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GoGreenNation News: Australia's nuclear waste debate heats up with Aukus pact
GoGreenNation News: Australia's nuclear waste debate heats up with Aukus pact

In a recent inquiry, concerns were raised about Australia potentially becoming a dumping ground for international nuclear waste due to the Aukus agreement.Tory Shepherd reports for The Guardian.In short:The Aukus deal might enable the US and UK to ship their nuclear waste to Australia, sparking debate over nuclear safety and waste management.Critics argue that the proposed legislation lacks transparency and could compromise Australia's environmental and public health.The defense minister counters fears of international waste dumping, emphasizing Australia's commitment to stringent nuclear safety and waste management standards.Key quote:“Especially when it’s viewed in the context of the contested and still unresolved issue of domestic intermediate-level waste management, the clear failure of our Aukus partners to manage their own naval waste, the potential for this bill to be a poison portal to international waste and the failure of defence to effectively address existing waste streams, most noticeably PFAS.”— Dave Sweeney, Australian Conservation Foundation’s nuclear free campaignerWhy this matters:While the Aukus pact primarily focuses on providing Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, it inherently involves the use of nuclear technology, raising questions about the management of nuclear materials, including waste. Worldwide, all kinds of waste, such as illegal electronic waste, are being transferred to other regions.

GoGreenNation News: Zero- and low-waste businesses band together against plastic pollution
GoGreenNation News: Zero- and low-waste businesses band together against plastic pollution

Jessica Georges loves the beaches of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where she lives. But a few years ago, she realized even the most pristine parts of town weren’t immune to plastic pollution. “You can’t walk three yards on most beach days and not run into some sort of plastic,” she told EHN. Increasingly bothered by what she saw, she created a low-waste business — Green Road Refill — to sell low-cost and low-waste goods to her community. Now, she and other low-waste businesses are strengthening their efforts to reduce plastic pollution via the National Business Coalition for the Oceans, a nationwide organization of businesses supported by nonprofit Oceana. The coalition focuses on advancing federal, state and local policies to improve ocean health, in part by curbing single-use plastics. Businesses involved in the coalition work for plastics policy change by sending letters, signing petitions, testifying at hearings and educating customers. “We’re really happy to be part of a coalition where others are bringing their perspectives and their solutions, and we can all join forces and create the systems change that’s necessary,” Lauren Sweeney, a coalition member and co-founder of reusable packaging company Deliver Zero, told EHN. Plastic policy progressOceana’s business coalition emerged in 2021, after a partnership between Oceana, government officials and regional businesses helped ban oil and gas drilling along the Atlantic and eastern Gulf coasts. It became clear businesses voicing their concerns had the power to convince lawmakers, said Claudia Davis, the coordinator of the coalition.The coalition provides tools to business owners to help them learn about policy issues related to the oceans and gives them accessible ways to participate in policy efforts. Davis organizes members to sign petitions, author opinion pieces to publish in news outlets, testify at hearings and meet with lawmakers about relevant legislation. Any business interested in ocean health can join. Now, 250 business owners, from diving shops to restaurants to refilleries (shops where customers can refill reusable packaging with home and personal care products), are involved. “We really want to encourage collective action from the business community, because that's what's going to deliver policy victories that make a change for the most people,” Davis told EHN. At the federal level, the coalition is working to pass the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, which would set nationwide plastics reduction targets, ban certain single-use plastic products and create a nationwide beverage container refund program. The coalition is working to expand the number of states and local governments with similar plastic legislation. In 2022, the coalition worked with multiple businesses in New York City to pass the “skip the stuff” law, which prohibits New York City restaurants from providing single-use plastics in takeout orders unless the customer asks. While the law will help reduce plastic pollution, it will also help restaurants save money, Davis said.Sweeney and Larasati Vitoux, another coalition member who runs a New York City refillery called the Maison Jar, testified for the bill at a hearing in front of New York City’s Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection.