Business group urges Asean-level effort to curb plastic waste

An elderly worker sorting plastic waste in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia.
JULY 29, 2020 - 12:14 PM

ASEAN governments were urged on Wednesday (July 29) to develop the circular economy - with a focus on plastic waste - to drive sustainable growth in the long term.

Waste collection, separation and reuse systems were among the practices proposed by the EU-Asean Business Council, which advocates for European businesses in South-east Asia.

The council also called on countries to formalise the waste management sector, as well as to set regional standards for recycling labels across Asean.

On a regional level, the Asean Secretariat could lead research into sustainable polymers and packaging and negotiate a regional framework agreement on plastic pollution, it added.

These recommendations were put forward to address a reported lack of systems for the collection, sorting and profitable reprocessing of plastic waste into new products.

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Waste management in South-east Asia involves “significant participation” from the informal sector, which governments will need to integrate into the economy by focusing on capacity-building and skills, according to the industry group’s position paper.

“The private sector welcomes policies which aim to minimise compliance costs and incentivise new innovation and sustainable practices,” the EU-Asean Business Council said.

“Innovation and new technology are key to transition the throwaway culture to one… where resource conservation and effective waste disposal are top priorities.”

A circular approach to plastic waste in Asean could lower production costs, create jobs, and boost trade and investment with like-minded partners such as the European Union and South Korea, the EU-Asean Business Council suggested in a statement.

Council chairman Donald Kanak added that a circular economy approach “will be vital in addressing the environmental complications stemming from climate change and the increasing amounts of waste produced by Asean’s fast-expanding economies and populations”.