Green Exchange

Mixtape #14: Coffee, Smiles & Stories to Take On the Refugee Crisis, with Mads Nygaard

To change the world, all you need is people power. When 485 refugees came to a tiny town in Jutland, Denmark, it changed the way integration had to work in Denmark. So many newcomers living in Jutland yet totally disconnected from the local community – something had to be done. With one small room and one coffee machine, Mads Nygaard helped start a new nationwide movement that brings people together through story telling, connection, and crowd-sourcing. The Venligboerne movement is a collective backlash against harsh government policies and the hate that’s sprung up during the refugee crisis in Denmark, and proof that we have all the tools we need to solve the refugee crisis. It starts with one question: what can I do here?

Mads Nygaard

Mads is a Danish author and speaker, and co-founder of the Venligboerne movement: a network of volunteers and refugees that started in 2014. The initiative has gained great recognition, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016.

Produced by Camille Duran & Eleen Murphy
Published by Eleen Murphy
Music Credits: License by Ins. Green White Space.

TRANSCRIPT FROM THE EPISODE

 

Coming soon.

 

Mixtape #13: Comedy, Asylum Seekers & What It Takes To Integrate (with Fairooz Tamimi)

Integration into a new country and culture is one of the biggest challenges a person can face. Fairooz Tamimi knows this first hand. Fairooz is an award winning author, columnist, and the Concept Developer of the first business accelerator targeting foreign-born entrepreneurs in Sweden. She immigrated to from Jordan to Sweden in 2013, and through her struggles to integrate, she saw how immigrants and asylum seekers are sidelined in Swedish society, and around the world. She decided to be the change.

Camille sits down with her to share her story, and discuss the barriers newcomers face when entering into business, as well as the great potential for diversity and strength when governments and business combat discrimination and begin treating immigrants as equals.

Spotify playlist

Fairooz’s Twitter

Fairooz’s Linkedin

Fairooz Tamimi

Fairooz Tamimi is a columnist, public speaker, and award winning published author. She is Concept Developer of the first business accelerator targeting the foreign-born entrepreneurs in Sweden, and founder of the Immigrants Stand Up Comedy Network Scandinavia.

Produced by Camille Duran & Eleen Murphy
Published by Eleen Murphy
Music Credits: License by Ins. Green White Space.

TRANSCRIPT FROM THE EPISODE

 

Coming soon.

 

Mixtape #12: Internet Politics, Digital Commons & Changing your Mind with Mayo Fuster Morell

It’s good to change your mind sometimes. On a sunny rooftop in Barcelona, Camille Duran shares a coffee/tea with Mayo Fuster Morell, probably the most prominent social researcher focusing on sharing economy, social movements, online communities and digital Commons. They dive into a deep discussion about how we can reorganise production models and go beyond capitalism & public institutions as value creators for society. They talk about Internet politics, self-organising and activism, and how Mayo has been changing her mind over time about the best way to drive change in society.

Spotify playlist

Mayo’s personal website

Mayo’s Wikipedia page

Mayo Fuster Morell

Is a social researcher who has focused on sharing economy, social movements, online communities and digital Commons, frequently using participatory action research and method triangulation. She has been part of the most important research centres studying Internet and its social effects, including the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the MIT Center for Civic Media or the Berkeley School of Information. As an active citizen, she is the co-founder of multiple initiatives around digital Commons and Free Culture, such as the Procomuns Forum on collaborative economy.

 

Produced by Camille Duran & Eleen Murphy
Published by Eleen Murphy
Music Credits: License by Ins. Green White Space.

TRANSCRIPT FROM THE EPISODE

 

Coming soon.

 

Lab#3 w/ MEP Linnéa Engström – Another Crazy Fish Story

Audio version of Green Exchange Lab #3. Watch video here.

EU Ministers forgo moral scientific and legal obligations on fisheries management – and that’s not ok. We go to Brussels to understand the problems of fish quotas AgriFish Council meetings and governance of the commons. With this simple story, we highlight a part of our EU institutions that doesn’t work and discuss what we can do about it.

