by Ellen Putri Edita and Hendro Putra Johannes • 15 March 2021

On 24-25 February 2021, the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs, Indonesia (CMMIA) and the Ministry of the Environment, Japan (MOEJ) held an online workshop with the topic “Strengthening Capacity for Marine Debris Reduction and Waste Management in ASEAN Region through Knowledge Sharing on Marine Litter”.

Referring to the national and regional frameworks, such as ASEAN Framework on Action on Marine Debris, Osaka Blue Ocean Vision, and G20 Implementation Framework for Actions on Marine Plastic Litter, the workshop aims to share information on the efforts of each country in ASEAN+3 region related to waste management and reduction of marine plastic litter.

The first day of the workshop was started by a welcome remark from Mr Tomohiro Kondo, the Vice-Minister of the MOEJ. In his speech, Mr Kondo expressed his continuous commitment for cooperation among ASEAN countries on the marine plastic issue. He added that the knowledge obtained from the webinar will be shared among partners and disseminated through the Regional Knowledge Centre for Marine Plastic Debris (RKC-MPD).

Session 1 of the webinar discussed about best practices of national action plans and output of the Japan-ASEAN Integrated Fund (JAIF) Phase 1. Mr Tatsuya Abe from MOEJ began the first session by sharing the action plan from Japanese government, which consists of eight areas. He also highlighted two activities from the MOEJ: the issuance of guidelines for harmonizing ocean surface microplastic monitoring methods and plastic smart campaign.

The second speaker was Mr Satoshi Sasakura from IDEA Consultants. In his presentation, Mr Sasakura introduced the result of Phase 1 and proposal of Phase II of JAIF project. The Phase I performed survey of national action plan development and identified the gaps. Meanwhile, the Phase II will design national action plan for countries in need.

The third speaker of this session was Mr Rofi Alhanif from CMMIA. Mr Alhanif highlighted achievements by Indonesian government. The country, by far, has a target to reduce up to 70 percent of plastic pollution by 2025. The target consists of five main strategies: stakeholders’ awareness, land-based waste management, coastal and sea-based waste management, institutional reinforcement, and research and development. During 2018 until 2020, Indonesia has successfully reduced the plastic pollution by 15.3 percent.

Mr Eddy Mazuaansyah continued the session by delivering a presentation about national strategy of Malaysia to reduce marine plastic pollution. The country commits to reduce the marine plastic pollution up to 85 percent by 2030. In order to achieve the target, five strategies are applied: policy development, technology development by business actor, monitoring and data collection, public awareness, and inclusivity.

The first session was closed by a presentation from Ms Wassana Jangprajak from Pollution Control Department, Thailand. In her presentation, Ms Jangprajak mentioned that Thailand has developed roadmap on plastic waste management for 2018-2030 period.

The second session talked about technology, innovation, and actions for prevention and management of marine plastic litter. Mr Cheang Kok Chung from ASEAN Working Group on Chemicals and Waste explained the transboundary plastic waste trade control as one of the programmes under the working group. He also emphasized the importance of Basel Convention for a better plastic waste management.

Mr Noy Check from Battambang City, Cambodia continued the session by delivering a presentation about the pilot projects of waste separation and waste collection from rivers in the city. The third speaker was Ms Tuti Hadiputranto from National Plastic Action Plan (NPAP) Indonesia. She mentioned that around 61 percent if Indonesia’s waste is not collected. As such, NPAP with its 60 members is expected to create collaboration to support the effort of government of Indonesia to reduce the plastic pollution.

As the next speaker, Mr Bing Chomprasob from Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) introduced the partnerships between the alliance and governments as well as other organizations. In practice, the AEPW has four pillars of activity, consisting of infrastructure, innovation, education, and clean-up. Mr. Akihito Yamashita from Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Japan discussed about a collaboration between the Japanese government and the industrial sector, focusing on marine biodegradable plastic.

Last but not least, Ms Yuko Koshiishi from Suntory Holdings Limited explained the partnership between Suntory and Japan Clean Ocean Material Alliance (CLOMA), in which CLOMA has different key actions, including reduction of plastics, material recycling, chemical recycling, and biodegradability of paper and cellulose materials.

Session 3 discussed scientific approach for managing leakages and monitoring marine plastics. Mr Michikazu Kojima from Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) mentioned various countermeasures to combat marine plastic debris, from upstream to downstream. To implement such countermeasures effectively, it is important to fill current scientific gaps.

Mrs Janet Salem from United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) demonstrated early results from Closing the Loop project, which involved digital mapping tools in monitoring hotspots.

Mr Fujio Kojima from Pirika Inc. presented Pirika initiatives through anti-litter mobile-based app, urban litter survey utilising artificial intelligence, and low-cost microplastic survey. However, major challenges in ASEAN countries, such as limited capacity and harmonisation of methods, were discovered by Mr Muhammad Reza Cordova from Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

To address such challenges, a regional platform is needed. Mr Dida Migfar Ridha from Ministry for Environment and Forestry of Indonesia introduced knowledge management platform developed by Regional Capacity Center for Clean Seas (RC3S). While Mr Kojima emphasised the necessity to utilise Regional Knowledge Centre for Marine Plastic Debris (RKC-MPD) to share current understanding and stimulate future studies.

In line with the necessity to undertake collaborative efforts as discussed in Session 3, Session 4 elaborated on how to effectively mobilize on-going initiatives by bi-lateral and multi-lateral cooperation agencies for science, technology, and innovation needs of ASEAN countries. International organisations, including The World Bank, The Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), shared status of international cooperation on marine plastic debris in the region as well as opportunities to strengthen such cooperation.