G20 leaders must join the fight against plastic pollution

SPONSORED CONTENT: Heads of state are gathering in Bali, Indonesia, for the G20 Summit to discuss critical global priorities. Environmental and climate sustainability will therefore be a big focus, and the location in Indonesia is particularly pertinent, given it has been ranked as the number two source of ocean plastic pollution. The summit gives leaders an opportunity to work towards solutions to issues like this one.

G20 leaders must join the fight against plastic pollution

A country of 17,000 islands and no drinkable water from the tap, Indonesia has little to no quality recycling facilities outside of Java Island, which means the other islands are desperately in need of outlets for their consumed plastic. The current reality is that much of it is leaking into the oceans and environment. But, with the right model, it is possible to mobilise informal plastic collection in these regions to make a substantial impact. Indonesia’s rural communities are greatly in need of income opportunities, along with incentive models that will help mobilise informal waste collection to reduce plastic that goes into the ocean.

That’s why we’re convening our own experts during the G20 Summit to drive real action on the ground. Representatives of the Indonesian Waste Picker Union are joining us in Bali, travelling from five different islands to discuss their specific work, successes and challenges. It’s essential we listen, not just to the leaders, but to the people working on the front lines of the plastic crisis if we are to build a reliable, high quality and transparent market for recycled materials.

Alongside listening and learning, we’ll be showing these experts our work with progressive global partners, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Circulate Capital, through Prevented Ocean Plastic South East Asia. Traditionally Semarang, one of the largest cities in Java, has not had an economically or logistically feasible recycling system. But we are using USAID investment to expand collection and recycling infrastructure, build local government capacity for solid waste management planning and management, and mobilise and empower the informal waste sector, which is critical to local waste management but often under resourced and represented. We are very close to launching our first aggregation facility through this partnership, which will process about 30 tons of material per day and will help to provide new income for roughly 100 individuals.

However, to make more schemes like this viable, we need demand. Sadly, many global companies are falling short when it comes to recycled plastic and this is set to get worse, as an increasing number use cost cutting as an excuse to drive down standards in their supply chains.

We are on a mission to address the problems of the recycling industry by providing sustainable, long-term recycling supply solutions that reduce the need for virgin plastic, support collection, and clean up our natural environment. We are confident that our new standards will both support and encourage our industry to push the envelope on what’s possible for a circular economy.

And we want everyone to join us. Which is why we’re offering and open invited to progressive businesses and policy makers to meet my team at the G20 and discuss what’s possible. The doors of our Prevented Ocean Plastic Research centre on the Richmond Green are always open to discuss how we can all make a positive impact implementing a circular economy over the long term.

We can all do better and make better choices. From Lidl to Louis Vuitton.

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