event details - Rethinking Plastics: Engaging Business Sector for a Circular Economy

event details - Rethinking Plastics: Engaging Business Sector for a Circular Economy-SDPI

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Rethinking Plastics: Engaging Business Sector for a Circular Economy


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Almost 400 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated every year as per the findings by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Furthermore, approximately 98% of single-use plastic products are made from fossil fuel, or "virgin" feedstock. The greenhouse gas emissions related with the manufacturing, use, and disposal of conventional fossil fuel-based plastics are expected to reach 19% of the global carbon budget by 2040. In 2021, the world produced 139 million metric tonnes of single-use plastic waste and now it has been estimated that If nothing is done, global plastic manufacturing will quadruple by 2060. According to the UNEP Executive Director, Ms Inger Anderson:

“Even with all the possible shifts to reduce plastic pollution, however, the world will still have to manage around 100 million metric tons of plastic waste from short-lived products by 2040”

For this reason, one aspect of addressing plastic pollution is embracing the concept of plastics circularity. Plastics circularity refers to the idea of keeping plastics within the economy and out of the environment by reducing waste generation, promoting recycling, and reusing plastic materials. It is a departure from the traditional linear model of production, consumption, and disposal, which leads to a significant loss of resources and exacerbates environmental harm.

Pakistan, a developing country with a population of over 220 million, faces immense challenge in context of the plastic pollution. The country produces plastic waste which is equivalent to the height of two K2 mountains. The reason being is that plastic waste accumulates as a result of the nation's expanding consumption and inadequate waste management infrastructure. Hence, plastic pollution affects rivers, towns, and rural regions alike, not only harming the environment but also posing health hazards to communities. To address this issue successfully, an integrated bottom-up approach including stakeholders from public and private sector is required. This is where the Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups can play a role. By harnessing the innovative potential of SMEs and startups, impactful solutions can be unlocked to address the plastic problem. These businesses can develop and implement sustainable practices, introduce eco-friendly packaging options, and innovate in waste management systems. Their agility helps them to respond rapidly to market needs and adjust their business models to comply with sustainable ideals. Furthermore, involving SMEs and startups in the fight against plastic pollution not only benefits the environment but also has a great potential to provide economic opportunities.

To discuss the potential of SMEs and startups in addressing the issue, SDPI, under the Network of Circular Economy (NCE) is organizing a hybrid stakeholder consultation on 24th May from 3:00-4:30 pm.

The consultation will focus mainly around the following key questions:

  1. What are the barriers and opportunities in transitioning from single-use plastic to more circular and eco-friendly alternatives?
  2. How can SMEs and startups integrate circular design principles into their product development processes, focusing on durability, repairability, and recyclability of plastic products?
  3. What strategies can be employed to incentivize consumers to make more informed choices and actively participate in circular economy practices, such as recycling and reusing plastic products?
  4. What financial incentives or funding mechanisms are available to provide support to the SMEs and startups move to circular business models and create long-term change?
  5. What financial tools, such as green bonds, impact investments, or circular economy funds, may be created to assist SMEs and startups in transitioning to circular business models?
  6. How can standardised reporting systems, such as circular economy impact assessment tools or sustainability certifications, be used to demonstrate SMEs' and startups' circularity achievements?
  7. What specific green skills and competencies are needed to support the transition to a circular economy in sectors such as waste management, recycling, sustainable design, and resource optimisation?

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