Recycling Plastics in Asian City Environments (RePLACE)

Project objective
This project aims to develop a collaborative, innovative, postgraduate educational study unit aimed at the Asia-Pacific region to identify approaches for recycling plastics. The final outcome of this project – the RePLACE course – aims to provide in-depth knowledge and critical understanding of key concepts related to recycling and its applications at different levels.

Background
As the Asia-Pacific region continues to experience rapid economic and population growth, the problem of plastic waste entering soil, rivers and oceans and causing damage to environments and biota will only magnify. Globally, 275 million tonnes of plastic waste is produced every year, with 99.5 million tonnes entering oceans consistently. It is estimated that China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are responsible for more than 60% of the plastic waste entering the world’s oceans. To address this, sustainable practices to reduce plastic disposal and to encourage reuse and recycling need to be adopted globally. Developing countries with documented poor plastic waste management can benefit from the experiences of developed countries, and perhaps develop their own successful strategies for recycling plastic. Educational institutions can also play a bigger role by incorporating plastic recycling strategies into course material, and in turn develop models that will provide a common framework for major environmental (land, water and marine) issues and management in developing countries.

Project leader
RMIT University

Project members
TERI University
Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City


Project Policy Briefs

Required Plastic Pollution Mitigation Policy Frameworks for Australia
by Nagalakshmi Haleyura, b,*, Sayali Patila, b, Esmaeil Shahsavaria,b, Andrew S Balla,b

a School of Science, RMIT University, Bundoora, Melbourne, VIC 3083, Australia
b Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Remediation, RMIT University, Bundoora, Melbourne, VIC 3083, Australia
*Corresponding author: nagalakshmi.haleyur@rmit.edu.au

Highlights
In Australia, plastic pollution has gained greater attention than any other pollution-related issue. This is largely because of the extensive use of plastics for various purposes and its potential hazard to various ecosystems. This policy brief presents several recommendations and frameworks that could be applied by Australian legislative and government authorities to achieve reduction in plastic pollution and therefore protect the environment.

Read the full project policy brief here.

 

Plastic Pollution in Vietnam: What Policy Makers Can Do in Regard to Plastic Waste Problems
by Ngo Nguyen Vu, Pham Thi Hoa
International University, Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City

Highlights
To address plastic pollution in cities, policy makers should focus on the two groups that can make the most effective impact to the situation: Students (young generation) and Lawmakers (law regulators).

Read the full project policy brief here.

 

Waste Management in Cities Can Have a Global Impact
by Ritu Ahujaa, Suneel Pandeyb*

a Project Associate, Centre for Global Environment Research, Earth Science and Climate Change Division, The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi 110003
b Director and Senior Fellow, Centre for Waste Management, Environment and Waste Management Division, The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi 110003
*Corresponding author

Read the full project policy brief here.

 

Learning Cases

Environmental Impact of Microplastics: An Australian Scenario – Plastic Pollution Mitigation Policy Framework for the Continent of Australia
by Sayali Patila,b, Nagalakshmi Haleyura,b,*, Esmaeil Shahsavaria,b, Andrew S Balla,b

a School of Science, RMIT University, Bundoora, Melbourne, VIC 3083, Australia
b Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Remediation, RMIT University, Bundoora, Melbourne, VIC 3083, Australia
*Corresponding author: nagalakshmi.haleyur@rmit.edu.au

Abstract
Considering the increasing production of plastics all over the world, handling and managing their disposal in a rational manner is becoming a tedious task. Improper disposal and land filling practices based on political expediency rather than scientific evidence are subsequently causing tremendous damage to environmental ecology and biodiversity. There is an urgent need to curb excessive use of plastics by finding potential solutions based on the 4Rs (Reuse, Replace, Recycle and Refuse). A stringent policy framework is an important aspect to design the rules and regulations for plastic producers, retailers, and consumers to avoid environmental and ecological damage. This section will deal with numerous action plans and policy programs framed by States and Territories of Australia for effective implementation of plastic use. Australian state and territorial governments have the primary responsibility for managing waste plastic through legislation, policy, regulations, strategy and planning, as well as permitting and licensing of waste transport, storage, and treatment and disposal operations. The policy frameworks in each state and territory differ, but there are common themes and some coordination through the Australian Federal Government or through direct discussions and sharing by the states and territories.

Read the full learning case here.