“I think it really made a difference to have members of the community who were saying “This is important to me not just as an individual, not just because I want to see less trash in my community, but [because] it's gonna save me and all of us money in the long run,”’ Davis said.A business perspectiveLow-waste businesses can provide a crucial perspective to lawmakers concerned about how policy changes will impact the economy. “Other businesses will come forward and say these bills are terrible for business,” Sweeney said. “Actually, you can run a business without polluting the planet and the oceans. The goal of these organizations is to counter the narrative that plastic reduction solutions are inherently anti-business.”Bringing business voices to environmental advocacy work is critical, said Jennifer Congdon, deputy director for Beyond Plastics, an environmental nonprofit not involved in Oceana’s coalition. Policymakers can get a lot of reassurance from hearing that environmental policies pushed by advocates “are going to shift the economy, but they’re not going to harm the economy,” she told EHN. “There’s a path forward for economic growth.” "You can run a business without polluting the planet and the oceans. The goal of these organizations is to counter the narrative that plastic reduction solutions are inherently anti-business.” - Lauren Sweeney, Deliver ZeroAt Green Road Refill, Georges sells more than 40 plant-based products such as dish soaps, shampoos and detergents. Running a refill shop is difficult work with slim margins, said Georges and Katie Rodgers-Hubbard, who runs a similar refillery in Savannah, Georgia, called Lite Foot Company.Bills that restrict single-use plastics give businesses like theirs a leg up by shifting the external costs of plastic like its environmental and public health harms — back to the businesses. “That makes plastic less competitive against other materials and other methods of delivering goods to people,” said Congdon. Preventing plastic pollutionWhile they work toward policy action, the businesses themselves are helping to fight pollution, too. In 2023, Rodgers-Hubbard decided that running a low-waste business and joining other nonprofit efforts wasn’t enough. She started a new, nonprofit branch of her business: Lite Foot Environmental Foundation. The foundation is creating a grade-school curriculum to educate students about plastic pollution and reuse. They also host clothing and book swaps and clothing repair days to encourage the Savannah community to extend the life of belongings. “We’re hoping to push the narrative,” Rodgers-Hubbard said. “Let’s fix things, let’s buy things of quality.” And at Green Road Refill, Georges doesn’t only sell closed-loop products —her suppliers are closed-loop, too. She buys many of her products in 30- to 55-gallon containers from a company called Rustic Strength, which she then sends back to the company once the containers are empty. When considering what to put on her shelves, she prioritizes products with biodegradable and non-toxic ingredients. Georges also focuses on educating customers and gives talks to libraries and elementary schools about plastic pollution. She asks everyone who gets a refill at her shop to contribute to an art installation made of non-recyclable bottle caps—a great way to start conversations about reducing one’s plastic footprint, she said. She passes information and petitions from Oceana on to customers in her monthly newsletters. “When I first started, I had to really do a lot of work explaining what plastic was and why it's important to reduce your own plastic footprint,” she said. But now, the people who visit her shop are more familiar with refilleries and living a low-waste lifestyle. “Businesses that exist almost for the sole purpose of reducing single use plastic are growing,” said Sweeney. “This is an exciting sector and the U.S. could develop more leadership in this sector by actually passing policy more quickly.”

GoGreenNation News: What the Hell Are “Plastic Offsets”?
GoGreenNation News: What the Hell Are “Plastic Offsets”?

Plastic is just about everywhere, piling up in streams, landfills and even our bloodstreams and placentas. The United Nations agrees that something must be done, given both the excess of waste and the considerable plant-heating emissions involved in producing it, almost entirely from coal, oil and gas. Yet fossil fuel and chemicals companies see a great future in plastics. Both they and the companies that use these products are reluctant to find alternatives. So, as with greenhouse gas emissions, plastics polluters are now gravitating toward a scheme that would let them have it both ways: let them keep making and selling plastics while claiming to be part of the solution. That idea is plastic offset credits—which, according to supporters, offer the fantastical promise of “plastic neutral” plastic.Plastic offset credits are modeled on carbon offsets: A company that uses or produces plastic can purchase credits that correspond to reductions in plastic waste elsewhere, just as drillers can buy up credits that correspond to patches of forest that will draw enough carbon down from the atmosphere to “offset” the carbon they produce. Purchasing credits is intended to create flexibility for companies that might need extra time to reduce their own emissions, whether to comply with government regulations—like in California’s cap and trade system—or voluntarily, as with airlines that promise carbon neutral flights. Third-parties, often non-profits, approve and monitor credit-generating projects to ensure they correspond to real-world emissions reductions.That’s how it’s supposed to work, anyway. Carbon credit markets, however, now face intense scrutiny for fueling land grabs in the developing world, displacing indigenous communities, and furthering human rights abuses. Among the most damning research on carbon offsets shows that they simply aren’t very good at offsetting carbon, and simply grant polluters a lifeline to continue on with business as usual. An investigation published last fall by The Guardian and the nonprofit watchdog Corporate Accountability found that 78 percent of the top 50 carbon-offset projects are “likely junk.” The third