW), chiefly by reducing the amount of food waste. P lastic is mostly made from natural gas or by-products of oil refining. Global production of virgin plastic is currently around 350 Mt per year, so 10 Mt that ends up in the ocean each 5 T year is around 3% of production. he production of recycled plastic is around 2% of the 6 virgin production figure. P lastic production is growing rapidly with increasing global GDP andpopulationgrowth. Asof2015, approximately6300Mtofplasticwastehadcumulatively been generated; only around 9% of it had been ‘recycled’, 12% had been incinerated, and 79% had accumulated in landfills or in the natural environment. If current production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills 7 8 or in the natural environment by 2050. T he world’s oil consumption in 2016 was 4400 Mt. I n the paragraph above, the word ‘recycled’ is in quotation marks, because all official statistics in this area are notoriously misleading and exaggerate particularly the recycling of plastic, because the figure given is simply the quantity of plastic collected in that form, or separated and recovered from mixed waste. In other words, in official terms, plastic is deemed ‘recycled’ if it is recovered, no matter what ultimately happens to it. In real life, plastic is barely recyclable, because the process requires homogenous waste streams, which 9 in practice are hard to achieve. R ecycled PET or RPET (plastic bottles) and certain other 10 polyethenes can be recycled to some extent, but the understandable reluctance of the foodindustrytoacceptrecycledplasticandtheabundanceofcheaphydrocarbonswillmake recycled plastic non-competitive for the foreseeable future. The shale revolution and the ,12 11 consequent flow of cheap gas has made virgin plastic still cheaper. I n this paper I will argue that ideologically motivated environmentalists in the 1980s and their dreams of recycling and a ‘circular economy’ are the ultimate cause of the marine waste problem, because they have discouraged development of municipal waste schemes in Asia and Africa, and because they have encouraged developed nations to use manage- ment schemes that make it hard or expensive to deal with waste and therefore tend to ‘leak’ to the environment, sometimes catastrophically so. I will explain how this problem will become worse if current ‘sustainable’ policies are not critically assessed and how the situation is set to become critical. I will also set out a way to put an end to the problem of plastic waste in the oceans. 1

10 2 Three ways to deal with waste 13 here will always be MSW and more than 258 Mt is generated in Europe every year. l- T A though health protection is theoretically still the primary objective of waste management, it is in reality a secondary concern nowadays, with climate change mitigation becoming a principal driver, as will be detailed below. WastemanagementpolicyintheEUfollowsathree-tieredstategy, inorderofpreference: 1. waste prevention 2. reuse, recycling and energy recovery 3. disposal of waste. 14 that TheEU’sWasteFrameworkDirectivestipulates eachcountrymustbuildacountrywide system to deal with MSW. There are myriad ways to do so, from global trading to the array of polices and collection and recycling schemes preferred by green ideologues. However, almost all of these, including paper recycling, leak plastic litter and/or microplastics to land surfaces, rivers and eventually to the oceans. The three main methods are considered below. L andfills S anitary landfills have been the traditional way of disposing of municipal solid waste. To plan, license, build, operateandinspectsanitarylandfillsinvolvesanarrayofspecialists, from waste engineers to geologists, who ensure that they are safe for disposal of MSW. The EU, through its Landfill Directive, regulates safe disposal of MSW, including plastic. Environmentalists have strong objections to landfilling, driven by concerns over emis- sions of methane – a greenhouse gas – as their contents break down. In fact it is possible 15 to collect most of this for use as a fuel, and the directive sets strict rules to prevent envi- ronmental leakage of pollutants from landfill sites and requires pretreatment of MSW before landfilling. This has led to a sharp decrease in the number of landfill sites in Europe, with a concomitant increase in fly-tipping. ycling Rec vironmentalists much prefer recycling. However, its benign reputation is mostly unde- En served. There is a marked contrast between the fates of pre- and post-consumer plastic. Almost all pre-consumer waste is recycled or reused within the UK, while almost all post-consumer waste plastic is not, for reasons that will be explained shortly. However, green ideologues are obsessed with the highly visible post-consumer waste streams and they therefore ignore the much larger streams and the huge savings in plastic material that are constantly achieved in the industrial realm in the normal course of business. The reason for this difference is that pre-consumer it is relatively easy to achieve streams ofonetypeofplasticwaste. Post-consumer, thisismuchhardertodosinceitinvolvessorting of waste, and it is impossible do this effectively at source. There are many reasons for this, including people’s unwillingness (e.g. lack of time) or inability to effectively sort waste at home or in their place of work. Technical issues, lack of space, or hygiene concerns may also be important. This means that if recycling is to take place, waste must be sorted after collection. For this purpose, so-called mechanical-biological treatment (MBT) plants are the favoured op- 2

