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Closing the Loop


Project History

The Closing the Loop journey began in 2017 with pilot projects in Pune, India and Bangkok, Thailand. ESCAP in collaboration with Stockholm Environment Institute, WEIGO and other stakeholders aimed to generate new evidence on the role of the informal sector within the plastic waste value chain. The informal sector is a vital component of the waste management sector in Southeast Asia, contributing to collection, sorting, recycling and waste transfer, and in most cases at no cost to local municipal authorities. To create a more inclusive waste sector Closing the Loop developed 3 key outputs to analyse the waste challenges and opportunities found at the interface of informal and formal waste sector activities.

The Closing the Loop: Regional Policy Guide brings together city-specific findings as well as experiences from across the Asia-Pacific region generating policy recommendations and identifying opportunities to foster a more circular waste management system and the potential economic, social and environmental benefits. The guide assesses existing measures and their impact as well as highlighting areas that require further research and development.  Overall, the project helped the region find sustainable pathways to improve waste management activities within their cities and improving the livelihood and  working conditions of those involved in reducing plastic waste leakage.

The Closing the Loop Regional Policy Guide

Sai Mai District Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand is one of the top five global contributors to marine plastic waste pollution. Driven by improper waste management infrastructure and management practices and limited public awareness of their role in contributing to plastic waste. In the country’s large and growing capital, Bangkok, the situation has become increasingly problematic.

This case study explores the plastic waste value chain in Bangkok to better understand the roles involved in plastic waste management and how they interact.

The insights from this study will help determine a range of policy measures that work to enhance the contributions of all levels of waste collection and improve the environmental and economic benefits of an integrated plastic waste management system.

The study in centred on plastic waste management in the Sai Mai District in Bangkok metropolitan area. Sai Mai is one of three waste collection and transportation systems run by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).

The Closing the Loop Regional Policy Guide - Sai Mai District Case Study 01
The Closing the Loop Regional Policy Guide - Sai Mai District Case Study 02

Pune, India

Management of recyclable waste in Pune, India follows a hybrid model involving informal workers and is widely considered a success story. One important factor in understanding this achievement is the city’s history of informal workers’ rights movements and civil society participation.

This case study traces plastic waste movement in the city of Pune and identifies the contributions by the informal economy workers to the recovery, sorting and recycling of plastic waste. It also provides policy insights that aim to harness the environmental benefits of a more inclusive and productive waste management strategy.

The experience of the Pune model shows the value of the informal waste worker in recovering and reusing plastic waste and the relationship between these workers and the city can have a positive economic, social and environment impact. This model is largely workforce based and undertakes recycling activities at a much lower cost and produces higher recycling levels than conventional or formal mechanized and centralized waste management approaches.

The Closing the Loop Regional Policy Guide - Pune Case Study 01
The Closing the Loop Regional Policy Guide - Pune Case Study 02
The Closing the Loop Regional Policy Guide - Pune Case Study 03