parties that approve credit-generating projects have also had their failures exposed. An extensive exposé by The Guardian, German newspaper Die Zeit, and SourceMaterial, a non-profit newsroom, revealed last year that at least 90 percent of credits generated in rainforests by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS)—an industry leader, accounting for roughly two-thirds of credits on the voluntary carbon market—were “phantom credits” that didn’t respond to any real reductions in greenhouse gases. The NGO that administers the VCS is called Verra, and has vehemently refuted these and other allegations. Verra—the world’s biggest issuer of carbon credits—is now one of the loudest voices pushing to expand plastic credits as means of dealing with plastic waste. Compared to decades’ old carbon markets, plastics crediting is a new and relatively small space, having only started up in earnest in 2021 via the 3R Initiative to use a “market-based approach that will scale up recovery & recycling activities and increase accountability for plastic waste reduction efforts.”Verra is a “technical founding member,” providing expertise on accounting methodologies, auditing and registry management; “corporate founding members” include Danone and Nestle. Currently, just seven projects have received approval for inclusion in Verra’s registry, which the group’s website says is the result of “a rigorous development and assessment process.” Dozens of others are awaiting approval. Another exchange—the Singapore-based Plastics Credit Exchange—has already sold millions of dollars worth of credits, including (according to PCX’s website) to the Filipino subsidiaries of Nestle, Colgate-Palmolive Co. and Pepsi-Cola. Several smaller companies have popped up, too. Most projects involve funding either waste processing facilities or offering additional funds to waste collection efforts, like beach clean-ups or waste pickers in the informal economy. What this would actually do to reduce plastic waste, given that most plastic isn’t recyclable by any reasonable definition and seems to generate an abundance of worrisome microplastics when it is recycled, is unclear.There are currently no industry standards for what these credit-generating projects should look like or how credits are issued. Evidence so far hasn’t been promising. A waste processing facility that was at one time registered by Verra and backed by Danone has been suspended from selling credits following allegations it’d been built too close to a Balinese community in Indonesia, Greenpeace investigative outlet Unearthed reported late last month. Verra suspended its accreditation of the project last May amid complaints from shareholders and residents, and is currently reviewing the project. It’s also reviewing another facility in Bali that had been registered with the group’s plastics program in December 2022; Danone has ended its support for both plants, but continues to back several processing facilities in Indonesia to further its pledge of recovering more plastic than it uses in the country by 2025. Despite these troubles, the World Bank has granted its blessing to plastics offsetting, including for Verra-registered projects in Indonesia. Earlier this year, the pair announced a $100 million plastic credits bond to fund Verra-accredited plastic collection and recycling projects there and in Ghana. Verra, meanwhile, has been eager to ingratiate itself into ongoing UN negotiations over a legally binding treaty to end plastic waste, the fourth round of which wrapped up last week in Ottawa, Canada. “Investment in plastic waste collection and recycling infrastructure ensures that plastic waste downstream is recovered and recirculated, repurposed, or appropriately managed,” the group writes on its website. “Through the issuance of Plastic Credits to certified plastic waste collection and recycling projects, Verra’s Plastic Program drives finance toward activities that establish and scale this waste management infrastructure.” Neither Verra nor the World Bank responded to a request for comment on this article in time for publication.Details of what a global plastics treaty might look like are still very much up for debate: Will each country have its own pledge to reduce plastic waste along a certain timeline, as in the Paris Agreement? Will the targets themselves be legally binding, or will countries only be mandated to set them? Which countries are going to pay for what? Advocates, though, are worried about the potential role that plastic offset credits might play, and possibility that rich nations will back them as a substitute for financing poorer countries’ efforts to end plastic pollution. Plastic offsets, critics argue, could also serve as an excuse for corporations and governments to continue on with business as usual. “We have 30 years of experience with the carbon market and 30 years of seeing problems there. Verra, the World Bank and others are getting up on stages and saying there are no problems, everything works great and now we’re going to apply that logic to plastic because it’s been proven in so many other places,” says Neil Tangri, Senior Science and Policy Director at the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). “There’s an absolutely steadfast refusal to learn the lessons of the carbon markets,” now, despite myriad controversies, a well-established part of emissions reductions efforts.The two problems—plastic and greenhouse gas pollution—aren’t unrelated. A study published last month by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories finds that the production of plastics currently accounts for 5.3 percent of total global greenhouse emissions, more than double