11 tion in the EU. Many MBT plants – especially in south-eastern Europe – are to all intents and purposes frauds. They accept mixed waste, allowing municipalities to meet their nation- ally imposed recycling targets. Governments are thus able to comply with EU legislation. However, instead of being sorted, the waste is simply landfilled; something that is possible 16 because many southern European countries do not enforce the landfill directive. Ho wever, even legitimate MBT plants have proven to be hugely problematic. The idea of MBT plants is to split off recyclable waste from an MSW stream. They first separate off biowaste, which is then dealt with using anaerobic digestion or composting. Other recy- clable materials – mostly plastic, paper and metal cans – are then separated out via mechan- ical, manual and chemical processes. A great deal of water is needed to wash the waste to make it useable, so the amount of waste water generated is enormous. Moreover, this process leaves prodigious quantities of dirty solid waste, including biological waste that is hazardous and highly undesirable. More- over, it is not possible to fully mechanize the sorting process, so human hands are needed. MBT plants often feature poor occupational health protection and the public image of these plants is of the waste sorter who has come from the Third World to Europe but is be reduced 17 to handling dirty waste and inhaling toxic fumes. ven with this human intervention, MBT E plants are highly ineffective. Often less than one third of the waste that arrives at an MBT plant can be separated into material that is recyclable (at least in principle; see Section 3). The remaining two thirds, and thus the main product of an MBT plant, are the non- recyclable materials, both organic and inorganic. It was originally intended that most of it would be incinerated, along with other fuels, in industrial processes that require heat. For this reason it is generally referred to as ‘refuse derived fuel’ (RDF). However, in practice, this turned out to be impossible, because the EU’s Waste Incineration Directive of 2000 created strict emissions regulations, which made RDF uneconomic to burn in this way. These problems are epitomised by the story of waste management in the Italian re- gion of Campania. Here, there was a long political struggle over the direction of waste 18 policy. Greenpeace and other green utopians were strongly in favour of MBT waste pol- icy, despite the known environmental problems. There was an aggressive campaign, led by a local schoolteacher named Rossano Ercolini, against the alternative approach of high- temperature incineration. Eventually, the greens won out, and in 1997 a policy of MBT treat- 19 ment was selected. No incinerators were built. A s we have already seen, when the EU Waste Incineration Directive was introduced, co- incineration became uneconomic. But with no specialist incinerators having been built, Campania now had no way of disposing of RDF at all. As a result, it was dumped; first in legal landfills, then in illegal ones, before finally being left at the MBT plants, where it piled up 20 until there was no longer any space. Ultimat ely, hauliers refused to take MSW from homes and businesses; they could not deliver them at MBT plants that were already overflowing with RDF. Then the fires started: people started to burn waste at source, and there were suspicious outbreaks at both legal and illegal landfills. As a result, much of Campania was severely 19 contaminated with dioxin, and officials had to ban locally produced dairy products which 21 had become contaminated. C ivil disorder broke out and the military had to be called in to 20 help. RDF had to be exported to other countries – including Sweden – at astronomical cost. T here was long-term reputational damage to the region and the legacy of illegal waste man- agement activities still haunt the area. Mercifully, biomonitoring and cancer epidemiology studieshavenotrevealedanymajorpublichealthconsequences, despiterumoursthatthese 3

12 19 w ould be severe. D espite playing such a central role in bringing the disaster about, Ercolini was feted by the green movement, the BBC labelling him a ‘hero’ when he received the 2013 Goldman 22 prize. igh-temperature incineration H t didn’t have to be like this. Despite the problems of MBT plants, European waste manage- I ment is, at least in part, still a success story, although little of the credit is due to Brussels. This is because environmentally conscious countries such as Austria, Belgium, Finland, Ger- many, and the Netherlands, and in particular Denmark and Sweden, have dealt with the waste problem by building vast networks of incineration plants. Incineration stands apart as the best way to deal with MSW. Because it does not require waste to be sorted, it does not suffer from the problems of leakage that are found with al- most every other approach. Moreover, modern MSW incinerators are designed to burn ev- 23 erything, including even sewage sludge, an important source of plastic pollution (includ- 2 s a result, Campania has been able to deal with ing microplastics) in rivers and the ocean. A its mountain of RDF – as we have seen, a mixture of mainly paper, plastic, and organic matter – by shipping it off for incineration. However, the advantages of incineration are so great that the sorting of waste in MBT plants should be seen as an entirely redundant step. For example, incineration leaves only 15–20% of the original weight in the form of ash, and this can be landfilled directly in spe- cialist landfills, or in standard ones after treatment; much is recycled, for example as road- building materials. And although new EU legislation stipulates that by 2030 only 10% of 24 MSW can be landfilled, success of the incineration approach means that some Euro- the pean countries are already landfilling less than 3%. Moreover, it is envisaged that we will soon ‘mine’ incinerator ash for valuable metals, thus further reducing the quantity that has 25 to be dumped. I ncineration plants are required to have very low emissions levels, and as a result inciner- ation is healthier and more environmentally friendly than any of the waste management op- 26 tions supported by green ideologues. he whole Swedish incinerator network (32 plants T in 2009) emitted only about half a gram of dioxin in 2009, which is 200 times less than in 27 deep landfill fire of the kind that was seen across Campania can emit almost as 1985. One 28 much dioxin as the Swedish incinerator fleet produces in a year. oreover, mixed MSW incineration is by far the best waste management option if one M is concerned about greenhouse gas emissions. This is due to the simple fact that if you put mixed waste, including plastic packages or organic waste, directly to incineration you can 29 effectively reduce the need to burn coal or natural gas. espite this, both environmental- D 30 32 ,31 ists the European Union ehemently oppose incineration, arguing incorrectly that v and it increases carbon emissions. Exporting the waste problem away 3 n Section 2, we noted that the small proportion of plastic that is successfully extracted in I MBT plants or separately collected is in principle recyclable. However, the economics of re- cycling plastic are adverse, and there is thus a strong incentive for processors to cheat the system. Once the material has been sent to an MBT plant for recycling, it more or less counts 4

