Absolute liability should be applied in deaths and injuries at its plastics factory in India
Thursday, 28 May 2020
Polystyrene plastic is familiar to consumers in the form of coffee cups and take-out food containers. However, many people do not realize that the building block of this common plastic – styrene – is a probable human carcinogen with a variety of toxic effects. The recent LG tragedy in India demonstrates the toxicity of polystyrene production on community residents. The parent company and its Indian subsidiary should be held fully accountable and absolute liability should be applied.
(Gothenburg, Sweden): A ground-breaking study analyzing the effects of toxic chemicals in plastic children’s toys and consumer products on human cells demonstrates that toys made from some recycled plastics are toxic to humans and can significantly contribute to the dioxin daily intake level for children who mouth their toys. The levels of toxic chemicals revealed in all the samples studied were comparable to levels found in hazardous wastes, such as the ash from waste incinerators.
A team of researchers from Arnika, BioDetection Systems, and International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) determined that toys made of black plastic, which is often derived from recycled e-waste plastics with flame retardant chemicals, are toxic to human cells. The study reveals that children mouthing toys made from this plastic are at risk of dangerous health effects from the toxic material. It is the first study to establish the toxic effects of plastic toys made of recycled plastics on human cells.
The letter asks the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rescind or replace its "free pass to pollute" policy allowing companies to suspend critical health and safety monitoring with no public disclosure during the coronavirus pandemic.The U.S. EPA and Congress should be working to protect communities and workers, not unnecessarily endangering them by making them more vulnerable to disease from toxic pollution in the middle of a global pandemic.
For decades plastic producers have been manufacturing a lie about the recyclability of plastics to justify a toxic and unsustainable industry. The industry manipulation is revealed in an important documentary, Plastic Wars, a Frontline investigation from PBS and NPR. IPEN leader Yuyun Ismawati is featured in the exposé guiding the film crew through communities where a tsunami of plastic waste has been dumped in Indonesia. The images of plastic waste inundating streets and looming over people’s homes is the tip of the iceberg. International shipments of plastic waste from countries in the global north, including the US, EU, Australia and others, shipped and dumped in in the global south, are poisoning food sources and creating dangerous public health hazard. The recent report Plastic Waste Poison’s Indonesia’s Food Chain demonstrates how toxic plastics inundate food sources and imperil human health and the environment.
The Basel Ban Amendment forbids the export of hazardous waste for recycling or disposal from Annex VII countries (OECD Member States, EU Member States or Liechtenstein) to non-Annex VII countries (primarily developing and transition countries). The Ban Amendment benefits all countries. By prohibiting hazardous waste exports from developed countries, the Basel Ban Amendment helps protect developing and transition countries. For developed countries, the Basel Ban Amendment provides incentives for both waste prevention and green design. Currently, there is a large gap between the number of Basel Convention Parties (187) and number of Ban Amendment ratifications.
IPEN Participating Organizations in Australia, Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, Croatia, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, and Senegal also conducted activities to encourage governments to ratify the Ban Amendment. These activities and the Guide are part of IPEN's Toxics-Free Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Campaign, and relate to SDGs 3, 6, 8, 11, 12 and 13. Details about the activities can be found here.
IPEN’s 2020 Global Meeting and Forum on Chemicals and Waste took place in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, from the 6th – 10th of February. More than 100 environmental, health and human rights leaders from over 50 countries came together to share the work they do locally and globally to ensure a just and healthy future for everyone by eliminating harm to human health and the environment from toxic chemicals.