On 19 May 2021, Hot or Cool Policy Lead Magnus Bengtsson presented in the regional kick-off workshop of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle to Protect the Marine Environment and Coral Reefs” (3RProMar) project, implemented by GIZ. His presentation conveyed key findings and conclusions of a regional gap-analysis study on circular economy for plastics in ASEAN, which he led together with Hot or Cool’s Managing Director Lewis Akenji.
Key findings of the gap-analysis study include the following:
- Policies and actions tend to focus on the downstream with plastics issues framed mainly from a waste management perspective,
- There are few policies aimed to stimulate eco-design and innovation on alternative materials and to promote circular economy business models, such as reuse systems,
- There is limited understanding of the characteristics of biobased and biodegradable plastics and their sustainability potential,
- Few efforts are made to improve the quality of recycling and recycled plastics – much of the existing recycling operations generate low-grade materials of limited value, resulting in downcycling,
- Few efforts are made to stimulate demand for recycled plastics and to improve the markets for those materials,
- There is little recognition of the need to phase out hazardous additives used in plastics,
- Governments tend to see growing production and use of plastics as a given and in some cases even support the expansion of this industry.
The study suggested the following actions at the ASEAN-wide level:
- Harmonized technical standards for plastics, recycled plastics and plastic products,
- Region-specific policy guidelines on circular economy for plastics,
- Regional approach to the phasing-out and substitution of hazardous substances in plastics,
- ASEAN-wide network for research and innovation on plastics,
- ASEAN framework agreement on plastic pollution, complemented by a regional platform for knowledge-sharing on circular economy policy and practices.
The workshop was attended by the government focal points of three ASEAN Working Groups (on Chemicals and Waste, Coastal and Marine Environment, and Environmentally Sustainable Cities), ASEAN Secretariat officials, and GIZ experts.