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.

Pilot demonstrations planned as of April 2020:

  • Zigui, China: small town on the bank of the Yangtze river. The aim of the pilot demonstration is to investigate and showcase the benefits of collecting waste and floating material from the Yangtze river and use it as fuel in a local cement plant.
  • Jilin, China: city in China’s north east, on the bank of the Songhua river. The aim of the pilot demonstration is to investigate the benefits of using non-recyclable plastic waste (NRPW) from paper recycling and landfill mining as fuel in the local cement plant.
  • Haridwar and Agra, India: places of tourism and religious importance. OPTOCE aims to investigate and showcase the benefits of using segregated combustible fraction/NRPW in cement kilns as part of an integrated local waste management strategy.
  • Delhi and Goa, India: pilot demonstrations and desk-top study focusing on performance evaluation of treating NRPW in cement plants compared to proposed/existing waste-to-energy facilities.
  • Myanmar: currently no co-processing in the cement industry, OPTOCE aims to raise awareness and build capacity, and conducting a possible pilot demonstration in 2021.
  • Bangkok, Thailand: most plastic waste ends up in dumpsites and landfills. Dumpsite redemption and landfill mining are efficient ways to produce refuse derived fuel to substitute coal in cement production and reduce leakage of plastic waste from dumpsites to environment, rivers and oceans. The objective in Thailand is to demonstrate and evaluate this practice.
  • Can Tho, Vietnam: the pilot demonstration will investigate how NRPW from the paper recycling industry can be used in co-processing (factory located by the Mekong river). An estimated 110 000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated from Vietnam’s paper industry yearly – currently dumped and non-recyclable.
  • Binh Duong, Vietnam: UNDP will implement a Norwegian government funded project called ‘Plastic waste management in scaling up a socialised model of domestic waste and plastics management in five cities of Vietnam’. The project aims to improve collection and treatment methods in the five cities, before the results are lifted to a national level. OPTOCE will cooperate with UNDP in the project, investigating how co-processing can be one of the treatment options for the non-recyclable fraction of the segregated waste.