 

The General Situation on Plastic Pollution and Current Policy for Plastic Pollution Mitigation in Vietnam
by Ngo Nguyen Vu, Pham Thi Hoa
International University, Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City

Abstract
In developing countries, unplanned urban expansion often generates waste much faster than local authorities can collect and dispose of it, causing an emerging risk to both urban area’s ecology and human health over the long term. This issue is particularly severe in regards to plastic waste, where disposal practices are often not environmentally friendly nor effective. For example, the management of plastic waste in urban areas within Vietnam is relatively ineffective, with a large proportion of plastic waste ending up unrecycled, eventually finding its way into the environment through various mediums. Within urban areas of Vietnam, the most common pathways for plastic waste to enter the environment are through indiscriminate littering and improper sorting, meaning much plastic waste ends up mixed with other wastes in landfills. Plastic waste that makes its way into marine environments also contributes to marine pollution through the leaching of chemicals contained in plastic into ocean water, threatening the feeding habits and life-cycles of marine wildlife. To propose an effective plastic mitigation program is a complicated endeavor and requires many insights into different fields of science and policy.

Read the full learning case here.

 

Environmental Sustainability: A Case Study
by Ritu Ahujaa, Suneel Pandeyb*

a Project Associate, Centre for Global Environment Research, Earth Science and Climate Change Division, The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi 110003
b Director and Senior Fellow, Centre for Waste Management, Environment and Waste Management Division, The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi 110003
*Corresponding author

Abstract
Environmental sustainability is desired by emerging economies like India, however the nation is on a path of rapid economic development which requires high resource use. The juxtaposition between desired sustainability and over-use of resources is typified by the use of plastics in the Indian economy, and the subsequent generation as waste from single use plastics. This paper presents novel initiatives regarding the use of plastic wastes in different applications within the Indian context such as recycling, creating bio-based plastics, using plastic waste in road construction, and co-processing, which all have the potential to address waste from single use plastics within the country.

Read the full learning case here.

 

Curriculum Reports

Environmental Impact of Microplastics: An Australian Scenario – Development of Learning Materials for Understanding the Environmental Impact of Microplastics
by Sayali Patila,b, Nagalakshmi Haleyura,b,*, Esmaeil Shahsavaria,b, Andrew S Balla,b

a School of Science, RMIT University, Bundoora, Melbourne, VIC 3083, Australia
b Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Remediation, RMIT University, Bundoora, Melbourne, VIC 3083, Australia
*Corresponding author: nagalakshmi.haleyur@rmit.edu.au

Description
Pollution of pristine environmental resources such as water, air, and soil by various anthropogenic activities is becoming a serious cause of concern worldwide. Besides many other sources of pollution, plastics especially microplastics, have emerged as a rapidly spreading environmental pollutant. Excessive use of plastics in various forms in industrial and/or household applications – and their further improper disposal and disintegration into microplastics – has led to water, soil, and air pollution. This has severely disturbed the ecological balance of marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. It’s been predicted that by 2050 the ocean will have a greater mass of plastic in marine water than all aquatic species combined, which highlights an alarming situation if plastic pollution is not controlled. Considering this severity, we will shed a light on the current burning issue of microplastic pollution by addressing various aspects such as sources of plastics, their applications, pathways of plastic debris entering the environment, and their deteriorating impacts on both ecology and human health. Moreover, preventative and control measures are recommended to avoid the environmental damage caused by microplastics. Case studies specific to the Australian continent are also discussed to highlight the global issue of microplastic pollution. In short, this case study will give readers an insight into the global status of plastic pollution, political resolutions, upcoming research trends and environmental policies to help to maintain environmental sustainability by handling the danger of plastic pollution in a rational manner.

Read the full curriculum report here.

 

Environment Risk Analysis and Mitigation for Plastic Pollution
by Ngo Nguyen Vu, Pham Thi Hoa
International University, Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City

Case Summary
Currently, plastic products are extremely popular in many aspects of modern life. Plastic provides a durable, safe, and light material which is a better alternative to metal and other potentially toxic substances in many applications. However, the increasing demand and dependence of humanity on plastic items is generating a huge amount of plastic waste, and with this waste comes its own risk and toxic elements. In fact, many risks to human health and the environment can emerge from a plastic pollution, and reducing this threat requires reducing the use of plastic products in our day to day lives. The current state of plastic pollution and the threat it brings are alarming and require proper risk mitigation projects to tackle the challenge as soon as possible.

Read the full curriculum report here.

 

Environmental Sustainability: A Case Study
by Ritu Ahujaa, Suneel Pandeyb*

a Project Associate, Centre for Global Environment Research, Earth Science and Climate Change Division, The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi 110003
b Director and Senior Fellow, Centre for Waste Management, Environment and Waste Management Division, The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi 110003
*Corresponding author

Case Summary
This lesson plan is comprised of teaching recommendations on the Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the links between human development, sustainable development, and plastic consumption and subsequent waste generation in Indian cities. The linkage of plastic waste to marine litter and its contribution to land based pollution will be discussed. The modules will also provide successful case studies dealing with plastic waste in Indian cities. The course will be based in evaluation of students by quizzes, essays, and exams.

Read the full curriculum report here.