Informal round table: Material substitutes to single-use plastics in developing countries


07 December 2021
14:00 - 15:30 hrs. CET / Geneva
Virtual (Zoom)

Plastics are ubiquitous in modern life due to their use in a diversity of products, ranging from fast-moving consumer goods, durable products, construction materials, vehicles, clothing, packaging for food and beverages, and various others. The exponential usage of plastics over the last century, however, now presents a double-edged sword for the global society – though it has many beneficial applications, the negative environmental impact of plastic pollution and its accumulation in nature, especially in the world’s oceans, poses significant risks to human and environmental health, as well as a drag for economic development. Though attempts to address plastic pollution has increasingly gained prominence, most efforts have so far focused on post-consumption or end-of-life solutions, especially in developing countries.  

Nonetheless, there is a concerted push to also explore up and/or midstream solutions that facilitate the substitution of plastics for other, potentially more sustainable feedstocks and end-use products which can perform similar functions. This informal roundtable will discuss opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, particularly natural fibres, to assess the viability of alternative feedstocks and end-use products. 

The roundtable is jointly organized by UNCTAD Circular and Oceans Economy programmes, together with the Forum on Trade, Environment, and the SDGs (TESS). By bringing together stakeholders across various sectors and geographies engaged in the plastics challenge, the event will also preview findings from an upcoming report focused on material substitutes for sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, which explored trade aspects of material transition in countries such as Bangladesh, Kenya and Nigeria. 

Topics to be addressed include: 

  • Market and trade-related trends for plastic substitutes with an emphasis on natural fibres of export interest to developing countries 
  • Main tariff and non-tariff measures affecting market access for select plastic substitutes 
  • Short, medium, and long-term trade policy initiatives that could be pursued to support the scale-up of plastic substitutes, as well as some additional considerations for policymakers as catalysts for trade-led action 
  • Knowledge gaps that might need to be addressed in future to constructively inform policymaking initiatives on plastic substitutes 

This virtual event is open to the public and is part of the Sustainable Manufacturing and Environmental Pollution Programme,  supported by the UK-FCDO

 

Programme

14:00  Panel 1: Trade tools for a material transition
Moderator: Ms. Carolyn Deere Birkbeck, Director, Forum on Trade, Environment & the SDGs (TESS)
Presenter: Mr. Mahesh Sugathan, Senior Policy Advisor, Forum on Trade, Environment & the SDGs (TESS)

Commentators 
Ms. Daniela Garcia, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the UN, WTO in Geneva 
Ms. Alice Tipping, Lead, Sustainable Trade and Fisheries, IISD
Mr. Arpit Bhutani, COO, Circular Innovation Lab & Managing Partner, Hind Agro Sales (packaging division), India

14:45  Panel 2: Promoting competitive and manageable material substitutes in developing countries
Moderator: Mr. David Vivas Eugui, Legal Officer, UNCTAD
Presenter: Mr. Henrique Pacini, Economic Affairs Officer, UNCTAD

Commentators 
Mr. Devabrata Chakraborty, Counsellor (Commercial Affairs), Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the WTO in Geneva
Mr. Joel Richards, Senior Technical Specialist, Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)
Mr. Terry McCormack, Consultant, Sustainable Manufacturing and Environmental Pollution (SMEP) Programme
 

15:30  Closing remarks
 

Watch event recording

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Co-organizer(s):
TESS
Sponsor / funding:
UK-FCDO

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