Bangkok, 31 August 2022 – The Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment of Thailand and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH organised the regional knowledge exchange titled “Reduce! – From More to Better – Circular Economy for Sustainable Products in Southeast Asia (SEA)”. The conference aims to encourage the debate on Product Lifetime Extension (PLE), a cornerstone of the Circular Economy. It will contribute to the development of scientifically based strategies for optimising PLE framework conditions from environmental, economic and social perspectives.
The ASEAN Vision 2020 defines the goal of a “clean and green” community of states with established mechanisms for environmental protection, sustainable use of natural resources and a high quality of life for their population. Integrating PLE in current sustainable consumption and production (SCP) policies in ASEAN offers promising contributions to its Vision 2020, as well as to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG12 specifically focuses on ensuring SCP patterns as solutions for improving natural resources use, emphasising the role of standards and consumer information to drive transformation.
In his keynote address, the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment of Thailand, Mr. Pinsak Surasawadi said: “To respond to today’s economic and environmental challenges, Thailand has adjusted its socio-economic development model to one that can capitalise on the country’s strength in biological and cultural diversity to create effective and more localised value chains for high-end products and services.”
He also introduced the Bio-Circular and Green Economy model (BCG Model), saying: “The BCG Model is Thailand’s way forward in the next decade. Especially with regard to the natural resource-based security, we are aiming at increasing resource utilisation efficiency throughout the entire value chain; systematically reducing waste production to safeguard the country’s resource base and minimise impacts on the environment; reducing resource consumption by two-thirds of the current rate; reducing waste by 16.5 million tons; as well as combatting climate change by focusing on the primary target groups of plastic, ICT products, garment or textiles industries as well as the construction sector.”
Dr. Ulf Jaekel, former head of Division of SCP and Product-related Environmental Protection of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) said in his welcoming address: “The European Green Deal and its Sustainable Product Initiative is Germany’s guiding policy. In Germany we have developed a Circular Economy Roadmap and a Circular Economy Action Plan, outlining a range of important reforms, including consolidation of consumer information tools, such as the Blue Angel eco-label, strengthening market transparency through digital passports, supporting Circular Business Models, regulatory tools such as mandatory eco-design, and many more. Ultimately our goal is to depart from More and develop Better products.”
He further illustrated some visions of the Circular Economy (CE), saying: “In the old days, a company would produce a product, sell it and that product would disappear from its responsibility. (…) Soon, they will sell you the mobility, not the car itself. The important aspect here is that the ownership of the car will remain in the company with the interest to maximise efficiency during the entire lifecycle.”
Finally, he emphasised the economic opportunities of the CE. “In a circular economy, companies can reduce their costs, and they can sell more services. The global market for sustainable products and services is estimated to be worth more than $2 trillion a year. Let us go back to the example of the car, especially critical for Germany’s manufacturing industry: hydrogen and battery production offers huge investment opportunities. Further developing circular business models for critical materials, such are rare-earths often used in such technologies, offer a wide range of business opportunities and new green jobs.”
During the Conference, the new GIZ Scaling SCP project was launched. This project is adding another stone to the long-lasting support of the German Government to Thailand, underling the 160 years friendship of the countries. Scaling SCP is implemented in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines with the objective to reduce dangerous greenhouse-gas emissions. The project focus is on developing ambitious green standards for products and services, for example for ACs and Data Centers. Such greener products will be certified by the Thai Green Label to inform consumers, and the government will procure these to support market penetration. Circular Economy product criteria play a critical role to reduce emissions from products and extend their lifetime.
This conference is a part of Scaling SCP, SCP Outreach, and the Collaborative Actions for Single-Use Plastic Prevention in Southeast Asia (CAP SEA) projects under the support of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV). These projects support 8 Countries in Southeast Asia to improve and develop Sustainable Consumption and Production policy frameworks, promote eco-labeling and Sustainable Public Procurement and to reduce single-use plastic consumption.