#3 things you can do to help end overfishing:

1. Support NGOs working in that space (they know exactly what to do):

www.our.fish 

www.seas-at-risk.org 

www.pewtrusts.org

2. Try the fishes that are different! Reducing the demand for most popular fishes will help balance the quotas (check out www.fishisthedish.co.uk)

3. Spread fish stories: subscribe & share!

Mixtape #11: Nuclear Bombs, the 1st Email & the Power of Stories (with Brian Fitzgerald)

What are you going to do about it? This was the burning question that drove Brian to become an activist, a storyteller, and a change maker. A good story can change the world. Actually, a good story convinces us that the world can change, and inspires us to take action. In this mixtape, Brian shares his incredible journey.

Spotify playlist

Brian’s Twitter

Dancing Fox

Brian Fitzgerald

Brian is a storyteller, an activist, and a digital innovator. Co-founder of Dancing Fox and activist with Greenpeace for 35 years, he has a wealth of stories to tell about changing the world – from stopping nuclear weapons tests in the Nevada Desert, to piloting hot air balloons and hanging banners from the Statue of Liberty. Brian comes from the US, and lives in Amsterdam.

 

Produced by Camille Duran & Eleen Murphy
Published by Eleen Murphy
Music Credits: License by Ins. Green White Space.

TRANSCRIPT FROM THE EPISODE

 

Coming soon.

Quickfire #6: News & Changes for 2018

Hey guys. A quick message for the new year, with some cool news (like: we’re on Spotify!), and some changes for the future. We tell you all about it!

Oceans #7: EU Plastics Strategy – The Commission’s Legacy & What We Can Expect

The Commission has just released the first ever Europe wide strategy on plastic. This text lays out the vision for tackling plastic pollution, with its main aims to reduce disposable plastic use, limit micro-plastic use, and make manufacturing packaging fully recyclable by 2030. Big news. But is it bold and ambitious, or more politics as usual?

In this episode, we review and discuss the content of this strategy together with Coordinator of Rethink Plastic, Delphine Lévi Alvarés. Big topics on the table include: the absence of clear target for recyclable packaging, possible upcoming legislation on single-use plastics, how to prevent unintentional microplastics, possible oxoplastics ban, and the plastic tax surprise.

Check out the Oceans series page for complementary resources & bonus materials.

Produced by Camille Duran
Published by Eleen Murphy
Senior Editors Eleen Murphy & Camille Duran

Music Credits: License by Ins. Green White Space.

 

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Camille Duran [CD]: Eleen before we start: Last time I met with Paul Rose,

Eleen Murphy [EM]: From the Guns N’ Roses?

CD: No that’s Axel Rose! Paul Rose is the National Geographic explorer & TV Presenter from the UK…

EM: Ah yes, you never know with you…. Great, what did he tell you?

CD: I asked him what’s the one plastic story that stands out for him. Have a listen.

Paul Rose: For me it’s the Arctic. I know the Arctic very well. I used to go out there, and when you’re on an Arctic beach, it’s a funny old place even in summer, because the ice – the fast ice, as they call it – is stuck to the land. But you can have a bit of trouble working out where the sea begins and the land ends and where you are on the tidal cracks, and are you going to fall in the sea and everything! And you’d never see any plastic, because the ice edge was so far out there, even when the ice is loose it creates a massive barrier around the arctic. We’d never see any plastic, because it would come up and butt against the ice edge. We didn’t know that at the time, but it was.

But now with climate change, all that ice around all those islands is gone in the summer. So the beaches are stone, pebbly and rocky beaches. And what’s on them? Plastic, of all kinds. So that’s a real shocker for me, to see that. You know, we sort of get used to seeing it on a beach in temperate zones, but to find that in the Arctic…man, that’s a killer. You know? That hurts me.

[01:36]

EM: Ouch.

CD: Yeah that’s just to remind us how big and how urgent the plastic issue really is.

EM: In case any listener is still in doubt.

CD: Direct transition: the EU Commission just released its plastic strategy, we started to talk about it in the previous episode.

EM: Anything ambitious?

CD: That’s what we are going to talk about in today’s episode: what can we expect from the EU exactly?