13 as ‘recycled’ for EU monitoring purposes, so it is then a matter of dealing with it in the most convenient way, which may well not involve recycling at all. Much of the plastic recyclate from MBT plants has been sent to the Far East, where it may or may not be turned into new plastic objects. The EU has been, until now, the largest 33 exporter of plastic waste to China. Annual exports recently reached 3 Mt. wever, it is Ho increasingly clear that this trade is leading to significant environmental problems. In partic- 5 ular, the waste stream may ‘leak’ to the oceans in at least three different ways: • T he shippers of second-grade plastic waste may simply dump it in the oceans to avoid gate fees at landfills. Excess non-recyclable plastic waste has often put a strain on the already overwhelmed • municipal waste management capacity, and waste ends up being dumped on land or in rivers, from where a significant fraction ultimately reaches the sea. Small unregulated Chinese recycling businesses have often burned non-recyclable • plastic in the open air, but some have also dumped illegally, again with a significant fraction reaching the ocean. 4 The ocean plastic problem T he International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) is the most competent international actor when it comes to assessment and management of international MSW issues. In 2017 it pub- 5 lished the report of its ‘Marine Task Force’ on the problem of waste in the oceans. he report T was written under severe pressure from green ideologues, NGOs and EU politicians. Thus a careful reading is required to discern its real meaning. For example, the proposed long-term solutions are idealistic and driven by green ideology, and suffer from non-solvable issues similar to those with alternative energy sources. A sia’s contribution A lthough it is not obvious, it is possible to discern from the report’s text that it is China and certain other Asian countries that are mainly responsible for the global marine pollution problem. The key to controlling marine pollution is to understand the role of certain rivers inAsia, andtoamuchlesserextentinAfrica, thatareincloseproximitytopopulationcentres. These watercourses are now effectively just sewers. The ISWA report stated that: A recentstudyhasestimatedthat75%oflandbasedmarinelitterinlowtoupper-middle income economies comes from litter and uncollected waste, while the remaining 25% of the land-based sources is plastic which leaks from within the waste management sys- tem. I n other words, 25% of the leakage is attributable to waste management options preferred by the greens. The rest is attributable to negligence of urban waste collection and sanitary practices. Theneglectofmunicipalwastemanagementinthedevelopingworldcanbetracedback to the Brundtland Commission in the 1980s, with which the current ‘sustainable develop- ment’ agenda had its beginnings. The commission’s chairman, Gro Harlem Brundtland, a former Prime Minister of Norway, was transfixed by new and exciting environmental issues such as climate change and water and energy conservation – in particular, her secretariat 5