the emissions created by aviation. It’s also growing rapidly; production could triple by mid-century. If every other sector were to somehow decarbonize this year, plastics production would still push the world beyond the limit outlined in the Paris Agreement, which was to keep warming “well below” 1.5 degrees Celsius. Plastic production would blow through the emissions required to keep that goal in reach—known as a carbon budget—as early as 2060, and by 2083 at the latest. To “keep 1.5 alive,” as U.S. politicians like to say they are doing, primary plastics production would need to decrease by between 12 and 17 percent per year, starting this year, per an analysis of the Lawrence Livermore study by Tangri, who served as an expert reviewer on that report.Not unlike UN climate talks, the UN’s plastics treaty negotiations have attracted a steadily growing crowd of corporate interest with a vested interest in making sure that doesn’t happen. The UN handed out 196 passes to fossil fuel and chemical industry lobbyists at the Canadian talks last month, up 37 percent from the meeting held in Nairobi last November, according to an analysis by the Center for International and Environmental Law. Industry interests had a larger overall presence in Ottawa than the 180 delegates from countries in the European Union; they outnumbered delegates representing Pacific Small Island Developing States two to one.While the negotiators’ purported goal to “end plastic pollution” might seem to imply some overall reduction in the amount of plastic being produced, plastics producers and the countries in which they reside aren’t keen on that. The United States, joined by Gulf oil producers, Russia and China, have sought to avoid talk of concrete targets for reducing primary polymer production, preferring to focus on waste management. “The United States has systematically tried to derail the process,” says Dharmesh Shah, a senior campaigner at CIEL who attended the talks. “They’re doing things that are extremely problematic on the issue of production and reduction, especially.” Fossil fuel-producing countries’ and corporations’ emphasis on waste management aligns well with the promise of plastics offset programs: essentially, to offer financing to waste management efforts in the Global South. Even rich countries with robust waste management infrastructure, though, have not managed to overcome the fact that very little plastic can actually be recycled. Less than 10 percent of plastic waste has ever been recycled, and so-called “advanced” or chemical recycling have struggled to stay afloat amid massive costs and technical issues. The New York Times reported last month that one such facility in Indiana—which aimed to recycle 100,000 tons of plastic a year by 2021—had only ever recycled 2,000 tons of plastic as of late 2023. Part of what makes plastics recycling so difficult is that the term plastics refers to a wide range of chemical polymers which cannot be processed together; for some of those materials, recycling is virtually impossible. Much of what waste managers in the United States can’t deal with here is shipped abroad, to many of the places where plastic credits are being generated. “The reason that the Global South doesn’t have adequate waste management is because it’s being flooded with plastic. No waste management system in the world does a good job with plastic. We pour billions of dollars into waste management, have door-to-door collection and are still the top source of plastics in the ocean,” Tangri says of the United States. “The notion that you’re ever going to be able to catch up with plastic waste generation that’s growing by 4 percent every year is absurd. Thre’s not enough money in the world to catch up with that.”Among the biggest concerns with plastic offsetting, Tangri adds, is the concept of additionality. Credits, that is, are premised on the idea that their sale is financing projects that wouldn’t happen otherwise. A recent report Tangri co-authored with colleagues in the Break Free From Plastics campaign shows that 83 percent of projects applying for approval by Verra have been in operation for over a year, and will receive retroactive credits for waste collection efforts that are already underway. Forty-two percent of projects in that queue have already been operating for 5 years or more. “If you’re paying people to collect waste that they were already collecting, is there anything that they’re going to start collecting more of that they would otherwise leave behind? It’s very unlikely. If there’s no market for black plastic then they’re not going to pick it up,” says Tangri. “You’re giving a bit of money to someone who otherwise wouldn’t have it, but the problem on the other side is that you’re selling that plastic credit to some company in the Global North which is now claiming plastic neutrality.” Focusing on what happens to plastics after they’re already made, moreover, doesn’t address the fact that roughly 75 percent of the of the greenhouse gas emissions generated by plastics production, researchers at Lawrence Livermore find, are created prior to polymerization, i.e. to actually making finished plastic products. Neither does it deal with the abundance of rare cancers, breathing difficulties and numerous other serious health conditions that people who live fenceline with petrochemical plants have been forced to deal with. “The environmental risks of plastics are manifold and they happen throughout the life cycle,” Shah told me. “This is just an approach that is designed to delay or distract from the real issue which is production and reduction. We cannot solve the plastics crisis without reducing our production of plastics.”

