In 2020 UNDP launched a new call to action, the Ocean Innovation Challenge (OIC), to accelerate progress on SDG 14 (Life Below Water) targets. A call for proposals was then opened to seek innovations that are transferable, replicable and scalable. Building on their experience gained through a growing portfolio, the adelphi’s circular economy team prepared a proposal to design an extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme for plastic and packaging waste tailored to the situation in the Maldives. The project concept convinced the UNDP, and adelphi was one of the 9 proposals awarded (out of over 600 applications).
On 20th April the project team has conducted an inception workshop that showed high-level commitment from the key stakeholders.
Tackling Plastic Pollution: A Priority for the Government of the Maldives
In late April, the inception workshop brought together experts from the UNDP, adelphi, and adelphi’s local partner Zero Waste Maldives, as well as high-level representatives from the government of the Maldives. Opening remarks by the Minister of State for Environment, Dr. Abdulla Naseer, and the Foreign Relations Secretary of the President’s Office, Ms. Sabra Ibrahim Noordeen, emphasized the commitment of the Maldivian government to address the problem of plastic waste management and marine litter. They highlighted the urgency and omnipresence of the issue, delineating steps the government was already taking and stating their enthusiasm for further measures.
Representatives from the UNDP highlighted the risk plastic pollution posed to the inhabitants as well as the terrestrial and marine ecosystem of the Maldives. Andrew Hudson, Head of the UNDP’s Water & Ocean Governance Programme, pointed out that EPR schemes have been successful in improving plastic waste management in developed countries, a result the OIC hopes to replicate through projects in several countries such as the Comoro Islands, Costa Rica, and now the Maldives.
Three Outcomes: Enhancing Knowledge, Increasing Understanding, Integrating EPR into National Law
adelphi and Zero Waste Maldives then introduced the project’s timeline and key outcomes. It aims for three main goals: First of all, a solid knowledge basis is needed. To this end, the project will research the amount of plastic and plastic packaging consumed in the country, trace its flow from import through use to disposal, identify key actors and stakeholders throughout the life cycle of plastic products, and analyse the existing legal framework.
At the same time, the team will reach out to all main stakeholders to achieve their second goal, an increased understanding of the concept and practices of EPR. Producers and retailers are often sceptical of these schemes, especially if they have little or one-sided knowledge. To get them on board, the project will organise stakeholder workshops and prepare manuals, ensuring that all sides are heard and heading off misinformation. Web and social media based information campaigns will also raise awareness among the general public and show them how everyone can do their part to fight plastic pollution.
Thirdly, adelphi’s and Zero Waste Maldives’ experts will design an EPR scheme for plastic and packaging waste that can be integrated into Maldivian national law. The government has already taken first steps to reduce waste, such as banning certain single-use plastics. The project will help to develop further legislation focusing on EPR, prepare the scheme for the legislative process, and design a roadmap for implementing it.