14 w as in close contact with Bert Bolin of the embryonic Intergovernmental Panel on Climate 34 s a result, she personally prevented urban sanitary programs being included in Change. A 35 ,36 the commission’s remit. e that time, there has been an almost total neglect of the environmental health Sinc ,38 37 including those relating to municipal agenda and related urban sanitation programs waste collection. This is despite the fact that it was attention to these issues that lifted western countries out of poverty, misery and malnutrition from the late 19th century on- 37 38 ,38 wards. T and , as we will see, for the his neglect has been devastating for public health environment too. he EU’s contribution T A s noted in the introduction, the Jambeck et al. paper opened the eyes of the global com- munity and the mass media to the marine litter problem. The paper gave the first global ranking of the worst polluters of the oceans, with China a clear number one. It stressed that the problem ultimately derives from human populations living in coastal areas. Although the paper correctly identifies China as a major source of marine waste, it still 39 contains an important error. T his prevents the world community from understanding the full implications of the global plastic ‘recycling’ business in the context of the problems of marine litter and microplastics. The paper states: . ..we did not address international import and export of waste, which would affect na- tional estimates but not global totals. he paper’s methodological starting point is that the more a country mismanages waste, T the more plastic litter it leaks to oceans. China imports from countries where mismanage- ment rates are very low, at around 1%. In China the mismanagement rate is close to 30%. et al. only take into account domestic generation rates of plastic waste However, Jambeck and so their figure for marine litter produced in China is a substantial underestimate. In essence, thepaperhasignoredtheannual8Mtofplasticwasteimports(cumulativelyaround 40 100 Mt probably assuming that this has been recycled. This is – of course – far from the ), truth. In other words, the fact that recycling in the EU (as well as in the USA, Japan and Aus- tralia) is a major source of marine litter in Asia is completely hidden. It is impossible accurately and with precision to estimate how much of this 100 Mt of imported plastic waste has leaked to the environment and ultimately to the oceans. One in- 41 formed guess suggests a figure of 20% is plausible. he figure is undoubtedly substantial: T the easy pickings – waste that is readily sorted or mechanically recovered to give a homoge- nous plastic waste stream (typically PET bottles) has already been extracted (and even 20% 42 of this ends up being treated as waste The remainder is therefore of lower quality, making ). it more likely that a high fraction will be burned or dumped in rivers and oceans. We know that there has been a lot of illegal dumping disguised as recycling: waste own- 5 ,33 thus ers in rich countries have paid Chinese hauliers to get rid of the problem, enabling them to avoid landfill taxes or the high costs of dealing with hazardous waste. The quanti- ties involved are hard to determine, although it seems clear that much of it ends up being dumped in the oceans or rivers or illegally on land. The sheer volume of annual importa- tion of recyclates to China has been so large that the Chinese government could not have ,33 5 properly inspected it. 6

15 5 The growing crisis I n Asia n 2013 the Chinese government erected the so-called ‘Green Fence’, refusing any longer to I accept poorly sorted waste streams. An ISWA report anticipated that this would not be the 33 end of the story: T he current model of operation (predominantly export dependence on China) has be- come vital for the successful operation of Western/Northern municipal recycling sys- tems. There are doubts about the system’s resilience and overall sustainability. T his conclusion was reached because the horrendous consequences – for both the envi- ronment and for public health – of the green ‘recycling’ scam had begun to emerge. As the report noted: he important concerns expressed in relation to environment and health aspects of the T international plastic scrap trade have not been systematically explored sufficiently to be verified or dismissed. Unf ortunately, the mainstream media has chosen to draw a veil over these horrors, so that ordinary people are kept ignorant of what has happened in the name of ‘saving the 43 planet’. wever, the Chinese government had no illusions. In December 2017, a meeting Ho of world environment ministers declared a global marine litter crisis, and the Chinese envi- ronment minister indicated that China would soon put an end to a variety of waste imports. The ban was put in place at the start of 2018, and covered 24 categories of waste, amount- 43 ing to 85 Mt annually, with 8 Mt being plastic waste. Chinese ships carrying exports to rich countries now return empty to China, rather than full of plastic or other waste. I n the EU T he EU has remained silent about the horrendous environmental and health effects of its 3 ,43 ndeed, rather than trying to fix the problems, it has doubled down by recycling strategy. I 44 I ts new plastic strategy boasts of what it assumes is its small declaring a ‘war on plastics’. contribution to the marine litter problem, although it also admits that almost half of the 3 plastic waste collected in the EU over the past two decades or so has been sent to China, with horrendous consequences. It has even tried to stake out a position on the moral high ground by claiming – incorrectly – that plastic recycling will support the implementation of 3 the Paris climate agreement. he EU’s recently adopted EU plastic strategy aims for all plastic packaging to be recy- T clable or reusable by 2030, which is an unrealistic and potentially very harmful delusion. Be- cause of the Green movement and the twin obsessions with waste prevention and recycling, many countries have chosen to build MBT capacity. In the future, however, the amended landfill directive is going to make it much more challenging to use the MBT approach: the non-recyclable portion of MSW can no longer be exported to China and EU law now mostly stipulates that by 2030, only 10% of MSW can be landfilled, thus effectively closing off that 24 option too. C ountries like the UK – with little incineration capacity – might therefore be expected to export their RDF for incineration in other European countries, just as happened in Campania. However, there are signs that this route may be in danger of being closed down too. The EU Commission’s new plastic strategy says that there should be: 7

