Renowned industry experts convened at T-Plas for the inaugural Circular Economy and Sustainable Challenges for Southeast Asian Markets seminar Wednesday 20th September to discuss the direction the plastics industry needs to take in order to achieve global sustainability and circularity goals.
Among the numerous topics of discussion and vigorous debate were emerging environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) reporting requirements. According to Raimund Klein, CEO of the International Centre for Industrial Transformation (INCIT), fragmented feedback from the public sector is inhibiting uptake of ESG reporting in ASEAN. “The Finance Ministry may say something and the Industry Ministry another thing,” he notes. At the same time, multinational companies are increasingly asking potential suppliers whether they have ESG reporting. In fact, ESG reporting is fast becoming a prerequisite for doing business, in particular with European companies.
Panelists also noted the tendency for governments to demonize plastics without consideration for the scientific facts. Dato Johnson Yoon, President of the Malaysia Plastics Association (MPMA) notes that plastics had been used for many years prior to disturbing images of marine life entangled with plastics started a trend towards plastics being considered as “no good.” Added Yoon, “All we ask is that science, data and statistics are employed to analyse the benefits, or otherwise, of plastics versus other materials. If life cycle analyses indicated plastic is not the best solution for a straw, for example, then please use a paper straw but all decisions should be based on science.”
In terms of sustainability, Stephen Moore, CEO of MLT Analytics notes that the environmental aspect is but one of three pillars that the world needs to consider when implementing sustainable practices. “We need to adopt a holistic approach of Planet, People and Profit, with social sustainability (people) enabling people to lead healthy productive, upwardly mobile lives, and economic sustainability (profit) enabling the private sector to continue invest in environmentally sustainable solutions.”