Virtual SEA of Solutions for keeping plastics out of the ocean

Country: All Countries
key Area: Waste Management, Circular Economy
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This year, the project once-again actively engaged in the SEA of Solutions, an initiative from the UN Environment Programme and the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA), which took place in a virtual format in November 2020.

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The SEA of Solutions is an annually occurring partnership event towards solving plastic pollution at source and focussed on the overall theme of “Wasting less plastic and keeping it out of the ocean – Has the needle moved?”

Alvaro Zurita, the team leader of ‘Rethinking Plastics’ joined the panel of the session on ‘Taking responsibility: Business models and incentives for plastic neutrality’ to present and actively discuss EPR mechanisms with close to one hundred live participants. In addition, the project hosted a virtual exhibition pavilion providing key information on the project, its results so far, the planned pilot projects and contacts for exchanges.

More about the event and the event report: SEA of Solutions 2020 (


On the Road to the 4th Indonesia Circular Economy Forum

Country: Indonesia
key Area: Consumption & Production, Circular Economy
City: Shanghai, Jackarta
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This year, the Indonesia Circular Economy Forum (ICEF) moved online to capture the spirit of the circular economy in Indonesia and provide a high-level dialogue with the theme “Towards Smart & Sustainable Cities Through Circular Economy”.

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According to the UN, city population is predicted to grow rapidly and two-thirds of the population will live in urban areas by 2050. “In line with this growing population, the consumption and human’s basic needs will also be increasing rapidly. Therefore, it is very important to design the right policies addressing the issues of sustainable cities for a better life of our people”, stated Suharso Monoarfa, the Minister for National Development Planning/Head of Bappenas of the Republic of Indonesia.

H.E. Mr. Vincent Piket, European Union (EU) Ambassador to Indonesia shared current initiatives from Europe:

Highlight Quote 1: “The European Green Deal provides a roadmap with actions to boost the efficiency of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy, which aims to restore biodiversity and we will cut pollution. We look forward to continue our cooperation on circular economy that we stated during our Circular Economy Mission in October 2018 in Jakarta”.
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‘Rethinking Plastics’ supported the Road to the 4th ICEF online event which was hosted by Greeneration Foundation and the several sessions on Circular Economy Progress in Indonesia, Circular Economy in Cities and specific strategic focus areas of the Circular Economy. In the latter session, five core economic sectors for circular economy strategies were highlighted: besides plastics conversion and waste management, also food and beverages, electronic manufacturing and e-waste, construction and built environment as well as textile and the fashion industry. The session’s speakers included public-private and socio entrepreneurs, and international speakers, among them Jan-Carel Diehl, Associate Professor at the TU Delft University in the Netherlands. As for plastics, one way to tackle plastic waste is to design the products for a circular economy, as outlined by Mr. Diehl’s presentation with concrete examples from Bangladesh and Indonesia.

“I am actually confident that we can really move forward in this topic. We have so many amazing initiatives from the government, private sector, civil society in Indonesia. In particular, we look forward to the materialization and finalization of a circular economy action plan that hopefully can help stakeholders to get along how to concrete the goal and set up standards for the circular economy from the various sectors”, concluded Dr. David Tantow, Counsellor Development Cooperation of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Indonesia.

M. Bijaksana Junerosano, Founder of Greeneration Foundation agreed: “The transition to a circular economy is indeed not easy and requires a long process, and there is no shortcut for it. Therefore, participation and collaboration from every stakeholder, uniformity in understanding key parameters, and targets is crucial. Only this way, we can achieve economic growth and development without sacrificing our environment, and ultimately our own future.“

More information about the event here.

You can also watch the online exchange on YouTube.