16 ..clearer obligations for national authorities to step up separate collection, targets to . encourage investment in recycling capacity and avoid infrastructural overcapacity for processing mixed waste (e.g. incineration), and more closely harmonised rules on the 3 use of extended producer responsibility. I n other words, incineration capacity – already insufficient – will be reduced and the focus will shift to recycling. The point is only emphasised by EU Budget Commissioner Oettinger’s recent proposal to introduce a levy for incinerating plastic. These ‘recycling’ absurdities are only going to get worse; environmental protection re- quirementswillsoonpreventrecyclingofbiologicallytreatedwasteandanimalby-products. At the same time, however, new amendments to the EU Waste Framework Directive are requiring ever more complex sorting at source, which will significantly increase the vol- 24 ume of biowaste collected from 2022. T he likely fate of this ever-increasing stream of very costly (even without including the unpaid work required from householders) treated biowaste is, as with RDF, an incinerator. The waste management firms who lobby, alongside the green NGOs, for ever-more-complicated waste schemes and unnecessary additional lay- ers of waste management will thus be rewarded. The public will pay the price All this will undoubtedly make it much more likely that plastic litter will end up in the oceans, and the EU, USA and Japan have all been desperately trying to find countries – Viet- nam, Malaysia and Indonesia are the favourites – where they can now dump plastic waste. Data for the first few months of 2018 suggests that there has been a dramatic shift in the 41 destination of waste exports – from China to other countries in East Asia. T hese coun- tries have until now been staging posts, sorting waste ahead of onwards shipment to China. However, the rejected fraction still has to be dealt with, and since the waste management infrastructure in south-east Asia is much more primitive than in China, it remains unclear to what extent the rejected ‘recyclates’ end up in the oceans or are burned in the open. The 5 ,33,45 environmental and public health effects hardly need to be mentioned. Ho wever, it is unlikely that these small countries will be able to entirely replace China as a destination for waste, which will now pile up in richer countries. Clearly, the EU’s decision to focus on recycling and China’s closing itself to western waste exports together mean that the situation is going to get much worse. Solving the waste problem 6 Sinc e the Jambeck paper first appeared, there have been some odd ideas about how et al. to deal with the marine waste problem. Jambeck et al. themselves had this to say: H istorically, waste management by burying or burning waste was sufficient for inert or biodegradable waste, but the rapid growth of synthetic plastics in the waste stream requires a paradigm shift. Long-term solutions will likely include waste reduction and ‘downstream’ waste management strategies such as expanded recovery systems and extended producer responsibility... he anti-incineration and anti-landfilling bias is clear, and emphasised by the two papers T they cite in support of this position. The first one is a strange metaphysical paper, which 46 ends: Natur e does not respond to interdependence by seeking to minimize itself out of exis- tence, but by growing and flourishing. Similarly, the key to generating a productive and sustainable economy is not through strategies of damage control and minimization, but through nourishing the industrial metabolism. 8

17 I t is unclear how this metaphysical reasoning challenges the current waste management 47 as of the paper behind the EU’s paradigm with respect to plastics. The second citation w notoriously dysfunctional, inefficient and unhygienic producer responsibility scheme, which in addition to all its other flaws – causing leaks of waste to the environment being an obvious one – leaves internet traders in other parts of the world entirely unaffected. The ISWA paper, meanwhile, described two case studies, neither of which will help ad- dress marine litter prevention or the efficient use of resources. The first concerned Europe’s number one plastic recycler, the Netherlands, which is supposed to have achieved the high- est plastic recycling rate (67%) in the EU. However, a recent paper from the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Analysis has looked at the effects of Dutch recycling processes, and concludes they result in low-grade plastic of limited use, saving the country just 0.15% in 9 equivalent carbon emissions. W hat is worse, recycling sites are wondering what to do with ever-increasing piles of plastic now that China has banned imports; Dutch incineration ca- 48 pacity was overwhelmed immediately after the Chinese ban. T hereportalsohailsanewrefineryinBristolwhichproducesdieselfromplastic, nodoubt withthegenerousfinancialsupportofHerMajesty’sgovernment. Infact, heatandelectricity are much more efficiently generated in an MSW incinerator, and with a much lower carbon footprint as well. Marine plastic waste in the seas of Asia mostly comes from production in Asia itself, a problem that can be blamed, at least in part, on greens diverting the development agenda away from dull problems like municipal waste management and onto the sexier issues like climatechange. ButgreenconcernsarealsobehindtheEuropeancontributiontothemarine waste problem. The mirage of a circular economy has resulted in a series of badly designed, costly and complex waste collection schemes, and often non-functioning and environmen- tally harmful approaches to waste management. These all leak plastic to the environment. The solution to a problem caused by unthinking environmentalism is surely not more un- thinking environmentalism. Why would we want to risk environmental damage by pursuing the hopeless dream of a circular economy? The analysis above shows that the only sustain- able way forward – in both the developed and developing worlds – is to collect waste and 5 either dispose of it in properly managed landfills, preferably well away from rivers, or to incinerate it. Austria, Denmark and Sweden have been at the forefront of implementing sound MSW policies and should be seen as environmental leaders. However, their remarkable progress 49 in managing MSW (and, in Japan, sewage as well ) is now being compromised by the EU’s new anti-incineration stance. This stance is absurd, and involves a belief in a future utopia in which householders and businesses take part in ever more complex sorting schemes. It 50 is also driven in part by an unholy alliance of green NGOs and waste management firms a shared interest in having three trucks coming to take away waste, rather than a single with one that removes bags of mixed waste, hygienically sealed and ready to be burned. The irony is of course that, at least in EU, these multiple streams of waste meant for ‘recycling’ will probably all end up in the same place anyway – an incinerator. This paper represents the author’s views, and not necessarily those of his employer. 9

