Achieving a Circular Plastics Economy through Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)


Achieving a Circular Plastics Economy through Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Regional Dialogue Series by SEA circular project
Post-event update

Bangkok, 12 September 2022

Over 100 participants from government agencies, industries, businesses, start-ups and entrepreneur communities from Bangladesh, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, and the ASEAN countries joined a regional training on Human Rights-Based Approach and a dialogue on Extended Producer Responsibility in Plastic Value Chain on August 23, 2022.

The United Nations Environment Programme’s SEA circular project in collaboration with the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) Extension organised this event as part of a Regional Dialogue Series by SEA circular. The dialogue had a two-part programme; part I covering a keynote and training session on Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA); and part II covering an engaging panel dialogue on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the plastic value chain.

In the opening remarks, Ms. Kamala Ernest, SEA circular Project Coordinator, emphasized that SEA circular focused to foster market-based solutions and enabling policies to minimize marine plastic pollution. Ms. Ernest mentioned that, SEA circular aimed to reduce plastic waste in the South-East Asia region, while human rights and gender equality are its key components.

Ms. Betty Yolanda, Director of Regional Program at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Indonesia delivered a keynote speech on Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) in the plastic value chain was. She highlighted that the microplastic and macroplastic pollution are poisoning the aquatic and agricultural existence, posing a threat to global food security, and are linked to climate change. She further emphasized, human rights-based approach that prioritizes human rights at the forefront of all policies and practices that strengthen both government and private sectors.

In Part I, Dr. Sara L. Seck from Dalhousie University, Canada, delivered the training on “Human Rights Based Approach in the Plastic Value Chain” to draw a frame for thoughts. Here are the key discussion points from this training –

  • The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) supported by the UN Human Rights Council and recognize that businesses have a duty to uphold human rights.
  • The significance of right to clean, healthy and sustainable environment which was recognized by UN Human Rights Council in 2021.
  • The importance of the plastic life span circular model and the different stages of plastic life cycles to be considered for all potential effects on human rights through all the individual stages.
  • The businesses are obligated to uphold human rights, particularly those that are impacted by environmental degradation.
  • Links between the six different substantive elements and plastics and these substantive elements are implicated in each stage of the plastics’ lifecycles.
  • As part of procedural components of the human right-based approach, how to demonstrate that organization is actively assisting in the exercise of procedural rights to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.
  • The importance of the organization’s dedication to the early assessment and prevention of effects brought on by plastics.
  • What it would require for a company to carry out its obligation to respect human rights in accordance with UNGPs, especially, through the development of a human rights policy, carrying out human rights due diligence, taking the necessary actions to ensure that rights holders have access to remedies for any negative effects on human rights caused by our business related to plastics and ensuring a gender-responsive strategy.

At the end of the training, Dr. Seck responded to audiences’ queries and comments related to the case studies she presented and the practicality of life cycle assessment as a vehicle for human rights-based approach. She mentioned that the pilot projects are being carried out in the region will help to identify the key factors influencing integration of human rights in plastic value chains. She also admitted that there may be difficulties applying life cycle approach to create norms for human rights-based practices. However, the life cycle approach helps the stakeholders to develop a clear framework for human rights analysis in the context of plastic value chains.

Please access the training materials here.

In part II, Ms. Czarina Constantino-Panopio, National Lead of No Plastics in Nature Initiative, WWF Philippines, in the keynote speech, discussed how implementing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) calls collaborate and work together on waste management, waste reduction, and obliged business. She talked about how SMES, MSMEs, and major businesses are adopting both voluntary and required EPR rules. She emphasized the importance of the EPR regulatory requirements being linked to reduction targets as well as recovery and waste management targets.

This brief keynote was followed by a panel moderated by Dr. Orathai Pongruktham, Thailand Environment Institute (TEI). The panel was composed of four key contributors: Dr. Wijarn Simachaya, President, Thailand Environment Institute (TEI), Ms. Czarina Constantino-Panopio, WWF – Philippines, Mr. Patinya Silsupadol, Deputy Secretary, General, Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), and Ms. Indah Budiani, Executive Director, Indonesia Business Council for Sustainable Development, took part in this panel discussion.

Dr. Wijarn Simachaya highlighted the need to balance the economy, development, social welfare, environmental effect, and accessible development is one of the main issues when it comes to developing and implementing policies in this discussion. He emphasized the need to create a policy that considers all relevant stakeholders and maximizes the benefits for the development of the country.

Mr. Patinya Silsupadol highlighted the present scenario of Thailand, “The fragmentation of existing activities carried out by various organizations. Ongoing project fragmentation also leads to data and baseline fragmentation for waste management. However, the private sector is facing the challenges of uncertainty of the EPR fees, the operator’s identity, and the best ways for them to use the money”.

On the other hand, Ms. Indah Budiani highlighted Indonesia’s regulations, known as National Plastic Action Partnership (NPAP), which are remarkably comparable to those of other Asian nations. She said, “It aimed to reduce waste management from the plastic packaging. She also stated that the terminology EPR is not well accepted by the producer they want to change to extended stakeholder responsibility”.

As part of the regional dialogue series, SEA circular will be organizing two more sessions in the coming months on two interesting areas related to circular economy and plastic value chain.

Please keep an eye on our event page to know more about our upcoming events.

You are invited to watch the webinar recording here.

About SEA circular project

The SEA circular project – Reducing marine litter by addressing the management of the plastic value chain in Southeast Asia is implemented by the UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA), with funding support from the Government of Sweden. SEA circular aims to reduce and prevent plastic pollution and its impact by working with governments, businesses, civil society, academia, and international partners. The initiative promotes market-based solutions and enabling policies to transform plastic value-chain management, strengthens the science base for informed decision making, creates outreach and awareness. The project leverages COBSEA’s regional mechanism to tackle the transboundary challenge of marine litter in a harmonized manner. 

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