Countries are using innovative methods to measure and monitor plastics leakage on land and into rivers and regional seas. Globally successful examples of market-based instruments and legislation are also being tried out. ASEAN members are looking for guidance and best practices to enable customization.
Heralded as a miracle material in the mid-20th century, plastics now touch every aspect of daily life worldwide. But the explosion of plastic waste poses significant threats – and associated costs – for public health, livelihoods and the environment.
Today, an estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic are entering the ocean each year. And without urgent action, this amount will triple over the next two decades.
Southeast Asia has emerged as a hot spot for plastic pollution, with its rapid urbanization, rising middle class and inadequate infrastructure for waste management. Half of the top 10 countries contributing to plastic leakage to rivers and seas are located here. And COVID-19 has been a pandemic of plastic, triggering huge increases in the consumption of masks, sanitizer bottles, online delivery packaging and other single-use items.
The plastics economy is generally a cycle of take, make and waste.