Circular Economy

Circular economy projects help Asia to drive sustainable growth

As Asian countries face a future of ever-more waste being generated, support for a shift to a more circular economy has been growing in a bid to drive sustainable growth for its nations.

Support for this transition has been growing since the World Economic Forum (WEF) undertook a multi-year collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation under the Project Mainstream – a CEO-led initiative that helps to scale business innovations related to the circular economy – to accelerate the transition.

The Global Leadership Group currently includes over 40 CEOs, ministers and heads of international organisations committed to leading a portfolio of projects and activities. Focus areas include plastics, electronics food and bioeconomy, the business model and market transformation across China, Asean, Europe and Africa.

Building on the work of the WEF and the MacArthur Foundation, the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) was launched in 2017 as a public-private collaboration.

PACE is co-chaired by the CEO of Philips and the heads of the Global Environment Facility and UN Environment, along with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the International Resource Panel, Circle Economy and Accenture Strategy as knowledge partners. The WEF hosts and facilitates the Platform.

In recent years, more businesses across Asia have been increasingly discarding the decades-old model in favour of the circular economy. According to a recent report by Eco-Business Magazine, this approach has the potential to spur a new industrial revolution.

Some of these initiatives in the region include used coffee grounds collected from Starbucks cafes in Thailand, which are turned into t-shirts, socks and soaps by Taiwanese firm Singtex; lighting company Philips giving office landlords in Singapore free lights in return for a share of the energy saved; and discarded fishing nets in the Philippines are sold by local communities to carpet maker Interface to make fresh carpet tiles.

In Thailand, Magnolia Quality Development Corporation (MQDC) has collaboration with PTT Global Chemical (GC) to develop upcycled building materials from plastic waste. The materials were used in the construction of MQDC’s residential projects.

The first project features construction of a 5km network of footpaths that will take at least 160 tonnes of plastic waste. The plastic is being provided by GC, which collects it from the sea. The company’s Research & Innovation for Sustainability Centre (RISC) will carry out R&D into the use of other materials in infrastructure at its projects.