Cinema Verde Presents: Trashed
Cinema Verde Presents: Trashed

Past Presentation | We buy it, we bury it, we burn it and then we ignore it. Does anyone think about what happens to all the trash we produce? We keep making things that do not break down. We have all heard these horrifying facts before, but with Jeremy Irons as our guide, we discover what happens to the billion or so tons of waste that goes unaccounted for each year. On a boat in the North Pacific he faces the reality of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the effect of plastic waste on marine life. We learn that chlorinated dioxins and other man-made Persistent Organic Pollutants are attracted to the plastic fragments. These are eaten by fish, which absorb the toxins. We then eat the fish, accumulating more poisonous chemicals in our already burdened bodies. Meanwhile, global warming, accelerated by these emissions from landfill and incineration, is melting the ice-caps and releasing decades of these old poisons, which had been stored in the ice, back into the sea. And we learn that some of the solutions are as frightening and toxic as the problem itself. Academy Award winning actor Jeremy Irons is no stranger to taking centre stage. But his role as our guide in Trashed highlighting solutions to the pressing environmental problems facing us all, could well be his most important yet. “We’ve made this movie, because there are so many people who feel strongly the urgent need for the problem of ‘waste’ and ‘sustainability’ to be addressed,” Irons says. “There is an equally urgent need for the most imaginative and productive solutions to this troublesome subject to be understood and shared by as many communities as possible throughout the world. This is where movies can play such an important role, educating society, bringing ‘difficult’ subjects to the broadest possible audience."

GoGreenNation News: Paused Ohio chemical recycling plant puts spotlight on Appalachia as “prime target” for the controversial practice
GoGreenNation News: Paused Ohio chemical recycling plant puts spotlight on Appalachia as “prime target” for the controversial practice

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — On a bright, cold day in February, Akim Lattermore stood in front of her house gesturing toward the site of a proposed facility that would convert old tires, electronic waste and plastic into fuel.The site, owned by SOBE Thermal Energy Systems, is currently home to crumbling old buildings and a natural-gas-powered steam heat generating unit. It’s less than half a mile from Lattermore’s home, visible from her front yard, which bears a sign with a picture of a black plume of smoke and the message “Stop SOBE. We have enough toxic air pollution.”“I’m a two-time cancer survivor,” Lattermore told Environmental Health News (EHN). “I believe that our environment has a lot to do with it.”Youngstown has a long industrial history and is still home to numerous sources of industrial pollution, including a steel plant and other metal fabricators, a concrete plant and a hazardous waste processing facility. Youngstown’s polluting industries released 80,600 pounds of toxic chemicals into air and water in 2022, including carcinogenic heavy metals like lead, nickel and chromium compounds, and possible carcinogens like ethylbenzene, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Toxics Release Inventory. Residents like Lattermore fear that SOBE’s proposed chemical recycling plant — currently on hold after the city passed a one-year moratorium — will only add to this toxic burden. “I’m a two-time cancer survivor. I believe that our environment has a lot to do with it.” - Akim Lattermore, Youngstown, Ohio, residentThere are proposals in the works for similar chemical recycling plants across the country. According to a 2023 report by the nonprofit organization Beyond Plastics, 11 such facilities had already been constructed in the U.S. as of September 2023, with one closing this year. Proposals for projects similar to SOBE’s throughout the Ohio River Valley have also met with community resistance — but more are likely on the way. “Appalachia is definitely a prime target for chemical recycling,” Jess Conard, Appalachia director of the nonprofit Beyond Plastics, told EHN. “There are often big tax subsidies available for these kinds of industries in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, and it’s part of the culture of this region that people feel like they have to make health sacrifices to put food on the table, as we’ve seen with extractive industries like coal mining and fracking.”At least two other chemical recycling plants in Ohio have received state or local subsidies, according to a 2023 Beyond Plastics’s report. Alterra, located in Akron, Ohio, received a $1.6 million state loan and support from the city of Akron in the form of various discounts, including a $1 per year property lease in return for “a percentage of the project’s future cash flow,” while Purecycle in Ironton, Ohio, received $250 million in revenue bonds from the Southern Ohio Port Authority. Chemical recycling facilities may also receive federal subsidies through numerous programs, including the Department of Energy’s $25 million Strategy for Plastic Innovation, grants and loans from the Department of Defense and the Department of Agriculture, and the federal Inflation Reduction Act. While these projects plow ahead promising an answer to the plastics crisis, communities are concerned about the impacts. “Right now there’s no proof that this is safe,” Tom Hetrick, president of Youngstown City Council, which passed