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Innovation for Plastics Circularity

Transitioning to a circular economy, it is critical to increase the adoption of waste as a resource. Currently, the price of virgin materials is lower than that of materials produced from waste. To make waste-based materials more competitive, we need

1. To reduce the cost of recycling and improve the quality of the material

  • Improve product design and adopt circular design

  • change consumer behavior to improve waste separation and sorting

  • innovation on sorting

  • innovation for materials processing physically and chemically

  • build the optimized reverse logistics and circular supply chain from waste collection, processing, materials distribution/supply to new product manufacturing/distribution/sales.

2. Policy intervention

STEAM Platform organized its end of the year webinar, "Plastics Circular Economy Heros: Innovation for Adding Value to Plastic Waste," on Nov. 26th, 2021. The event, attracting over 180 registration, featured leadership practices from Australia, Canada, Singapore, Thailand, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). It covers technology & innovation on waste sorting (from manual, mechanical to digital given by James Baker, a circular economy specialist from ADB), physical recycling (from product design, products for everyday use, to products for high-end real estate showcased by Woraporn Poonyakanok, Rumana Hossain and Ludovick Bernier-Michaud), chemical recycling (new platform materials from plastic waste presented by Lili Zhang from A*STAR Singapore), waste to energy (module recycling platform by Nicholas Foster from IQ Energy Australia).

Speakers shared the Challenges they faced and provided recommendations including

  • need public-private partnership to level the playing field encouraging the private sector to invest in recycling and producing products using recycled materials, creating the economies of scale making recycled materials competitive compared with virgin materials.

  • develop a standard of materials composition for packaging.

  • consider long-term consequences of adopting recycled materials during the product design phase to eliminate nano/microplastics pollution.

  • need to develop reliable technology for scaling through capacity building

  • invest in education to change consumer behavior and build consumer confidence in the adoption of recycled materials

  • Adopt holistic approach engaging government, industry, and R&D institution;

  • industries must be involved in the entire value chain from design, policy, R&D, production, services, and end of use/life

  • Need platforms such as STEAM Platform to connect different stakeholders, to build the ecosystem, and to create partnerships &build investors' confidence

  • Strategic Communication on products made from recycled materials or circular products in general with storytelling.

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