Initiative pledges $150 million to fight SE Asia ocean plastics problem
Major brands, non-profit organizations, and industry groups have joined together to raise $150 million to promote the collection and recycling of plastics debris that may otherwise wind up in the world’s oceans.
The initiative is designed to fund waste management and recycling solutions in Southeast Asia, with a focus on investments to improve collection, sorting, and recycling markets. Nearly half of the plastic that flows into the ocean every year – an estimated 8 million metric tons – escapes from waste streams in just five rapidly developing economies in Asia: Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and China.
“This is a major breakthrough in the fight for trash free seas,” said Susan Ruffo, managing director of international initiatives at Ocean Conservancy. “Our research has found that by improving waste management in Southeast Asian countries, we can cut the flow of plastic going in the ocean by half by 2025. A funding mechanism will take this goal from dream to reality, and support efforts by governments and local groups on the ground to improve their livelihoods and well-being while also improving ocean health.”
The new funding mechanism will be operated by Closed Loop Partners, an investment firm which has invested in recycling infrastructure across the U.S. to boost materials recovery.
“Through this initiative, we will invest in and support the municipalities, entrepreneurs, investors and NGOs working to reduce ocean plastics and improve waste management in Southeast Asia,” said Rob Kaplan of Closed Loop Partners. “Our investments across North America have resulted in tangible improvements to waste collection and recycling. Our model is to take the best practices in waste management investment, leverage the world’s largest consumer goods supply chains, and marry them with on-the-ground partner expertise and work.”
Supporting the initiative is the Trash Free Seas Alliance, made up 28 nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Five members of the group have already pledged enough money to fully fund the design phase of the effort: PepsiCo, 3M, Procter & Gamble, the American Chemistry Council, and the World Plastics Council.