the year-long moratorium, told EHN. Chemical recycling controversy Chemical recycling is an umbrella term for processes that use heat, chemicals or both to break down plastic waste into component parts for reuse as plastic feedstocks or as fuel. These processes are different from conventional or mechanical plastic recycling, which breaks down plastic waste physically but not at a molecular level. Only 5 to 6% of plastic waste gets recycled in the U.S., and proponents of chemical recycling say it could help create a truly circular economy. “We’re not going to create circularity for plastics with one single solution,” Chris Layton, director of sustainability for specialty plastics at Eastman Chemical Company, told EHN. “We’re going to have to eliminate some plastics we really don't need, figure out ways to reduce and reuse and maximize what we can do for mechanical and advanced recycling.” However, opponents say chemical recycling facilities worsen climate change and emit toxic chemicals like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins and other persistent pollutants; volatile organic compounds and heavy metals. Lattermore worries about the cumulative effects. “So many other members of my family who have lived in this house have also had cancer. My grandma, my dad, my sister,” Lattermore said. “I have four grandkids, two daughters. How are they going to survive living so close to that type of waste?” The American Chemistry Council is advocating for relaxed environmental regulations for these types of facilities, encouraging states to reclassify them from solid waste facilities to manufacturing facilities, which requires less rigorous permitting applications, reduces regulatory oversight of air emissions and toxic waste and allows them to seek additional taxpayer subsidies. Ohio is one of 24 states that have already done this, along with Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Mississippi — a grouping that encompasses most of the Ohio River Valley and much of Appalachia. “We’re not going to create circularity for plastics with one single solution.” Chris Layton, Eastman Chemical CompanyMeanwhile, environmental advocates are fighting to stop these plants from being constructed. “Even if all of the advanced recycling plants in the U.S. were functioning at full capacity with no issues, they would only be managing 1.3% of global plastic waste we currently have,” Conard said. “The plastic industry is pushing this technology as a solution so they can continue manufacturing new plastic.”Environmental justice concerns Lattermore was among a group of local residents who fought to stop SOBE’s plant in Youngstown. They distributed fliers, called policymakers and knocked on doors to gather hundreds of petition signatures. Eventually, they garnered support from Youngstown City Council. “I think one of my primary concerns is the location,” Hetrick said. “It's in a busy neighborhood. There are residential neighbors, two popular bars right there, a restaurant caddy corner, a church on the other side, a five or six story jail a half block in the other direction, and a bunch of Youngstown State University student housing right there.” “It’s also an environmental justice area, and in terms of environmental risks and hazards it just seems like a terrible place to put this kind of operation,” he explained. In September, a representative from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a letter to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency noting that the project “raises potential environmental justice concerns” because Youngstown ranks in the 80th percentile in the state for pollution from include ozone, diesel particulate matter, air toxics cancer risk, traffic proximity, lead paint, Superfund site Proximity, Risk Management Program (RMP) facility proximity, hazardous waste proximity, underground storage tanks and wastewater discharge. “The population living in the area around the facility is significantly comprised of people of color, linguistically isolated households (Spanish language), those with low income, those with less than a high school education and a high unemployment rate,” the letter noted, before advising the Ohio EPA to “conduct a more thorough environmental justice analysis of appropriate scope to inform the permitting decision.” In December, Youngstown City Council unanimously voted to adopt a one-year moratorium on pyrolysis, gasification or combustion of tires, plastics and electronic waste. Council said they intended to spend the year further researching these types of facilities. "In terms of environmental risks and hazards it just seems like a terrible place to put this kind of operation.” - Tom Hetrick, president of Youngstown City CouncilWhen Hetrick researched other facilities, he found stories about dangerous accidents and fires at a chemical recycling plant in Ashley, Indiana, which amplified his concerns. In a statement about the moratorium on its website, SOBE said the company “respects this cautious approach and is committed to working closely with city officials and community members.” SOBE did not respond to a request for an interview. In February, the Ohio EPA issued an air permit for SOBE’s proposed plant, prompting outcry from the community. “I am deeply disappointed in the Ohio EPA and their decision to grant a permit to SOBE,” Hetrick said in a statement after the announcement. “It’s clear to me that the Ohio EPA spent months copying, categorizing and calculating the hundreds of comments from concerned Youngstown residents, but not actually listening to us or responding in any meaningful way.”

