The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) said the ‘Closing the Loop' project would support governments by addressing plastic waste pollution and leakages into the marine environment.
ESCAP says to do this, the project will use remote sensing, satellite and crowd-sourced data applications to detect and monitor the sources and pathways of plastic waste entering rivers in urban catchment areas. Four ASEAN cities will pilot the project: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Surabaya, Indonesia; Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand; and Da Nang, Vietnam.
"Cities are on the front line in addressing plastic waste in ASEAN, which is the world's most polluting region when it comes to ocean plastics. The proliferation of plastic pollution in our oceans is a serious climate change hazard, and thanks to the strong support of the government of Japan, this innovative new project comes at a timely moment to accelerate action on the issue," ESCAP official Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana said.
ESCP says fast-growing cities in south-east Asia are responsible for as much as 60% of plastic waste leakage into the environment. 75% of land-based sources of marine plastic pollution in the region originates from uncollected waste and 25% from leakages in the municipal waste management systems. Plastic pollution is also trans-boundary - up to 95% of plastic in our ocean is transported by 10 major rivers, eight of which are in Asia.
ESCAP says the project will produce plastic waste maps and simulations for each pilot city and will train officials and stakeholders in ASEAN cities to use smart technologies to monitor, assess, report on and sustainably manage plastic waste as well as further strengthen municipal solid waste management systems. Urban policy makers will also be provided the tools and know-how to develop policy and investment strategies which apply a circular economy approach in managing their plastic waste streams.
The need for regional cooperation to address this critical issue was recognized by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: "Marine plastic litter is another issue which cannot be resolved by some countries alone. Under such circumstances, the fact that the G20 was able to unite and share the Osaka Blue Ocean Vision, which aims to reduce additional pollution by marine plastic litter to zero by 2050, represents a major step forward towards resolving this issue."
The ‘Closing the Loop' project supports local implementation of the ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris and the G20 Osaka Blue Vision to tackle the proliferation of plastic litter, both of which accelerate action towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and 14 (Life Below Water).