Following the emergence of COVID-19, the President of Mozambique, Hon. Filipe Nyusi, declared a state of emergency on 1st April 2020. He announced a number of measures to contain its spread, including prohibition of public and private gatherings and closure of all external leisure and entertainment establishments, schools, and borders to neighbouring countries, among others. He also put in place financial measures to support the private sector to face the economic impact of the pandemic. The emergency was extended until the end of 2020, when this report was being prepared.
For this project, Front Commun pour la Protection de l’Environnement et des Espaces Proteges (FCPEEP) reviewed documentation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, describing and briefly commenting on the situation in the South Kivu province, DR Congo; analyzed the impacts of the pandemic on the proliferation of chemicals and waste; designed public awareness materials to alert the general public of the hidden potential hazards from chemicals extensively used during the coronavirus health crisis; and shared the results of the study with relevant stakeholders.
"How the COVID-19 pandemic can impact chemicals and waste in the Ukraine,” produced by the NGO Chemical Safety Agency, demonstrates the rapid increase in the use of disinfectants and antiseptics during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ukraine, and also the rapid increase in waste, specifically plastic waste (used personal protective equipment; used disposable instruments; used plastic containers; and bags and containers for food and drinks, because during the pandemic takeaway food sales are sharply increasing, etc.), which also contains hazardous chemicals.
To cope with the 2020 outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic in Hong Kong, the government subsidized the production of disposable masks and issued ordinances to impose social distancing measures and compulsory mask-wearing in public areas. The NGO Greeners Action conducted an online survey in October with over 1,000 people, and results show that most Hong Kong residents used 7-10 disposable masks a week, which is equivalent to 2 billion disposable masks from February to November. Most of the used masks were transported to landfills.
The third Conference of the Parties to the Bamako Convention, held in Brazzaville from February 12 to 13, 2020, expressed the wish for a more efficient organisation of waste management. The challenge is to systematically prevent the import of toxic waste into Africa.
The Bamako Convention is not really applied in Africa, even 22 years after its entry into force. This treaty of African nations prohibiting the import into Africa of any type of hazardous waste (including radioactive waste), still remains an illusion for most countries on the continent.
“Chemicals are now everywhere and necessary for our daily lives. They are used in the majority of productive sectors and are exploited to solve several problems related to improving the quality of our lives. Of the 5 to 7 million known chemical substances, more than 80,000 are used by companies in their production processes and operations,” said Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Minister of Tourism and Environment of the Republic of Congo and new current president of the Bamako Convention, whose third conference of the parties was held from the 12th to the 13th of February 2020 in Brazzaville, on the theme: “Working for Africa with a safe future for chemicals and waste”.
Targets, indicators and milestones are a key component of the new "Beyond 2020" chemical safety agreement because they provide an important measure of what the new agreement will accomplish. IPEN has prepared a thought starter that proposes targets, indicators and milestones that reflect tangible outcomes to reduce harms in the real world and links these results to the achievement of defined Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Prime Minister’s announcement and COAG support for a ban on waste exports should be cautiously welcomed and is long overdue following the embarrassing revelations of Australian illegal waste dumping in South East Asia. However, it seems certain that the announcement is designed to distract from a major government push to burn Australia’s waste in polluting incinerators: an industry it quietly supports. As noted by some media reports on the announcement, the government “was exploring using waste in energy plants to power Australian homes.”
Cerca de 180 países llegaron el viernes a un acuerdo para reglamentar la exportación de los residuos plásticos, que afecta en particular a los océanos, donde cada año van a parar ocho millones de toneladas de esos desechos contaminantes.
The waste and pollution watch group EcoWaste Coalition exhorted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to take President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement against waste importation to heart and bring the Philippines in alliance with other countries that have taken action to ban foreign waste imports.
Last Monday, May 6, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a verbal directive against waste importation amid the country’s long-running garbage feud with Canada.