18 N otes 1. Jambeck JR Science ; 347 (6223), 768– et al. (2015) Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. 771. et al. Nature Communications 2. Lebreton LCM, ; (2017) River plastic emissions to the world’s oceans. 8: 15611. 3. EU’s plastic strategy http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:52018DC0 028. 4. Walsh DC (2002) Urban residential refuse composition and generation rates for the 20th century. Environmental Science and Technology ; 36: 4936–4942. 5. ISWA Marine Task Force (2017). Prevent marine plastic litter – now! http://marinelitter.iswa.org/fil eadmin/user_upload/Marine_Task_Force_Report_2017/ISWA_report_interactive.pdf. 6. Plastics Europe (2015) Plastics – the facts 2014/2015. Plastics Europe. http://goo.gl/vhcbEL. 7. Geyer T (2017) Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Science Advances ; 3(7): et al. e1700782. 8. Statista. Global oil consumption https://www.statista.com/statistics/265261/global-oil-consumpt ion-in-million-metric-tons/. 9. Boztas S (2017) ‘Plastic soup’ on the menu as new study shows recycling isn’t working. Dutch News. https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2017/09/plastic-soup-on-the-menu-as-new-study-shows- et al. recycling-isnt-working/ Original report: Verrips (2017) De circulaire economie van kunststof: van grondsttoffen tot avfal. CPB Achergronddocument. https://www.cpb.nl/sites/default/files/omn idownload/CPB-Achtergronddocument-13sept2017-De%20circulaire-economie-van-kunststof.pdf. 10. McGeough H (2017) How will China’s waste plastic ban impact the global recycling chain? The ban has potentially jeopardised prominent industries such as the recycled fibre industry. Wood MacKenzie. https://www.woodmac.com/news/opinion/china-waste-plastic-ban-global-recycling/. 11. Issue Brief (2017) How fracking boosts plastic industry. Food and Water Watch. https://www.fo odandwaterwatch.org/sites/default/files/ib_1702_fracking-plastic-web.pdf. 12. Keel TA (2017) The economics of PET recycling – Virgin PET overcapacity affects demand for recycled resin. , February 2017. http://magazine.recyclingtoday.com/article/februa Recycling Today ry-2017-plastics-recycling/the-economics-of-pet-recycling.aspx. 13. Montejo C. et al . (2010) Energy recovery of reject fraction of municipal solid waste resulting from Chemical Engineering Transactions the mechanical-biological treatment plants. ;21: 751–756. https:// www.researchgate.net/publication/268059141_Energy_Recovery_of_Reject_Fraction_of_Municipal _Solid_Waste_Resulting_from_the_Mechanical-Biological_Treatment_Plants. 14. Article 16; EC/98/2008. 15. Powell JT et al. (2016) Estimates of solid waste disposal rates and reduction targets for landfill gas emissions. Nature Climate Change ; 6: 162–165 16. EU press release. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-237_en.htm. 17. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2013) Mechanical biological treatment of municipal solid waste. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data /file221039/pb13890-treatment-solid-waste.pdf. 18. Greenpeace (2001) How to comply with the Landfill Directive without incineration: a Greenpeace blueprint. Greenpeace. http://greenpeace.it/inquinamento/raporti/comply.pdf. 19. Mazza A, et al. (2015) Illegal dumping of toxic waste and its effect on human health in Campania, Italy. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health ; 12(6): 6818–6831. 20. Greyl L et al. (2010) Waste crisis in Campania, Italy, CEECEG. http://www.ceecec.net/case-studie s/waste-crisis-in-campania-italy/. 21. Belgian dioxin feed crisis. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dioxin_affair. 22. Kinver M (2013) Italy waste campaigner wins 2013 Goldman Prize. BBC News, 15 April 2013. http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-22039871. 10

