How to stop plastics from finding their way into the ocean?

The project ’Rethinking Plastics – Circular Economy Solutions to Marine Litter’ is now working on solutions together with seven countries in East and South East Asia. The project supports a transition towards a circular economy for plastics to reduce plastic waste leakage into the sea. Its activities and pilot projects cover the management of plastic waste, sustainable consumption and production of plastic as well as the reduction of litter from sea-based sources.

More than 20 pilot projects in China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam will test new approaches or up-scale best practices. Knowledge exchange is fostered, for example, through policy dialogues, workshops and conferences, webinars and communication campaigns.

More information

Our latest activities and publications:

In July and September, the project organised two regional webinars to exchange and learn about experiences and best practices on the following topics:

Learn more about the “Rethinking Plastics” pilot projects with the overview of our pilot projects.


Several online exchanges and webinars organised or supported by the project took place in Indonesia, which can be accessed online as follows:


Amongst other activities, the project published a ‘Policy Brief on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Packaging Waste in Vietnam’ for decision-makers to address the key principles and share international experiences on EPR mechanisms and legal frameworks. The Policy Brief was developed in the framework of the cooperation with the Department of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) in Vietnam.

Download the Policy Brief here in English or Vietnamese.

Institutional and operational actors can also enhance their knowledge about EPR for packaging with the EPR Toolbox in Vietnamese. It contains detailed training materials on EPR, practical country examples and a set of FAQs.

Download the EPR Toolbox in Vietnamese here

Marine litter
a growing
global challenge

Driven by rapid urbanisation, economic development and changing consumption and production patterns, the amount of single-use packaging is rapidly increasing worldwide. At the same time, waste management systems still lack effectiveness in terms of environmentally sound collection, sorting, recycling, energy recovery and disposal of packaging waste.

These trends significantly contribute to marine littering – a growing global threat to marine ecosystems and fisheries, as well as the tourism sector. Marine litter including abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear, affects over 800 species in marine and coastal environments. About 60 to 90% of marine litter consists of plastics, of which much comes from single-use plastic products and packaging.

East and Southeast Asia belong to the major hotspot regions worldwide for plastic waste leakage into the ocean and its potential impacts on biodiversity. Asia accounted for about 50% of global plastics production in 2017, with China alone producing around 29% of the world's plastic. The European Union accounted for about 18.5% of global plastic production. Separate collection and recycling of plastic waste has been increasing over the last decades within the EU. Parts of the EU’s plastic waste have however been exported to East and Southeast Asian countries.

Governments, businesses, academia and civil society increasingly recognise that a switch towards a circular economy approach to plastic waste is necessary to tackle these challenges.
Strengthened cooperation between the EU and partner countries in East and Southeast Asia thus provides mutual opportunities.

A Circular
Economy for

Partner countries

China, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam


May 2019 to April 2022


10 million EUR

Commissioned by

European Union (EU), German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Implemented by

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Expertise France (EF)

Areas of Action

Enhancing the basis for policy dialogues between the EU, regional organisations and partner countries in East and Southeast Asia concerning plastic production and management, e.g. in the areas of environment, fisheries and industry


Implementing activities on managing plastic waste, including extended producer responsibility and deposit return schemes for packaging and plastic products, following the waste hierarchy.


Implementing activities for sustainable consumption and production of plastic, including design for reuse and recyclability, standards for plastic recyclates as well as alternatives to plastics and the use of microplastics in products.


Enhancing efforts for the reduction of litter from sea-based sources, including port reception facilities for waste from ships, fishing-for-litter schemes, marine litter from aquaculture and fishing gear


Strengthening green procurement policies, processes and cooperation


Increasing awareness of public authorities and citizens about sustainable consumption and production of plastic and the impacts of littering on the environment


Circular Economy and Plastic Reduction – Strategies by the European Union

The project is closely linked to relevant strategies and developments in the areas of Circular Economy and Plastic Reduction in the European Union and Germany. Respective strategies and directives include, amongst others, the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, the Single-use Plastics Directive as well as the new Circular Economy Action Plan as one of the main blocks of the European Green Deal.

Press Release

Bangkok, 13 November 2019. Seven countries in East and Southeast Asia, including Thailand, the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Government will strengthen their cooperation to reduce plastic waste and marine litter... Read more

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