World Bank: Monetise plastic waste to boost circular economy, reduce pollution

BETTER management of plastic waste would create a multi-billion-dollar economy, particularly for circular economy, on top of reducing marine pollution.

World Bank Group said this following several studies conducted in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines on the use of plastic value chain approach.

“We evaluated the plastics recycling industry and its role in supporting a circular economy, in addition to scaling up recycling efforts via targeted public and private sector interventions.

“And we found that less than a quarter of plastics available for recycling in the three nations are being recycled into valuable materials. More than 75% of the material value of the plastics is lost – worth about US$6 bil per year across the three countries.

“It happens when single-use plastics are discarded rather than recovered and recycled, representing a significant untapped business opportunity if key market barriers can be addressed,” it stated.

World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand Ndiamé Diop said that mismanaged plastics in the nations is threatening key economic sectors, such as fisheries and tourism.

Workable policies needed

However, Diop acknowledged that there is strong government momentum in these countries to identify critical policies and craft roadmaps to strengthen demand for all recycled plastic resins, level the playing field for global and domestic companies, and help drive a circular economy for plastics.

“And these studies show that there is an untapped opportunity to reap environmental and economic benefits with clear and complementary interventions from the private and public sector,” he opined.

Therefore, the World Bank made several recommendations on how tap on plastic waste potential, as follows:

  • Increase sorting efficiency of post-consumer collection of plastics.
  • Set recycled content targets across all major end-use applications.
  • Mandate “design for recycling” standards for plastics, especially for packaging.
  • Encourage increase in recycling capacities (mechanical and chemical).
  • Implement industry-specific requirements to increase waste collection rates.
  • Restrict disposal of waste plastics in landfills and phase-out non-essential plastic items.

Elaborating, International Finance Corporation said the studies clearly show the importance of managing plastic waste as a valuable resource, instead of just looking at it as a waste management issue.

“These studies serve a critical need for country-specific data on how plastics are produced, used and managed in Southeast Asia,” said its Asia Pacific Regional Industry Director Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services Rana Karadsheh. – March 23, 2021.


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