Implementation Of Innovations To Combat Plastic Pollution In Brunei

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According to Geyer, Jambeck and Law (2017), synthetic plastic was first used in the early 20th century in the military, however, the use of plastics by general society did not commence until post World War II. Since then the use of plastics has increased drastically in packaging, biomedicine, telecommunication and transportation, and is causing resulting in numerous environmental issues. Efforts in Brunei have involved the ‘No Plastic Bag Every Day’ initiative to eliminate use of plastic bags in certain shopping complexes by 2019, which over fifty stores are involved. Even so, Brunei must be more proactive in combating plastic pollution by implementing innovations of other nations such as Indonesia in substituting plastics with eco-friendly bioplastics made from seaweed, Germany by implementing a container-deposit legislation similar to the Pfand system, and Japan by using Blest Machines to convert plastic waste into reusable crude oil.

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Firstly, small businesses in Indonesia have replaced plastics with seaweed bioplastics which can be advantageously implemented in marketplaces in Brunei, while seaweed cultivation is highly probable owing to Brunei’s geographical suitability. Currently one of the most prominent seaweed bioplastic companies in Indonesia, Evoware, manufactures seaweed-based packaging for small objects such as cups, straws and takeaway bags. Bruneian marketplaces can benefit significantly because the businesses there are particularly reliant on small-format packaging. The Department of Environments, Parks and Recreations (n. d. ) claims that discarded plastic packaging and goods are the primary source of civil waste in the city region, which emphasizes the importance of the bioplastic initiative. This initiative also coincides directly with one of the top government agendas, “Wawasan 2035”, in ensuring “continuous protection of the environment”. Therefore the use of bioplastics in marketplaces will not only aid plastic conservation but also coincide with the nation’s overall plans. Meanwhile, the geographical feasibility of Brunei in seaweed cultivation is suggested by Critchley, Gerung, Hurtado and Yasir (2013), who claim that Brunei resides in the Coral Triangle where seaweed grows abundantly. As Brunei’s SME sector is a top priority on the government policies at the time, locals can take advantage of the seaweed cultivation sector for both economic growth and environmental preservation. In summary, seaweed bioplastics can replace plastics used in marketplaces while cultivation of seaweed is sustainable as a result of Brunei’s location.

In addition, Germany employs a system known as the Pfand system that may be beneficial in reducing the demand for recycling centers in Brunei, whereas the implementation is feasible due to Brunei’s small population. The Pfand system necessitates a deposit from customers which is reimbursed when consumers return the plastic bottles, which can be done through recycling machines in supermarkets. Ventures of the beverage industry can reprocess the recycled bottles for further use. The system, if implemented according to Brunei’s geographical scale, may ease the heavy workload on ten of the only recycling centres in the country. Xinhua (2016) claims that Brunei needs more recycling centers to help achieve the nation’s goal of a 15 percent recycling rate by 2020. The Pfand system thus represents an alternative that may reduce the nation’s overall plastic pollution issue. In addition, the government of Brunei does not need to invest in large quantities of recycling machines because of the country’s small population. For instance, installing one machine per major shopping complex throughout the country may be sufficient to boost plastic recycling rates. Thus, the Pfand system may be advantageous in reducing plastic pollution while the country’s small size suggests the viability of its implementation. Lastly, the use of Blest Machines in Japan which converts plastics into oil can be advantageous in Brunei because of its accessibility and economic appeal, while it is feasible because there are sufficient industry experts to operate the machines. A survey done by Yong (2018) claims that Bruneians are behaviorally less inclined to recycle plastic products in public spaces due to the lack of proper waste disposal equipment. The small size of Blest Machines makes it a convenient alternative to regular recycling bins. Meanwhile, the oil can be used in motor vehicles or sold to government companies, thus making it an economically attractive solution to the plastic pollution issue. Furthermore, there is a financial incentive to use the machine as the oil that is collected can be sold to government companies. In addition, once patented, it is feasible to manufacture Blest Machines in Brunei as a result of the high number of skilled workers, either locals or immigrants, who work in the machinery sector; according to OECD (2014), 38. 3 percent of the nation’s total population are categorized under “services and agricultural workers, craftsmen and plant machine operators”, which suggests that a strong workforce is already available to install and maintain Blest Machines. To summarize, Blest Machines can be effectively implemented in Brunei as a result of its portability and financial benefits, whereas the manufacture of the machines can be handled by the relevant industry professionals.

In conclusion, Brunei may combat the problems caused by plastic pollution by substituting plastic with seaweed bioplastics, implementing a container-deposit legislation, and manufacturing Blest Machines. Seaweed bioplastics provide an environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic waste in marketplaces and its manufacture is viable owing to Brunei’s geographical location; a scheme similar to the Pfand scheme may be advantageous in decreasing the workload of local recycling centers and its implementation possible on account of Brunei’s small population; Blest Machines may make plastic recycling more attractive and their manufacture can be supported by the current availability of industry workers. Ultimately, by considering the methods discussed above, Brunei might be able to counter plastic pollution while receiving a myriad of benefits both from economic and environmental standpoints.

18 May 2020

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