EM: Good question.

CD: First V.P. Timmermans and V.P. Katainen dropped in on the Parliament for the announcement and addressing a couple of questions.

EM: And?

CD: Well, I don’t think anyone expected bold moves. This Commission is entering the last part of their mandate, they say they have budget limitations and even if Timmermans’ introductory speeches show conviction & determination, we are going to need a lot more than what is outlined in the text.

But… some interesting developments!

EM: Tell me more…

CD: I unpacked the content of the plastic strategy with an organisation that is very active in this debate and which I knew would be one hundred percent aligned with the interests of the Planet and communities worldwide.

EM: Like aligned for real, you mean.

CD: Right, it’s a coalition of NGOs that is following the plastic debate at the European level. They are called Rethink Plastic and I debriefed with their Coordinator, Delphine Lévi Alvarés.

EM: Let’s hear it!

 

[03:24]

CD: Hello Delphine, are you there?

Delphine Lévi Alvarés [DLA]: Yes I’m here!

CD: Thanks for making some time. It’s an important week; we’re going to about the plastic strategy and what’s in the text. Can you first tell us about the purpose of this plastic strategy. What was expected?

DLA: So, it’s a document where the European Commission lays out their vision for tackling plastic pollution in the future. It’s an action plan more than anything else, it’s not a binding document.

CD: At Rethink Plastic, what is the overall feeling of your group after the release of this plastic strategy?

DLA: The overall feeling of our group is that it’s quite a positive strategy. It’s not complete: there are always things to improve, but it’s a good declaration of intention from the Commission, and now what we want to see is action.

CD: I bet. I suggest we just dive in: I want to talk about a few of the subtopics that the strategy covers. Do you feel that there’s one theme in particular that has been dominating the discussion, or has it been an even mix of themes – when it comes to, you know, microplastics, oxo-degradables, single use, recyclability, and so on?

DLA: I think it’s been a pretty balanced debate. A lot of topics have been discussed during the year and a half that has preceded the publication of this strategy. A lot of focus was put at the beginning on recycling, and the role of the Coalition and other environmental NGOs was really to stress the need for reduction. The topic of single use plastics in the latest month has been occupying the scene, and we are quite happy to see that the Commission is already taking a step and consulting European citizens and stakeholders on what kind of legislative measures we could implement at the E.U. or national level to reduce single-use plastic items.

[05:39]

CD: Yes and let’s start with that theme then on single use plastics. A directive that was mentioned a couple of times was the single-use plastic bag directive, which was very successful in the countries that implemented it. I think you are pushing for replicating that directive for other single-use plastic items?

DLA: Yeah, we could imagine the same kind of mechanism for other single-use plastic items like [indistinguishable], disposable cups, lids and straws, and cutlery…

CD: Service wear?

DLA: Yeah, service wear, exactly.

CD: What do you expect on the single-use plastics front in the year to come?

DLA: We expect legislative proposals to be tabled by the Commission, and discussed by the European Parliament and the Council. That should come before summer, because you probably know that it’s the last active year of this Commission, because next year we’ll have the European Elections. And we will have a new Commission taking over in September next year. So it’s the closing down of the mandate of this Commission and I think they want to finish with a solid legacy. I hope that they want to finish with a solid legacy on single-use plastics.

CD: Okay. moving to microplastics now. So, those are the pieces of plastic that are less than five millimeters, I think, that are found in the environment because they were intentionally added to products, like cosmetics, detergents, or paint. Intentionally added, by opposition to the microplastics resulting from the degradation of macroplastics. So there’s this sort of intentional versus unintentional debate, which I think is interesting. What are your takeaways on this chapter?

DLA: On this chapter we are welcoming the step taken by the Commission to ban them, and to ban them for a wide variety of products – not only cosmetics, which was the low-hanging fruit in a way. So now the scope is open, and it’s going to be dealt under a very technical process called Rich (nothing to do with money). And it’s going to look at the different kind of products in which we have intentionally added microplastics.

[08:12]

CD: So it covers only intentionally added microplastics? How about the other side of the problem: the microplastics that are in tire dust, in textile microfibres and so on?

