Battling a tide of marine plastic as COVID-19 exacerbates the problem


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In Vietnam, Thailand, other Asian countries, and other regions like Latin America and Africa, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank are catalyzing a transition to a circular economy by evaluating chains value of plastics and supporting private sector investments in new markets for materials, sustainable packaging and recycling.

For example, IFC recently granted the very first blue loan exclusively focused on tackling marine plastic pollution to Indorama Ventures, a global manufacturer of plastic resin. The US $ 300 million financial package will help Indorama meet its goal of recycling 50 billion PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles around the world by 2025, particularly in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Brazil .

In South Asia, a new US $ 50 million regional project will help reduce plastic pollution in the region and scale up eco-innovation to reinvent plastic and single-use production.

IFC also helps banks develop innovative financing instruments for projects that protect the oceans and the millions of livelihoods of the vulnerable populations that depend on them.

In addition, IFC supports subnational governments and private sector actors along the plastics value chain, including resin manufacturers, global brands and recyclers who all have a role to play in addressing the plastics.

This work is harnessed by World Bank programs such as PROBLUE, which supports around 40 pledges on plastic pollution in all regions. For example, in Nigeria, PROBLUE supports regional plastics value chain assessments and fills knowledge gaps. In Mozambique, the World Bank is working with the government and the private sector to find innovative and environmentally friendly solutions and create jobs that benefit the environment.

Response to the pandemic

To respond to pandemic and economic shutdowns, World Bank commits US $ 160 billion by June 2021 to support countries as they face health and economic crises and strive to recover.

There is an opportunity and a responsibility to rebuild in a sustainable, greener, bluer and more prosperous way. As an essential public service, solid waste management must be a priority in recovery plans.

New policy incentives can be built into stimulus packages to reduce plastic waste, improve plastic waste management, and adopt policies to properly sort and convert plastics into valuable resources while avoiding environmental and economic costs. Currently, low oil prices create a significant opportunity to level the playing field for recycled plastic by reducing fuel subsidies that favor virgin plastic and drain scarce tax resources.

To reduce plastic pollution and keep our oceans healthy, we need to rebuild bluer , with all sectors that innovate and collaborate at each stage of the value chain.

Just as green capital can be an engine for jobs and development, blue capital can contribute to reconstruction, poverty reduction and food security. The investment is worth it.

This editorial originally appeared in the Straits Times.


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