19 Lin H and Ma X (2012) Simulation of co-incineration of sewage sludge with municipal solid waste 23. Waste Management ; 32(3): 561–567. in a grate furnace incinerator. 24. Official Journal of the EU, L150 (60) 14 June 2018 https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/T XT/PDF/?uri=OJ:L:2018:150:FULL. 25. Tang J (2017) Urban mining – Removal and recovery of metals from municipal solid waste incin- eration ashes by a hydrometallurgical process, PhD thesis, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden 2017. http://publications.lib .chalmers.se/records/fulltext/248676/248676.pdf. 26. I should acknowledge that at least some credit is due to the EU; the waste incineration direc- tive of 2001, now part of the so called IPPC-directive, stipulated high emission standards for MSW incinerators. 27. Svensk avfallsförbränning bäst i världen. Avfall Sverige, Aug 29. 2009. (google: svensk avfallsrör- bränningen bäst i världen) www.avfallsverige.se 28. Bates M (2004) Managing landfill site fires in Northamptonshire. A research study by University College Northampton for the Environment and Transport Scrutiny Committee, Northamptonshire County Council October 2004. http://cfps.org.uk.surface3.vm.bytemark.co.uk/domains/cfps.org.uk/l ocal/media/library/677.pdf. et al. 29. Pipatti R (1996) Impact of waste management alternatives on greenhouse gas emissions (report in Finnish, but English abstract available). Technical Research Center Finland (VTT). http://ww w.vtt.fi/inf/pdf/julkaisut/1996/J811.pdf. 30. United Kingdom Without Incineration Network website. http://ukwin.org.uk/oppose-incinerati on/. How to Win Against Incinerators . Friends of the Earth. https://friendsofthe 31. Oppenheimer S (2000) earth.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/htw_against_incinerators.pdf. 32. EU (2018) A European strategy for plastics in a circular economy. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal- content/EN-HR/TXT/?locale=fr&uri=CELEX%3A52018DC0028. 33. Costas V (2014) Global recycling markets: plastic waste – a story for one player – China. Interna- tional Solid Waste Association. https://www.iswa.org/fileadmin/galleries/Task_Forces/TFGWM_Rep ort_GRM_Plastic_China_LR.pdf. 34. Darwall R (2017) . Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex Encounter Books. 35. SattertwhaiteD(2006)Inpursuitofahealthyurbanenvironment. In: ScalingUrbanEnvironmental Challenges From Local to Global and Back (Marcotullio PJ and McGranahan G, eds). Routledge. 36. Brundtland Commission (1987) Our Common Future . Oxford University Press. 37. Paunio M (2017) World needs a new sanitary revolution – sustainable development policies threaten public health in the developing world. https://www.acsh.org/news/2017/10/30/sustainabil ity-threatens-public-health-developing-world-12055. 38. Paunio M and Acharya A (2008) Environmental health and child survival – epidemiology, eco- nomics, experiences. Environment and Development series, World Bank, Washington DC. 39. I sent an e-mail to Jenna Jambeck and got an answer to my ‘deep questions’, that they are going to correct this error in their forthcoming publications. 40. Brooks, AL. et al. (2018) The Chinese import ban and its impact on global plastic waste trade. Science Advances ; 4(6): eaat0131. 41. Nolan G (2018) Axion: Government ‘clutching at straws’ over waste plastic exports. British Plastics and Rubber website, 1 June 2018. https://www.britishplastics.co.uk/Environment/axion-governme nt-clutching-at-straws-over-waste-plastic/. 42. Ambrose AD (2017) PET recycling – a means to save the planet. https://www.beroeinc.com/whi tepaper/pet-recycle/ 11

20 Baxter C and Hual L (2017) 24 reasons why China’s ban on foreign trash is a wake-up call for global 43. South China Morning Post waste exporters. , December 31. http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight- opinion/article/2126098/24-reasons-why-chinas-ban-foreign-trash-wake-call-global. 44. Boffey D (2018) Europe declares war on plastic – Brussels targets single-use plastics in an urgent Guardian clean-up plan that aims to make all packaging reusable or recyclable by 2030. , Jan 16. https: //www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/16/eu-declares-war-on-plastic-waste-2030. 45. Freytas-Tamara K (2018) Plastics pile up as China refuses to take the West’s recycling. New York Times , January 11. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/world/china-recyclables-ban.html. 46. Braungart M (2013) Upcycle to eliminate waste. Nature ; 494, 174–175. 47. Lindhqvist T and Lidgren K (1990), in FromtheCradletotheGrave–SixStudiesoftheEnvironmental Impact of Products . Ministry of the Environment, Stockholm, Sweden. 48. Plastic Soup Foundation (2018) Plastic waste mountain a big problem. Plastic Soup Foundation. https://www.plasticsoupfoundation.org/en/2018/01/plastic-waste-mountain-a-big-problem/. 49. Tsumori J (2014) Challenges and outlook related to municipal sewage sludge management in Japan. In: ISO TC275 Sludge/Biosolids Management Workshop, September 8, 2014: Burlington, On- tario, Canada. http://www.cwwa.ca/pdf_files/ISO-05_tsumori.pdf. 50. Simon F (2018) Worries mount over waste incineration as ‘renewable energy’. Euractiv 4 May. http s://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/worries-mount-over-waste-incineration-as-renewable- energy/.

