Facilitating conversations on plastic waste issues in the region – UN Ocean Conference 2022

The 2022 UN Ocean Conference, co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Portugal, is an international conference aimed at exploring solutions to ensure the conservation and sustainable the world’s oceans, seas, and marine resources. The Conference, held from 27 June to 1 July 2022, seeks to address the threats to health, ecology, economy, and governance of the ocean.[1]

Plastic waste is a major issue in Southeast Asia and has caused problems such as the contamination of the food chain, adverse health effects from microplastics, as well as land, water, and air pollution. Research has shown that the share of marine ocean plastics is over 80 percent and by 2050, it is projected that there will be more plastics than fish in the oceans.[2] Globally, it is estimated that five of the largest contributors of marine ocean plastics are countries in Southeast Asia.[3] This transboundary regional, and ultimately global environmental problem largely stems from factors such as inadequate solid waste management systems, unsustainable plastic production and consumption patterns, urbanisation, and economic growth.

In response to this challenge, AlphaBeta has worked with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Food Industry Asia (FIA) to assess the level of understanding of plastic waste issues in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam, countries that are major contributors to marine ocean plastics.

Cheng Wei Swee, Senior Manager of AlphaBeta (part of Access Partnership), presented the key findings from our study during the UN Ocean Conference, sharing business and consumer attitudes towards plastic waste in the region, how they are tackling plastic waste issues today, as well as their perspectives on best ways to tackle these issues moving forward. Cheng Wei also covered the prominent changes in consumer and business sentiments over the past two years during the Conference.

The report with these insights from our plastic perception study is forthcoming. In the meantime, you may read the report published in 2020 and join in the conversation.

[1] United Nations (2022), “About the 2022 UN Ocean Conference”. Available at: https://www.un.org/en/conferences/ocean2022/about

[2] Sources include IUCN (2018), IUCN Issues Brief – Marine Plastics, May 2018. Available at: https://www.iucn.org/sites/dev/files/marine_plastics_issues_brief_final_0.pdf; World Economic Forum, Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey & Company (2016), The New Plastics Economy — Rethinking the future of plastics (http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation. org/publications).

[3] Norwegian Institute for Water Research (2021), Plastic Pollution in Indonesia and the Philippines: current status and upcoming knowledge needs. Available at: http://pemsea.org/sites/default/files/NIVA_ASEANO_Project_Basline_Report.pdf

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