WB supports marine plastic litter reduction in Asean, PH

World Bank Waste Reduction

A director attends the plenary session of the IMF and World Bank Fall Annual Meetings in Washington, DC on October 18, 2019. (Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

MANILA, Philippines—With a $20 million grant to ASEAN, the World Bank is supporting measures to reduce plastic waste dumped in the region’s waters.

In a statement, the World Bank said its Washington-based board on June 22 approved grant funding for the Southeast Asia Regional Marine Plastics Program.

“The project aims to reduce plastic consumption, increase recycling and minimize leakage to prevent land and marine marine plastic pollution. It will also support coastal and blue economies, which are particularly affected by marine litter and its effects on several key sectors – fisheries, tourism and maritime transport,” the World Bank said.

Specifically, the World Bank said it and the ASEAN Secretariat as well as regional and national partners will “strengthen policies and regulatory frameworks governing the production and use of plastics in Southeast Asia.”

“Southeast Asia has become a plastic pollution hotspot due to rapid urbanization and a burgeoning middle class. The economic costs are significant, with direct damage to key sectors of the economy blue in ASEAN member states alone being estimated at $2.1 billion in 2015. Additionally, the entire life cycle of plastic, including its manufacture and transportation, creates billions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions,” the World Bank said.

“Reducing plastic pollution in the world’s rivers and oceans requires national-level action and collective, coordinated efforts. We are excited to support ASEAN member states to work together to reduce marine plastic pollution and address the negative effects plastics can have on the economy, environment, climate and health.” said Manuela Ferro, World Bank Vice President for East Asia and the Pacific.

“Our seas and coasts are crucial to our lives and livelihoods, but they are under immense pressure, including from marine plastic pollution, which can harm human health and negatively impact industries. tourism and fishing vital to the economies of our region. This regional project demonstrates the commitment and determination of our Member States to proactively address this cross-border issue and improve the health of our oceans and the lives of the many people in ASEAN who depend on it,” said the Secretary General. from ASEAN, Dato Lim Jock Hoi. said.

Also on June 22, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) unveiled its new flagship program to combat plastic pollution of the world’s oceans, called the Save Our Seas Initiative, which, according to the branch of assistance from the U.S. government, “will include $62.5 million in seed funding and launch 14 new national and regional programs in key countries and regions that account for 40% of the world’s total mismanaged plastic waste.

In a June 21 report titled “Marine Plastic Management: The Gender Dimensions,” the World Bank said that “about 55-60% of global plastic waste leakage comes from five developing economies: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam”. .”

The World Bank has listed the top 10 marine plastic litter in the Philippines, led by food packaging; cigarette butts; plastic bottle caps; plastic bottles for beverages; straws and stirrers; other plastic bags; plastic take-out containers; plastic grocery bags; plastic lids; as well as plastic cups and plates.

“An estimated annual consumption of household plastic packaging in the Philippines is 1,281,000 tons, with a per capita rate of 12.4 kilograms,” the World Bank said.

“In the Philippines, plastics was the fifth largest import and as of March 2019 was worth $235.04 million, an increase of 14.2% over the previous year. The total production of plastics in 2019 in the Philippines was estimated at 2,592,000 tonnes,” the World Bank noted.

In a report last year, the World Bank said that while the Philippines is struggling to dispose of plastic waste, as the 2.7 million tons Filipinos throw away each year puts a strain on the environment, recycling this waste could turn into millions of dollars in cash.

According to the World Bank report “Market Study for the Philippines: Opportunities and Barriers to Plastics Circularity,” the country “currently struggles with unsustainable plastic production/consumption and insufficient solid waste management infrastructure. “.

The World Bank noted that plastics production contributed $2.3 billion to the Philippine economy in 2018, as many poor and middle-income households use cheap consumer goods made available in plastic containers. plastic.

“A heavy reliance on single-use plastics like pouches and multi-ply pouches has led the Philippines to become a ‘pouch economy’ which continues to exacerbate the alarming levels of marine plastic pollution in the region,” the World Bank said. with approximately 163 million sachets consumed in the country per day.

Sadly, a fifth of these plastics were improperly disposed of and simply dumped in the ocean, the World Bank said, so marine debris was endangering the livelihoods of national fishing, shipping and transportation sectors. tourism.

The World Bank had said that only 28% of key plastic resins like polyethylene terephthalate (PET), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) were recycled in the Philippines in 2019, even if recycling could not only save money but also generate additional cash.

According to the World Bank, “78% of the material value of major plastic resins – more than $890 million per year – is lost in the Philippines when recyclable plastic products are discarded rather than recycled into valuable materials”.

It didn’t help that the Philippines “had a large recycling capacity gap of 85% in 2019 (compared to Malaysia and Thailand for all four resins) and was a net exporter of plastic waste,” it said. the World Bank.

Plastics recycling in the Philippines has also been hampered by expensive electricity and high logistics costs, an aggressive informal recycling sector outpacing formal recyclers, a lot of hard-to-recycle and low-value waste, low landfill fees, and a low quality of recycled products, noted the World Bank.

“Many of these challenges are magnified by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Changes in consumption patterns and low waste collection rates have led to supply cuts in the recycling industry, while low oil prices have made it cheaper to use virgin rather than recycled plastic said the World Bank.

To overcome these barriers to plastics recycling in the Philippines, the World Bank had recommended the following interventions: increasing sorting efficiency; set recycled content targets for all major end-use applications; require “design for recycling” standards for plastics; impose more chemical and mechanical recycling capacities; create industry-specific requirements to collect post-use plastics; as well as restricting the disposal of plastics.

These interventions would ultimately build demand and maximize the value of recycled plastics in the Philippines, according to the World Bank.


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Bryce K. Locke