A primary win in our plastics combat in Antwerp

Taking a stance in opposition to pointless plastic – our first win in Antwerp

The EU is combating to maneuver away from single-use plastics.

And whereas lawmakers wage conflict with lobbyists to take action, petrochemicals firm Ineos is gearing as much as construct a €3bn plastics refinery within the Port of Antwerp, sitting simply alongside the border between Belgium and the Netherlands.

This plant – referred to as “Mission One” could have an enormous local weather and environmental affect, each on its doorstep and the world over. So we took motion and we’ve simply had our first win.

How do you tackle a plastics plant?

The best way Ineos has utilized for permission to construct this refinery is laden with points.

Industrial installations like this have to be rigorously assessed earlier than they’re authorised, to verify their environmental affect has been correctly taken under consideration.

However Ineos submitted three separate Environmental Affect Assessments (EIA) – one for deforesting the world wanted for the plant, and one for every of the refinery items themselves.

Splitting a undertaking up like this for approval known as ‘salami-slicing’. In concept, this makes it simpler for authorities to approve it as just one stage of the undertaking is examined at a time. The overall affect of the plant is obscured, which is unlawful underneath EU regulation.

Creating plastics has ramifications at a worldwide scale in addition to an area one, and these concerns weren’t mirrored within the planning paperwork submitted to the Flemish authorities.

So we took authorized motion. Final 12 months, we submitted an administrative enchantment to Ineos’s EIA for deforestation of the land they wish to construct on. We requested to see a complete EIA, that mirrored the complete affect of Mission One.

Whereas we’ve been ready for the listening to, Ineos has began work on doing precisely that – a win for our attorneys earlier than we’ve even gone to court docket.

It is just a primary step in what could possibly be a protracted combat – there are lots extra points with the plant and with its new proposed EIA. However we’re right here for the lengthy haul.

What’s the issue with plastics?

Ineos’s plans in Antwerp will broaden the present plastics facility within the Port, which already dangers inflicting severe environmental issues. Lentil-sized plastic pellets – that are the output of the plant – are leaking into protected conservation websites, and may be eaten by wildlife. What’s extra, the long-range air air pollution points brought on by the plant’s excessive stacks presently go unchecked.

These are simply the native issues – the broader subject is the local weather affect of a plastics business that the fossil gasoline business is combating to develop.

Plastics refineries take a ‘feedstock’ – like oil or shale gasoline – and apply an enormous quantity of warmth and stress to ‘crack’ the hydrocarbons down into smaller hydrocarbons – finally producing the constructing blocks wanted to create plastic. It’s vastly carbon-intensive, not solely due to the vitality required to break-down the gasoline, but additionally due to the local weather impacts of extracting and transporting the fossil fuels that function feedstock, which are sometimes shipped from the US.

But an increasing number of of those vegetation have been cropping up. A future for plastics means a future for fossil fuels.

Mission One is the tip of a worldwide iceberg. The plastics foyer is combating every day to clear the way in which for plastics enlargement, whether or not within the EU or US – and by some accounts, presenting arguments regarding the coronavirus disaster to justify lobbying for a delay to laws proscribing the manufacturing and use of single-use plastics.

To get on prime of the worldwide plastic deluge – and guarantee that the fossil gasoline business’s combat for survival doesn’t materialise as a burgeoning plastics business – we are going to maintain difficult these pointless vegetation, each step of the way in which.

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