21 A bout the Global Warming Policy Foundation he Global Warming Policy Foundation is an all-party and non-party think tank and a reg- T istered educational charity which, while openminded on the contested science of global warming, is deeply concerned about the costs and other implications of many of the poli- cies currently being advocated. Our main focus is to analyse global warming policies and their economic and other im- plications. Our aim is to provide the most robust and reliable economic analysis and advice. Above all we seek to inform the media, politicians and the public, in a newsworthy way, on the subject in general and on the misinformation to which they are all too frequently being subjected at the present time. The key to the success of the GWPF is the trust and credibility that we have earned in the eyes of a growing number of policy makers, journalists and the interested public. The GWPF is funded overwhelmingly by voluntary donations from a number of private individuals and charitable trusts. In order to make clear its complete independence, it does not accept gifts from either energy companies or anyone with a significant interest in an energy company. Views expressed in the publications of the Global Warming Policy Foundation are those of the authors, not those of the GWPF, its trustees, its Academic Advisory Council mem- bers or its directors.

22 GLOBAL WARMING POLICY FOUNDA THE TION irector D Benny Peiser USTEES BOARD OF TR L ord Lawson (Chairman) Peter Lilley Lord Donoughue Charles Moore Lord Fellowes Baroness Nicholson RtRevdDrPeterForster, BishopofChester Graham Stringer MP Sir Martin Jacomb Lord Turnbull ACADEMIC ADVISORY C OUNCIL rofessor Christopher Essex (Chairman) Professor Richard Lindzen P Sir Samuel Brittan Professor Ross McKitrick Sir Ian Byatt Professor Robert Mendelsohn Dr John Constable Professor Garth Paltridge Professor Vincent Courtillot Professor Ian Plimer Professor Freeman Dyson Professor Gwythian Prins Christian Gerondeau Professor Paul Reiter Professor Larry Gould Dr Matt Ridley Professor William Happer Sir Alan Rudge Professor David Henderson Professor Nir Shaviv Professor Ole Humlum Professor Henrik Svensmark Professor Terence Kealey Professor Anastasios Tsonis Bill Kininmonth Professor Fritz Vahrenholt Professor Deepak Lal Dr David Whitehouse

23 GWPF BRIEFINGS Andrew Turnbull The Really Inconvenient Truth or ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’ 1 The Greening of the Sahel 2 Philipp Mueller The Truth about Greenhouse Gases 3 William Happer 4 Gordon Hughes The Impact of Wind Power on Household Energy Bills 5 Matt Ridley The Perils of Confirmation Bias The Abundance of Fossil Fuels 6 Philipp Mueller 7 Indur Goklany Is Global Warming the Number One Threat to Humanity? The Climate Model and the Public Purse 8 Andrew Montford UK Energy Security: Myth and Reality 9 Philipp Mueller Precipitation, Deluge and Flood 10 Andrew Montford On the Beach 11 Susan Crockford 12 Madhav Khandekar Floods and Droughts in the Indian Monsoon Unhealthy Exaggeration 13 Indur Goklany Twenty Good Reasons not to Worry about Polar Bears 14 Susan Crockford 15 Various The Small Print 16 Susan Crockford The Arctic Fallacy 17 Indur Goklany The Many Benefits of Carbon Dioxide 18 Judith Curry The Climate Debate in the USA The Papal Academies’ Broken Moral Compass 19 Indur Goklany 20 Donoughue and Forster The Papal Encyclical: a Critical Christian Response 21 Andrew Montford Parched Earth Policy: Drought, Heatwave and Conflict 22 David Campbell The Paris Agreement and the Fifth Carbon Budget 23 Various The Stern Review: Ten Years of Harm 24 Judith Curry Climate Models for the Layman 25 Fritz Vahrenholt Germany’s Energiewende : a Disaster in the Making 26 Hughes, Aris, Constable Offshore Wind Strike Prices 27 Michael Miersch Truly Green? 28 Susan Crockford 20 Good Reasons not to Worry About Polar Bears: Update 29 Mikko Paunio Sacrificing the Poor: The Lancet on ‘pollution’ 30 Mikko Paunio Kicking Away the Energy Ladder 31 Bill Gray Flaws in Applying Greenhouse Warming to Climate Variability 32 Mikko Paunio Save the Oceans: Stop Recycling Plastic For further information about the Global Warming Policy Foundation, please visit our website at www.thegwpf.org. The GWPF is a registered charity, number 1131448.

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