DLA: Yeah, so for these ones it’s going to be about working at the product level: how do we improve the products themselves to prevent the release of microplastics or microfibres into the environment. In the case of textiles, it could be also how do we improve the washing machine and wastewater treatment systems so that we prevent the release of these microfibres. So for all of these topics that are more recent, and for which there are no silver bullets, there are discussions amongst the stakeholders, and the Commission is planning some research on this to find appropriate measures to prevent them.

CD: Okay. Oxo-degradable plastic, which is also quite a technical area. It’s a type of plastic that is designed to break down into small pieces that most often remain in the environment later on. I think something happened there as well?

DLA: For oxo-plastics, we got a good signal from the Commission about their intention to restrict their use under the Rich process again – the same process as the one that is going to regulate microplastics. And here it’s real good news because these plastics have been seriously damaging the environment and the recycling system as well, and a ban was urgently needed. We don’t know how long it’s going to take, and we don’t know if it’s going to be a full ban or only restricting the use in certain sectors, but we’re going to engage in this process and make sure it goes in the direction that we want. That is to say, a full ban.

CD: One more thing I wanted to talk about. A few days ago, the Commissioner for Budget raised an interesting idea around an E.U. plastic tax – a European-wide plastic tax. It was a little bit of a surprise, no?

DLA: It was! It was a surprise, yeah. I think it was a surprise as much for the NGOs as it was for the people in the Commission working on the plastic strategy. And everybody asked us what our opinion was, and I think it’s a very good question. We are in general in favour of using any economic mechanisms to reduce plastics, in particular single-use plastic and over-packaging. On this tax specifically, we are cautiously optimistic. One thing is sure, that we definitely need more information about what he had in mind and how it could be turned into something operational at the E.U. level. And for us, this tax should really be designed to drive-down the use of single-use plastics and over-packaging in general, rather than being primarily a source of income for the E.U.

CD: Right. And Jyrki Katainen was asked was asked about this, after the presentation…let’s have a listen.

[11:33]

Jyrki Katainen: In a way one could say that it would be a good way to create our own resources for the E.U. because at the same time while we are taxing, it addresses our environmental objectives. But the better plastic strategy implementation we have, the less income we can collect. This is another side of the coin. Second point, I have been working with environmental taxes, and I like them if they are done well. But we have not yet found a way to introduce a European-wide plastic tax. As I said in my introductory remark, we are ready to look at fiscal means or fiscal solutions for incentivising recycling or reducing plastics, especially single-use plastics. But it’s too early to promise anything. Some of our member states have used tax measures or fiscal measures to reduce single-use plastic bags, so it has functioned well on the national level. So in this same spirit, we will look at all the opportunities, but whether we manage to find a well-functioning, European-wide tax on plastic…I have my doubts.

[13:06]

CD: So yeah, he was not super comfortable about this idea, but probably there’s some discussion going on backstage. Any closing words? What’s next for you guys?

DLA: Work, work, work. We need to ensure that everything that is in this strategy is turned into action – and action aiming at tackling plastic pollution and at operating the changes in the system we need to tackle plastic pollution in the future, in Europe and globally. So most of our key topics were addressed, and were more or less in line with what we wanted to see in the strategy, but we are aware that there are a lot more topics that need to be addressed to really tackle plastic pollution. And that some areas were not covered enough – like chemicals and toxics in plastics. This is a key area if you want to build trust in the recycled material market in the future, and make sure that we use more recycled plastics than virgin plastic. It will have to be addressed soon.

CD: Thank you for being with us!

DLA: Thank you for inviting us!

 

[14:24]

EM: Interesting. I see what you meant earlier. There seems to be a lot of “intentions to investigate”, or, “develop a measure to…” but nothing that bites hard enough.

CD: Yes I mean, it’s going in the right direction. Well hey, I hope it’s going in the right direction, right? Back to what we were saying in the previous episode about making history, the small stuff versus the real stuff, passing on the baby to the next Commission, etc. I don’t think anyone in this Commission will be remembered as someone who drastically changed the game.