Plastic waste: Why it’s important to exchange on plastics in food delivery and takeaways

Country: All Countries
  • Presentation-_Meituan_Waimai.pdf
  • Presentation-_No_Plastic_in_Nature_by_2030.pdf
  • Presentation-_reCIRCLE_Europe_Jeannette_Morath.pdf
  • Presentation-_Rise_Cafe_Bangkok.pdf
  • Presentation-_Thailands_Roadmap_on_Plastic_Waste_Management_and_current_initiatives_on_single-use_plastic_in_food_delivery_and_takeaway.pdf
  • Partner text box:
    key Area: Consumption & Production
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    More and more single-use plastics, such as straws, cups and bags for takeaway, are being used in daily life. Recently, plastics in food delivery, takeaways and online commerce saw an additional rise due to COVID-19 related closures and distancing measures.

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    However, when dumped and not properly managed, they can contribute to soil pollution or enter water systems and the ocean, where they endanger animals and the ecosystem. At the end of July, GIZ and Expertise France organised a regional webinar with more than 200 participants discussing current efforts to reduce single-use plastics in food delivery and takeaways and share experiences and best practices from Thailand, China and Europe.

    “The COVID-19 crisis has definitely increased the need for guidance on how to deal with single-use plastic. Increased demand for food delivery and takeaway responds well to concerns on health and hygiene but results in an important and worrying increase in single-use plastic waste. Our webinar tackled some of the key questions and provided concrete examples of policies and business models that try to address this challenge,” introduced Ms Maria-Chiara Femiano, Programme Manager of the Foreign Policy Instruments/Regional Team for Asia & Pacific at the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand.

    Representatives from the EU, China and Thailand shared insights into current policies, for instance Lu Dongsen, Director of Division of Circular Economy Development, Department of Resource

    Conservation and Environmental Protection, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in China. He outlined: “In the future, we will strengthen our efforts to increase the reusability of products on the market and to find substitutes in terms of products, machinery and business models. From these three perspectives, we hope to completely transform the existing industry of plastic packaging and products so that we can truly tackle the plastic waste issue from the source. China is willing to work alongside with the European Union and other stakeholders in the international community to tackle the plastic waste issue.”

    Representatives from the Pollution Control Department (PCD) under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) in Thailand presented Thailand’s “Roadmap on Plastic Waste Management 2018-2030”.

    Highlight Quote 1: “The aim of the Roadmap is to serve as a framework and direction for preventing and managing plastic waste in the country,”
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    said Wassana Jangprajak from the Waste Minimisation Sub-Division of the Pollution Control Department (PCD). Amongst other measures, the Roadmap aims to ban single-use plastic bags, cups, straws, styrofoam boxes, cap seals of water bottles, and oxo-degradable plastics.

    The PCD is working jointly with 'Rethinking Plastics' on reducing plastic waste and supporting a Circular Economy for plastics to prevent plastic waste from ending up in the ocean. Over the last 10 years, about 2 million tonnes of plastic waste have been generated each year in Thailand according to PCD. An online survey conducted by the PCD in April found that food delivery increased by around 30 per cent during COVID-19 and that the services were used by 60 per cent of the population.

    Thonthep Tuanwachat from the RISE Café in Bangkok noted that COVID-19 was a challenge for restaurants. “Once COVID-19 hit us, we were not allowed to let people dine in. So, we had to come up with a strategy and the only way to continue was by offering food delivery. But we could see that there would be a lot of plastic waste and single-use plastic during this time and we did not want to be part of it. We had to come up with a substitute product or packaging to minimise plastic waste.”

    The café therefore started to experiment with fruit and lotus leaf packaging and finally used pintos, reusable metal boxes, which were collected after consumption. Further examples shared in the webinar included activities by one of China’s leading e-commerce and food delivery platforms, among them a “no cutlery” option when ordering food and a voluntary agreement to reduce the consumption of plastics by food delivery companies in Singapore and a start-up in Switzerland. The latter provides reusable bowls to more than 1,000 restaurants, for which the customers pay a deposit and can return them afterwards.

    A documentation of the webinar is available for further inspiration. 

