IPEN studies show how policy is driving massive investment in plastic waste-to-fuel processing, and that exports are threatening waste management in ASEAN countries and undermining the Basel Convention and climate change commitments.
This paper documents the trade of Australian Processed Engineered Fuel (including Refuse Derived Fuel and/or Waste Derived Fuel) exported to Malaysia. In particular the paper will expound on ResourceCo, an Australian company which produces “fuels” from waste and has an alternative fuel processing plant in Ipoh, in the state of Perak, Malaysia.
Since the early 1990s, the production of alternative fuels has become a quite popular waste management option in different countries. Solid Recover Fuel (SRF) is considered as a complementary intervention to preparing the residual waste stream for material recovery or disposal in landfills. The treatment processes that produce waste-derived fuels have been widely implemented in some countries.
Press Release Embargoed Release Embargo Lifts: 2022 Mar 1 at 0900 Manila (PST) (1AM UTC)
Attn: Environment and Global Health News Contacts:
Björn Beeler, IPEN: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane Bremmer, National Toxics Network/Zero Waste Australia: email@example.com
Australia’s ‘trojan horse’ plastics waste policy fuels toxic trade across Asia
Gothenburg, Sweden The International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) has published a series of studies that reveal how Australia’s new waste policies are driving massive investment in plastic waste-to-fuel processing, and that the country’s exports are threatening waste management in ASEAN countries. This is despite the country announcing it would stop exporting unprocessed wastes in 2020, after China and other Southeast Asian countries banned plastic waste imports, starting in 2018.
Jane Bremmer, campaign coordinator for Zero Waste Australia, says: “Australia has effectively rebranded plastic waste as refuse-derived fuel (RDF), so it can continue to trade waste exports.”
The NGO adds that Australia’s stance is undermining the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, as well as global climate change commitments.
Ms. Bremmer continues: “We are concerned about Australia's ‘trojan horse’ plastic waste policy and the ability of Southeast Asian countries to safely handle refuse-derived fuel wastes. We also want to be clear that burning RDF cannot be considered green, or a low carbon source of electricity or energy. RDF will compete with and displace clean, renewable energy in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region, and the lack of any international standards or regulatory framework for its production, trade and use, is a threat to health, environment and human rights, especially in developing countries.”
Australia is in the midst of the biggest waste recycling and reprocessing infrastructure build out in its history. This follows the Prime Minister’s announcement in 2019 that all waste exports would be banned from Australia, after China’s National Sword policy implementation and associated actions in other Asia Pacific countries. These policies effectively ban plastic and other waste exports from Australia to other countries and especially south-east Asian destinations.