GoGreenNation News: Everything you need to know for the fourth round of global plastic pollution treaty talks
GoGreenNation News: Everything you need to know for the fourth round of global plastic pollution treaty talks

The fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international, legally binding plastic pollution treaty will take place from April 23 to April 29 in Ottawa, Canada.In the first three sessions of treaty talks, negotiators from about 175 countries — along with industry representatives, environmentalists and others — met to advance a treaty to address global plastic pollution. What’s at stake in the plastic treaty talks? The plastic crisis is threatening both the planet and human and wildlife health. Global plastic waste is set to almost triple by 2060.The world generates roughly 400 million tons of plastic waste each year.Less than 10% of plastic ever made has been recycled. The treaty is the first international attempt to address this. What’s the state of the plastic treaty? Consensus was elusive at the last round of talks in Kenya. There is a High Ambition Coalition of countries that wants an end to plastic pollution by 2040. There is also a Global Coalition for Plastics Sustainability — largely nations economically reliant on fossil fuels such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, Cuba, China and Bahrain — that has positioned itself as the counterbalance to the High Ambition Coalition and is pushing for a larger focus on addressing plastic waste (via chemical and mechanical recycling and other means) rather than plastic bans or production limits. The U.S. is not part of either. Some sticking points include: Regulating the chemicals in plastic productionPlastic production capsThe role of chemical recycling and bioplastics Where can I learn more about the plastic treaty?You can see all of the details of the upcoming treaty meeting at the UN Environment Programme website. Want to learn more broadly about the treaty and how plastic pollution impacts our health? Our newsroom has been hard at work on exploring these issues. Below we have articles to help you understand the treaty process and progress, plastic impacts to our health and chemical recycling and bioplastics.And follow our newsroom on X, Instagram or Facebook to stay up-to-date on this historic treaty.Plastic treaty coverage “Plastic will overwhelm us:” Scientists say health should be the core of global plastic treaty Opinion: Pete Myers discusses the "Health Scientists' Global Plastic Treaty" Plastics treaty draft underway, but will the most impacted countries be included? Opinion: UN plastics treaty should prioritize health and climate change Op-Ed: How the United Nations could avoid silencing voices during Plastic Treaty negotiations Scientists: US needs to support a strong global agreement to curb plastic pollutionPlastic and our healthWhat is plastic pollution? Plastic chemicals are more numerable and less regulated than previously thought Recycling plastics “extremely problematic” due to toxic chemical additives Every stage of plastic production and use is harming human health Massive new database on how plastic chemicals harm our healthChemical recycling and bioplasticsWhat is chemical recycling? Bioplastics: sustainable solution or distraction from the plastic waste crisis? Chemical recycling grows — along with concerns about its environmental impacts This will be a big year in shaping the future of chemical recycling Chemical recycling “a dangerous deception” for solving plastic pollution: Report Paused Ohio chemical recycling plant puts spotlight on Appalachia as “prime target” for the controversial practice Residents fear Pennsylvania, West Virginia chemical recycling proposals will deepen fossil fuel ties and pollution problems Q&A: Director of sustainability at Eastman Chemical Company talks chemical recyclingLatest chemical recycling plant closing spurs concern over the industry’s viability

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