Ocean Plastic Turned into an Opportunity in Circular Economy (OPTOCE) is a regional project developed by SINTEF and funded by Norad. The project is a part of the Norwegian Development Programme to Combat Marine Litter and Microplastics, launched in 2018. The programme is intended to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.1 which states that by 2025, the world should prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds.

OPTOCE aims to showcase a possibility of reducing the release of plastic waste to the ocean by increasing the waste treatment capacity in selected partner countries in Asia. Non-recyclable plastic waste from for example dumpsites, rivers and plastic polluting industry, will be used as fuel in cement production, constituting a fundamental pillar in circular economy, reducing coal consumption and stopping plastic waste from reaching our oceans.

The project aims to conduct pilot demonstrations in five Asian countries with variable local pollution and preconditions. These countries have some of the biggest rivers but also significant plastic pollution challenges. The partner countries are as of now China, India, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar.

Non-recyclable plastic wastes will be energy-recovered and substitute coal in local energy intensive industry and recyclable fractions sent to recycling facilities, demonstrating a cost-efficient win-win concept. Lessons learned will be shared through a living regional multinational and multi-stakeholder forum enabling replication across the continent. OPTOCE aims to involve Governments and local authorities, private industries and sector associations, international organisations, academia and NGOs. The regional information dissemination platform aims to raise awareness and build capacity on effective plastic waste management.

Our research shows that the cement industry in our partner countries could be able to handle all of the low-quality plastic waste generated in their country – keeping it from reaching our rivers and oceans.