Oceans Plastics & Sustainability Turning Back the Tide Against
Ocean-Bound Plastic Waste

The Challenge

An estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans every year, an amount that is expected to grow over the next decade if nothing is done. Addressing this problem, however, needs to involve much more than simply shutting down ocean dumping, as approximately 80 percent of marine debris originates from landfills. Effective solutions will require action across a multifaceted array of stakeholders to help developing countries eliminate the flow of trash from land to sea through innovative policy frameworks and financing mechanisms that will improve their waste management practices and infrastructure.


Why CMI?

The ocean plastics crisis is one of the gravest environmental challenges facing society. However, it can be solved. To mount a response, a broad-based international coalition of companies, environmental organizations and others sought an experienced partner to help get ministers and heads of state from the Asia-Pacific region to prioritize the issue, as well as to convene a diverse group of stakeholders to drive collective action and incentivize financing for solid waste infrastructure projects. The coalition turned to C&M International for our policy expertise on a broad range of sustainability matters, as well as our deep experience advancing outcomes in the multilateral forums where this debate would take place.  

What We Did

Focusing initially on countries in Southeast Asia, CMI helped advance a public-private approach to ensure that solutions to marine litter are holistic, scalable, effective, and sustainable. By generating action at the highest levels of international policy making and multilateral forums on trade and economic development – and with a broad spectrum of voices – we worked to develop and advance solutions to one of the signature global environmental issues of the era. CMI’s efforts helped catalyze commitments from political leaders and advance national political and regulatory frameworks to enhance the policy environment for waste management infrastructure development. This led the way toward greater sharing of information on new financing mechanisms and helped advance the development of national strategies to address marine litter and waste management challenges. CMI’s work included:

  • Engaging mayors in large cities across Southeast Asia to identify the challenges they face in developing sustainable waste management systems.
  • Working with our clients to develop a set of policy and practice recommendations on overcoming barriers to financing waste management systems – recommendations that were ultimately endorsed by APEC Ministers.
  • Collaborating to develop a pipeline of bankable waste management infrastructure projects with the APEC Finance Ministers Process through its Asia-Pacific Infrastructure Partnership (APIP) and the Asia-Pacific Financial Forum (APFF) initiatives, and presenting this work to APEC Finance Ministers, Deputies and Central Bank Governors.
  • Working with our clients to support their engagement in key multilateral forums, including APEC, the East Asia Summit, the G20, and the UN Environment Programme, and organizing high-level meetings, workshops, and webinars to advance policy priorities and develop new partnerships.

The Outcome

CMI brought the ocean plastics issue to the ministerial and head of state level in the Asia-Pacific region.  Our efforts helped bring the cause to a new level of urgency and action among policy makers and financing institutions to improve the political, economic, and legal/regulatory conditions in high waste-leakage countries to develop and improve land-based waste management systems. As a result, laws regarding foreign investment in waste management systems are being revised, definitions for key terms in waste management and recycling are being clarified, additional resources are being allocated, better informed national plans are being developed, and new partnerships are being formed to reduce the amount of trash ending up in the ocean.