EM: More like E.U. politics as usual?

CD: Yeah.

EM: Okay, what’s next?

CD: What’s next? Well we keep up the fight! the problem is not going to solve itself and every single joule of energy we can mobilise is vital. Every gram of plastic we can avoid consuming, reuse or in last resort send to recycling

EM: True recycling-

CD: -Indeed, is a step in the right direction.

EM: Yeah but who else can we mobilise? Who are the people or organisations that have real leverage in the story?

CD: Uh…industry you mean?

EM: I don’t know…. Yeah, like, a company like Procter & Gamble puts X billion products on the market everyday, what are they doing? And the oil industry? Isn’t plastic production their new brainchild now since they know that oil for fuel is going to disappear eventually?  

CD: Shhhh Eleen, be careful, you’re going to get us in trouble. We can tell the truth but not too loud. Because you’re putting your finger on the real problem here.

EM: Yeah but it feels no one wants to talk about this?!

CD: Should we?

EM: Aren’t we supposed to go to the root of the issues we investigate?

CD: Okay,, so we should go and see what industry has to say then.

EM: I think we should

CD: Can we try to do this with an open mind and no preconceived ideas?

EM: No preconceived ideas? You mean as if our industry and our societies’ economic model are not the real root cause of all this?

CD: I mean, like trying to understand how those guys are thinking, for real, without judgement. Then we let our listeners draw their own conclusions.

EM: Sure! But you’re going to need to double up on meditation.

CD: What do you mean?

EM: It’s going to be way too tempting for you to make spicy comments.

CD: No, I’ll be fine. It’s part of the game, we need to be open to all perspectives out there. We cannot say we know better why and how, just like this.

EM: Alright!

[17:31]

EM: Whew! I really feel like we’re not done solving all this.

CD: But we are patient, Eleen. Good things take time.

EM: Yes! And to all our listeners: you should know this series is going to keep unfolding during the year, sometimes other themes will be published in between,

CD: We publish when we have something solid.

EM: Yes, so stay tuned – hopefully we can help you look at all this in a new way.

CD: We’ll be back soon with more green knowledge, inspiration and hopefully less plastic. Keep up the good work in the meantime!

END

Climate & Finance #5: A Tool to Assess Portfolio Alignment with the Goals of the Paris Agreement

This is the fifth episode of our series about Climate & Finance. Missed the three first chapters? You may want to go there first: Episode 1 // Episode 2 // Episode 3 // Episode 4-1 // Episode 4-2

 

Today we get practical. Earlier in the series we clarified the role of asset owners in helping us stay below the 2 degree goal of the Paris Agreement, and talked about how they should benchmark the performance of their investment portfolios. But how does this work in practice? Good news: Models and tools are under way and some of the biggest EU asset owners have accepted to disclose their data and put their equity portfolio to the test bench.

The tool we discuss is an assessment on forward-looking scenario-based metrics conducted by WWF and the 2° Investing Initiative in 2017. We talk to asset owners who have been through the exercise and discuss challenges to overcome, the TCFD recommendations released earlier this year and review what’s coming up in 2018. Happy listening!

Guests:
• Magnus Billing, Alecta
• Andreas Stang, PFA
• Paddy Arber, Aviva
• Sebastien Godinot, WWF

Resources:

Paul Simpson was taken from The Financial Stability Board ‘s Taskforce on Climate Related Disclosures, Paul Simpson, CEO, CDP [Video]

Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures [Website]

Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures Final Report Introduction – Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures [Report]

Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures Final Report – Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures [Report]

Biggest EU investors are partly aligned with Paris Agreement but more efforts needed – WWF [Article]

MADE POSSIBLE BY:

wwf
WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.

Produced by Camille Duran
Senior Editors Eleen Murphy

Published by Eleen Murphy

Music Credits: License by Ins. Green White Space.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Coming soon.

Oceans #6: The Future of Plastic Scrap Markets

China doesn’t want our plastic waste anymore. This sent a shockwave throughout the plastic recycling industry and left all of us wondering: where do we go from here? Will new markets open up, or will we (finally) have to deal with our own problems at home? Will the EU Plastic Strategy save us?

