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A blueprint for better recycling of PET bottles in SE Asia

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A blueprint for better recycling of PET bottles in SE Asia | The Thaiger
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As leaders from around the world gather in Bangkok for the inaugural “SEA of Solutions: Partnership Week for Marine Plastic Pollution Prevention”, GA Circular has launched a new report ​“Full Circle: Accelerating the circular economy for post-consumer PET bottles in Southeast Asia”.

The report provides for the first time, systematic and comparable baseline collection rates for PET bottles (one of the most recyclable forms of plastic packaging) in Southeast Asia and highlights the need for a fundamental shift in the approach to driving circularity of PET bottles.

On a mission to create a world without waste by driving the transition towards a circular economy in Asia, GA Circular says that it is vital to move beyond singular efforts and work collectively on efforts to pull packaging material through the value chain by driving material value.

This report reveals that presently 54% of PET bottles sold in cities across the six Southeast Asian countries studied are collected-for-recycling (based on nine representative cities). The estimated national collected-for-recycling rate across the six countries is 26%. Across the six countries, a total of 660,000 tonnes of PET bottles was landfilled or leaked into the environment in 2018. This represents a loss of secondary material value of US$199 million.

A blueprint for better recycling of PET bottles in SE Asia | News by The Thaiger

Meanwhile, PET bottles are 100% recyclable and have one of the highest intrinsic post-consumer material values amongst the materials commonly used for consumer-goods packaging in Southeast Asia. It is for this reason that PET bottles are one of the most commonly collected items by the informal sector.

The informal sector is the backbone of collection for PET bottles in the six Southeast Asian countries, contributing to 97% of all PET collected-for-recycling in the nine cities studied – and so any solutions for Southeast Asia must include the informal sector.

Multiple efforts have been initiated by the industry and government over the past decade to increase collection and recycling, however most of these efforts have ceased within one to three years or have not ‘moved the needle’ in terms of increasing collected-for-recycling rates. The past initiatives have been quantified and are a ‘drop in the ocean’ relative to the amount of PET bottles consumed.

Against this backdrop and the projected growth in PET bottle consumption of 886,000 tonnes in 2018 to 1.52 million tonnes in 2030, it is critical to focus on systemic solutions. The most effective response to the challenges currently facing the post-consumer PET landscape in Southeast Asia is one that effectively and continually boosts the collection and recycling operations currently in place.

The report highlights key systemic solutions to drive circularity: an industry-led Packaging Recycling Organisation (PRO) focused on boosting the value chain (including benefitting the informal sector) coupled with supporting policies, the use of recycled content, and investments into increasing domestic recycling capacity. Similar models have seen success in comparable developing countries such as South Africa and Mexico. PET bottle collection and recycling rates have increased to over 55% in both countries. As of 2018, South Africa has a 66% recycling rate for PET bottle, with 100% of the material recycled locally.

Two other factors that play an important role are improved packaging design to improve the economics of recyclability, and national government and municipal efforts to impact source separation and separate collection.

A blueprint for better recycling of PET bottles in SE Asia | News by The Thaiger

Ashwin Subramaniam, Founder and CEO of GA Circular said “The report aims to shed light on the current realities for post-consumer packaging in Southeast Asia. A realistic baseline is critical in informing the direction and nature of solutions to be implemented and this is what this report provides. AcirculareconomyforPETpackagingis100%possibleintheregionanditisoursincere hope that the recommendations outlined in this report are fully considered by industry, policymakers and investors”.

By publishing the report, GA Circular said it sought to bring an important missing piece to packaging circularity solutions in Southeast Asia, demonstrating the key levers for industry, investors and policymakers to build a thriving and robust recycling industry.

“The report delivers a first-of-its-kind analysis of collection-for-recycling rates for PET plastic in key ASEAN cities and frames up a circular economy roadmap specifically tailored for the region, with a concrete set of recommendations geared towards interventions with the highest impact. At Coca-Cola, we are committed to executing these recommendations with our partners, and we have already begun to move in earnest. It is our hope that this report also helps to drive broader understanding, coordination and momentum in our shared efforts to tackle marine plastic pollution in Southeast Asia and globally” said ​Michael Goltzman, Vice President of Global Policy and Sustainability at The Coca-Cola Company.

GA Circular calls on companies and industry in Southeast Asia to adopt voluntary PROs focused on value creation mechanisms and material end markets; and for governments to support with enabling policies and standards for the circular economy, such as food grade recycled content standards, recycled content targets, and source separation and separate collection.