    Regional Webinar: Plastic Waste Recycling Standards

    Country: The Philippines, Vietnam, All Countries
    key Area: Waste Management
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    The worldwide production and consumption of plastics has rapidly increased over the last decades. At the same time, unmanaged plastic waste contributes more and more to the pollution of air, soils, waterways and oceans, if bottles and other plastics end up in the environment. Plastic waste that cannot be avoided should be collected, sorted and recycled. But which technical, environmental and social standards for plastic recycling need to be considered? What does “recyclability” even mean? And how can a good quality of recycled materials be achieved, and their market demand increased?

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    The regional webinar organised by ‘Rethinking Plastics’ on 10 September 2020 discussed answers to these questions and shared insights from policy and practice with a focus on the European Union, the Philippines and Vietnam.

    Highlight Quote 1: “Questions around recycling and recyclability were on the table before the COVID-19 crisis but the crisis had also an impact for the recycling industry. For instance, the low price of oil has decreased the prices of virgin plastics and made it more difficult for recycled plastics to be competitive on the market. With this webinar, we hope to contribute to the ongoing discussion, to foster joint learning and to create a community of exchange on these topics”,
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    introduced Ms Maria-Chiara Femiano, Programme Manager at the Foreign Policy Instruments/ Regional Team for Asia & Pacific, Delegation of the European Union to Thailand.

    “The European Green Deal provides a roadmap with concrete actions to promote the efficient use of resources by moving towards a circular economy. It helps to restore biodiversity and decrease pollution and aims to also create jobs, increase competitiveness and boost innovation”, added Ms Katarina GRGAS-BRUS, International Relations Officer for Southeast Asia at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment.

    Ms Likha Malai C. Alcantara of the Solid Waste Management Division, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) - Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), Philippines shed light on current processes in the Philippines: “There is a growing concern on marine litter. So in the Philippines, we want to organise all the activities and reorganise the way we see recycling with the National Plan of Action on Marine Litter. Its development is a multi-stakeholder process.”

    Ms Tran Thu Hang from the Sustainable Consumption and Production Office, Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Development Department of the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) also outlined the way forward in Vietnam: “We will pay more attention to sustainable design of plastic products. At the same time, we promote resource efficiency and cleaner production. We will strengthen the application of circular economy, connecting markets and environmental technologies.”

    After policy insights provided in the first part of the webinar, practical examples and needs were shared by Ms. Sabine Bartnik of the cyclos GmbH in Germay, Mr. Hoang Duc Vuong from the Vietnam Plastic Association and Mr. Crispian Lao, Representative from the Recycling Industry in the National Solid Waste Management Commission in the Philippines.

    Overall, 10 key messages for enchancing plastic recycling can be noted from the webinar:

    1. Plastic waste prevention and recycling are a cross-cutting issue between different policy realms and ministries as well as between the public and private sector.

    2. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) systems can contribute to enhancing cooperation along plastic packaging value chains and generate additional financial resources.

    3. Market demand for recycled plastics needs to be increased.

    4. The quality of recycled materials needs to be ensured.

    5. Certification schemes for plastic recycling facilities can increase trust along the value chain.

    6. Recycling targets are an important policy instrument. Their definition, monitoring and regular update are however crucial.

    7. High-quality recycling relies on good collection and segregation at source by households and businesses.

    8. Enhancing plastic recycling value chains requires the integration of informal workers and structures.

    9. The international trade of plastic waste attracts high public attention.

    10. International cooperation increases.

    The documentation summarizes the presentations and inputs given during the webinar.

    Policy Brief on EPR for Packaging Waste in Vietnam

    Country: Vietnam
    key Area: Consumption & Production
    Related item: Enhancing Plastic Packaging Collection, Sorting and Recycling
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    As one part of the ‘Rethinking Plastics’ activities in Vietnam, Expertise France and GIZ support the Department of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) in Vietnam in setting up a legal framework for the potential development of an EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) scheme in the packaging sector.

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    The project has developed, published and disseminated a Policy Brief on EPR for Packaging Waste in Vietnam as a framework document for decision-makers. It addresses the key principles and shares international experiences on EPR mechanisms and legal frameworks. The Policy Brief was developed in cooperation with the Department of Legal Affairs of (MONRE). It is available for download in English or in Vietnamese.