In this episode, we discuss the current thinking and upcoming trends on this issue. It’s challenging. We also debrief on the recent live Talk Show in Brussels about European plastics, global markets & China, and set the stage for our next episode where we dive even deeper.

Check out the Oceans series page for complementary resources & bonus materials.

Produced by Camille Duran
Published by Eleen Murphy
Senior Editors Eleen Murphy & Camille Duran

Music Credits: License by Ins. Green White Space.

 

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

 

Eleen Murphy [EM]: Are we in China yet?

Camille Duran [CD]: Hong Kong actually.

EM: Ah okay. Maybe we should remind our listeners how we got here, while the crew throws the anchor?

CD: Sure. In episode four and five of this series about ocean plastic, we reviewed what happens to post-consumer plastic, after you put it into the recycling bin.

EM: We did some GPS tracking internationally to follow shipments and better understand where – and in what conditions – plastic scraps are taken care of.

CD: Not sure you want to know really, but if you do, take it from episode four.

EM: We clarified a fundamental idea: The plastic that’s in the ocean comes from the western world too.

CD: even if much of it gets into the ocean from just a few asian countries.

EM: Yes, a lot of the plastic disposed of in those countries is plastic that we in the west exported there in the first place.

CD: Basically the whole plastic scraps market is…

EM: A race to the bottom.

CD: A race to the bottom.

EM: And we left it at?

CD: Waking the dragon.

EM: Right, it’s getting hot.

CD: Is it really?

EM: Well if I understand correctly what you told us, China, which imports more than 60% of the world’s plastic scraps –

CD: – which we don’t want to deal with at home…

EM: – has decided to ban those low-value imports as of January 1st, 2018. In other words very soon.

CD: Millions of tons of low-grade plastics are going to be blocked by Chinese authorities starting now, pretty much.

EM: Big shake on recycling markets.

CD: Big, big shake.

EM: Conclusion?

CD: Conclusion: you have one more plastic Christmas to go, and then, we have to stop sending our trash plastic to China. Okay?

EM: What happens after Christmas?

CD: Well, there is New Year’s Eve, and then usually people go back to work?

EM: No, I’m talking about plastic…

CD: Ah yeah, right… Well that’s what we are going to discuss today. What is the future of plastic scrap markets?

EM: And what is the right thing to do!

CD: [Laughs] The right thing to do?

EM: What?!

CD: Do you think people care about what’s the right thing to do?

EM: Uh…I think some people, yes!

CD: [Laughs more]. Okay, okay, we’ll talk about what’s the right thing to do, in case anyone cares.

EM: Our listeners care about the right thing to do, I’m sure!

CD: Okay, okay, I know, I know. Actually I should say: if you are not here to do the right thing, better go live on Planet Mars, I think there is an expedition leaving soon.

EM: We can get you a ticket.

CD: Yes, we’ll pay for it actually.

EM: ok, back to the dragon.

 

EUROPE REACTS TO PLASTIC WASTE BAN – NEW MARKETS ON THE HORIZON?

 

03:28

CD: So you know we had a live talkshow last week in Brussels where we talked about just this. European plastics, global markets & China.

EM: Yes! Tell us about it, who was there?

CD: A nice mix of people that are dealing with the issue first-hand. It was co-hosted by the Rethink Plastic Alliance, which represents the voice of European NGOs in the plastic debate, and Plastic Recyclers Europe, which represents a large group of European recyclers – actual recyclers, those who operate infrastructure and produce secondary raw materials.

EM: Oh so not the brokers who trade materials on global markets?

CD: No. They were in the room as well, but yeah, it’s another culture and other business objectives.

EM: This is good to clarify actually. The recycler’s objective is to develop domestic capabilities for plastic recycling. The brokers are more interested in finding destination markets for materials, wherever they are… and whatever happens next.

CD: Complete different job and mission.

EM: Right.

CD: We also had representatives from Asia, who were in Brussels that day to highlight the impact of European Plastic on Asian Waste Management, and so they passed by the talk show to share a few points. Froilan Grate, Dharmesh Shah…. You know who else was there?