A blueprint for better recycling of PET bottles in SE Asia | News by The Thaiger

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GA Circular is a research and strategy firm specialising in circular economy, recycling and waste management. GA Circular’s mission is to create a world without waste by driving the transition to a circular economy in Asia. GA Circular collaborates with companies, government, international foundations, investors and multilateral agencies to unlock business opportunities from fast-growing streams of food and packaging waste across Asia.

Established in 2011, GA Circular is a B Corporation certified social business. GA Circular is headquartered in Singapore and operates throughout Southeast Asia and Southwest Asia.

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Environment

Thailand on fire – NASA satellite website tracks the country’s farm fires

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Thailand on fire – NASA satellite website tracks the country’s farm fires | The Thaiger

Thailand is burning. The burning off of harvested crop plantations is lighting up the agricultural areas. The truth is starkly revealed in the live NASA satellite feeds which track the fires around the world.

Thailand on fire - NASA satellite website tracks the country's farm fires | News by The Thaiger

CHART: Fires in the past 10 days around parts of Thailand – Firms.Modaps

Concentrations of the current fires can be seen in Central Thailand, north of Bangkok, parts of Isaan, north east of Bangkok, and around Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. Notably the concentration of fires in northern Cambodia and across the north-western border in Myanmar, is also causing plenty of problems as the foreign smoke drifts across the borders. No matter what Thai officials do to enforce the rice, sugar and corn plantation burn-offs, there is little they can do about the haze drifting across the borders.

Bangkok, so close to clusters of fires, is in for a bad air pollution day anytime the light winds of the start of the year blow from the north or the east. The lack of rain adds to the problem, the annual problem, that engulfs Thailand’s capital during days between December and April, with the worst month, statistically, being March.

The alternative method of preparing for the next harvest, mechanical removal of the refuse and waste after harvesting, is both unpopular in Thailand and economically unviable for the small farmers whose margins remain thin with the multi-national buyers of their produce pushing for lower and lower prices every year.

In Chiang Mai, from January to the end of March, the locals even call it the ‘burning season’. Coupled with the hot season, the farmers in northern Thailand burn their fields to prepare land for the next harvest and also to get rid of biowastes like corn that can’t be sold in the market. It’s officially illegal to do the burn offs but the lack of enforcement leaves the problem unresolved and the smog and haze remain as predictable as the annual wet season.

Chiang Mai also has a local geographic problem which exacerbates the bad smoke pollution. The city is in a valley, surrounded by hills, trapping in the smoke and helping block any breezes that could otherwise blow it away.

For today, Bangkok’s air pollution is better than the past two days but still registering as ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ with city readings mostly between 140 – 170. Parts of the city, mostly south-east and south west, were registering readings above 300 in the past few days.

Thailand on fire - NASA satellite website tracks the country's farm fires | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: IQair.com

Watch this video for some more information about Bangkok’s smog…

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Thailand

Wildfires hit Mae Hong Son’s Pai district

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Wildfires hit Mae Hong Son’s Pai district | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Several wildfires have broken out in Mae Hong Son’s Pai district in Northern Thailand. The governor says he believes that several blazes happening in the area are a result of the dry season arriving earlier than usual.

Using the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer system, the local forest fire control centre detected 155 so-called “heat points” in the Pai district from January 1 to 12. Last year’s dry season only 96 heat points were detected.

There are no reports of property damages, injuries, or deaths.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Thailand

Dead whale found washed up on Koh Samui beach

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Dead whale found washed up on Koh Samui beach | The Thaiger
PHOTO: สิทธิโรจน์ แก้วหนองเสม็ด

A dead Bryde’s whale was found washed up on Koh Samui’s Choeng Mon beach yesterday. By the look of the rotting carcass, said to be around 11 metres long, marine resource specialist Thon Thamrongnawasawat says he believes the whale died several days ago. The cause of death is currently under investigation by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, Thon said on Facebook.

“Currently, there are about 50 Bryde’s whales in the Gulf of Thailand. That means the situation of whales is still good and better than the dugongs. But I wish that there were no more 5 deaths per year from natural causes. If the death is over this limit, that will be worrying.”

The Bryde’s whales are spotted around the upper part of the Gulf of Thailand all year round, especially on the coastlines of Chonburi, Samut Prakan, Chachoengsao, Bang Khun Thian district of Bangkok, Samut Songkram and Petchaburi provinces.

SOURCE: Facebook | DMCR

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