EM: Martin Bourque?

CD: Yes, our recycler turned spy, from our previous episode. And his Chinese contact Liwen Chen. She is an activist & researcher, the one who went on site to inspect the plastic final destination that Martin’s GPS tracker revealed.

EM: Wow, what a panel!

CD: It’s not over. I won’t name them all but worth noticing that a representative from the European Commission was here as well – Anna Ablazevica Policy Officer at the DG GROW – they cover Internal Markets, SMEs, Industry, Entrepreneurship etc.

EM: Mmh?

CD: And Nadine de Greef from FEAD, which is the federation representing the waste management industry in Europe. So yeah, it was good.

EM: Nice!

CD: So I am not going to redo the whole talkshow here but try to give you the highlights.

EM: Yes and we will post the link to the full briefing. The session was livestreamed and documented, so look for the link in the episode notes.

CD: So there was some discussion about why this ban is happening, did we see it coming bla-bla-bla. And some saw it coming from far (a few recyclers for instance), and some didn’t.

EM: Like the Commission.

CD: Right, and if you don’t see that kind of shake coming, you really can’t adjust in a timely manner.

EM: I see.

 

06:18

CD: Which takes us to the discussion of what is going to happen.

EM: What is going to happen if more than 60% of the market for low-grade plastic disappears?

CD: Well is it going to disappear? or shift to somewhere else?

EM: Oh, you mean that plastic will go to other countries instead?

CD: It’s difficult to predict exactly what is going to happen, and in what amounts but let me put it like this:

Some are worried this low-grade plastic that has no value what so ever is going to go to other asian countries, where the processing standards are often lower than they are in China.

EM: Really?

CD: Yes, except for Malaysia maybe. But yeah, that’s a concern. Actually there are many Chinese families that are already moving away to set up shop in bordering countries. And I heard a few times that Africa is going to be the next destination for the trash. Countries like Nigeria seem to be ramping up as a destination for plastic scraps.

EM: No…

CD: Now let’s be clear, no country can take what China was taking in quantity. Far from it.

EM: So…

CD: So yes, probably a good part will spread on new markets.

EM: And the rest?

CD: And the rest is probably going to be dealt with in Europe.

EM: What do you mean?

CD: [Coughing] Incinerated.

EM: Sorry?

CD: [Coughing] Burnt.

EM: Ohh, so we’re going to burn what we can’t export…

CD: Yes, our good friends the cement kilns and waste to energy plants may have a couple of years more work before we can close them down.

EM: Well, at least this way we will be breathing our own plastic from the air of our own cities, instead of sending our trash around…

CD: Yeah, some of it at least. Martin who runs a recycling program in California says that the price per tonne he has to pay to export it is reaching the price of landfilling it in California.

EM: So maybe that’s going to force us to go from “not in my backyard” to “in my backyard?”

CD: At least for a part of the stream.

EM: Okay so in the next couple of years, some will probably reach new markets, and some will probably be burned here in Europe?

CD: Some millions of tonnes, yes.

EM: Ouf. Hey, what is the likeliness that other Asian countries will follow the Chinese policy, and ban plastic scrap imports too?

CD: It is a possible scenario and some even call it an upcoming trend. Difficult to say at this point, but yeah, it could happen.

EM: And so then what?

CD: So if all those contries start to refuse all this low grade plastic coming from Europe and the U.S….I let you imagine.

EM: We’d finally have to deal with our own sh*t at home!

CD: You mean like internalising the impact and cost of our plastic? [Laughs].

EM: It is really that far fetched? I mean, isn’t the EU setting up it’s plastic strategy at the moment? This Chinese ban is a huge opportunity in the long term. Perfect timing for integrating ambitious measures that avoid this low-grade plastic being put on the market in the first place!!!

CD: Haha, Eleen, you’re funny. Okay. So you want to talk about the EU Plastic Strategy, right?

EM: Yes!

 

EU PLASTIC STRATEGY AND LEGACY BUILDING – WE’RE TIRED OF THE SMALL STUFF

 

09:47

CD: Sorry to spoil it, but we are not talking about a weapon that could kill a dragon just yet.

EM: Tell me more.

CD: Let’s bring our container ship back to Europe then.

EM: Can we take the Suez canal this time? It’s shorter.

CD: Not afraid of pirates?

EM: I am one of them, remember?

CD: Ah yeah, how do you do it again?

EM: Yaarrrrgh!

CD: Ah yeah right. Back to Europe then.

CD: Ok, so those of you who have been following our series on the Circular Economy know that the European institutions are currently cooking a Circular Economy policy package which is supposed to take us to a resource efficient Europe.

EM: Yes, we have seven episodes about this.

CD: Now as part of that process, it was announced that the Commission would come up with a Plastic Strategy by the end of the year, to lead the way, bla-bla-bla.

EM: And?

CD: And it’s a process where industry and brands are perceived as very influential, I should say?

EM: Hm, and why do you say that?

CD: There was several versions of the draft that were leaked over the last few weeks, and you can see the evolution of the text.

EM: Evolution in what direction?

CD: Well, there are some measures that are being weakened as time goes by.

EM: Measures like what?

CD: We are going to talk about it, it’s a bit delicate. But first…But first:

Something that struck me many times since I follow this discussion of circular economy, plastics and change in general.

EM: Oh no, i know you, you’re warming up for a punchline somewhere…

 

11:43

CD: Have you ever thought about your legacy, Eleen?

EM: I’ve never thought about it ever in my entire life, Camille.

CD: Really? How you will be remembered, what trace you left on society, on the planet, what was your impact?

EM: Um, maybe I should think more about this, yeah.

CD: You’re doing great by the way.

EM: Heh. Where do you want to go here?

CD: Some people care about their legacy more than others. But politicians and brands do care. Very much.

EM: That’s for sure.

CD: Brands care because it is directly connected to their equity, to their value on markets and to their survival even. Most politicians care about their legacy too. It is the fuel for a political career.

EM: Yes?

CD: Ask yourself: who do you remember a few years down the road?

EM: Oh no…he’s going to transform, I just know it… Sorry guys, this happens sometimes.

CD [Transformed]: Ask yourself: who do you remember a few years down the road?

The people who did the small stuff, the shy policies, the soft measures that do not make any waves? The incremental game that no one wins in the end?

Or the people and brands who got on their horses,  jumping ahead of the curve, those who drive change without fear, the real innovators that make the world measurably better?

Which one?

EM: The second one…?

CD [Transformed]: Which one:

The people and brands who are on the defence serving consumers and voters the bullsh*t that everyone can smell from kilometres away? Playing the clock, the mandate, the quarterly results?

Or the people and brands who show real passion, conviction and who dare attacking a problem at the source. Even when it’s risky, when it’s early, when others are still talking?

Which one?

EM: The second one again. The real problem solvers!

CD [Transformed]: That’s who you remember. You want to be the first-mover into a future that’s already there. You want to lead and inspire, not cheat and conspire. You want to go beyond intentions. Beyond just a vision. Leave the small stuff to others. You’re here for what really matters. You want to be the one people talk about, or tomorrow you’ll be out.

EM: Right!

CD [Transformed]: Once and for all. The one people look up to because you have big ba- um…

EM: Big ideas!?!

 

14:44

EM: Wow, are you back? You okay? What was that?

CD: Yeah, you get the point. We are tired of the small stuff.

EM: I feel you. So that’s your introduction to the EU Plastic Strategy chapter?

CD: That’s my introduction to being a human being on Planet Earth. We deal with change everyday.

EM: So this applies to the debate on plastics.

CD: I think so. And that is what we are going to cover in next episode. What is the small stuff, what is the ambitious stuff we can hope for? Where will we fall, and how do we go from there?

EM: What legacy is this Commission going to leave behind? Coming soon on Green Exchange.

CD: Share the podcast with your friends and colleagues. We are going to start talking about lifestyle, movie stars, and real solutions to the ocean plastic problem.

EM: You know where to find us!

CD: We’ll be back soon with more green knowledge, inspiration – and legacy checks. Keep up the good work in the meantime.

END