on 19 July: How to select the Right Qualification or training to pursue career
The field of sustainability has seen a tremendous surge in interest
and attention in recent years, and as a result, numerous education programs and
“ESG certifications” are available in the market.
So, what is the right qualification or training for you to pursue
career in sustainability?
If you are considering to start your career in sustainability or if
you are already a practitioner in the field and would like to upskill but
unsure which ESG training programs might be suitable for you. Join us to learn
from seasoned and young professionals across industries on their ESG study
journeys and how various ESG training routes differ.
Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK)
European Commission’s request, the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs)
published their Progress Reports on greenwashing in the financial sector on Jun
1, 2023. The three ESAs are EBA (European Banking Authority), EIOPA (European
Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority) and ESMA (European Securities
and Markets Authority), who regulate the European banking, insurance and
capital markets sectors. The ESAs put forward their views on where they see
greenwashing occurring, including a common high-level understanding of what
they consider to be greenwashing.
The ESAs define
greenwashing “as a practice where sustainability-related statements,
declarations, actions, or communications do not clearly and fairly reflect the
underlying sustainability profile of an entity, a financial product, or
financial services. This practice may be misleading to consumers, investors, or
other market participants.” They also mention “sustainability-related
misleading claims can occur and spread either intentionally or
the ESMA progress report* provides sector-specific assessment for key sectors for
issuers, investment managers, benchmark administrator and investment service
providers, while states that misleading claims “may relate to all key aspects
of the sustainability profile of a product or an entity – from governance
aspects to sustainability strategy, targets and metrics or claims about
The report also
provides some potential remediation actions to the identified greenwashing
drivers and risks. It suggests improvement to be made in the sustainability
disclosures and the labeling scheme for financial products for retail investors.
A more robust regulatory framework and clarifications on the key concept (i.e.
transition investors) should be the key to support better integration of
sustainability impact and engagement efforts.
Last but not
least, it highlights the needs for establishing reliable and comprehensive
sustainability data, including recourse to external validation and assessment
of the ambition and creditability of sustainability commitment/pledges (such as
the Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTi), clarifications and transparency of
ESG data methodologies and minimum standards for the quality of estimates of
As for the next
steps, the ESAs will publish their final greenwashing reports in May 2024 and
will consider final recommendations, including on possible changes to the EU
Alexandra Tracy, Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK)
Single use plastic packaging globally
is expected to be a US$26 billion industry this year, with high growth
driven propelled by the spending power of the burgeoning middle class across
Asia, in particular. A study by consulting
firm Future Market Insights predicted that the market for throw
away plastic will expand by 6.1 percent in 2023, and will reach US$47
billion by 2033.
As more people move into
towns and cities, and their disposable incomes rise, Asian businesses are
rapidly utilising disposable plastics across many industries, most notably
in the ecommerce, food and beverages and healthcare sectors. The enormous popularity of online food
deliveries in major market such as India and China is a key driver of growth,
while the widespread distribution of single use plastic sachets to sell cheap products
in small quantities in less developed regions has led to increased waste and pollution
across the continent.
progress on recycling
Another depressing report
from the Minderoo Foundation, a non profit, recently found that between 2019
and 2021, global production of single use plastics was fifteen times larger
than recycled plastic production. During
that period, 6 million tonnes of single use plastics
was produced, a number that is expected to rise exponentially as fossil
fuel companies around the world increase their focus away from oil
production to petrochemicals. Meanwhile,
only 9 percent of all plastic produced globally is recycled, causing an estimated 10 million tonnes of plastic waste to end up
in the ocean every year.
underlying problem is that in most countries it is cheaper to produce virgin
plastic than to sort, clean and recycle used plastic. According to Minderoo, companies are only investing
in scaling up recycling capabilities in developed countries where there is regulation
in place that encourages demand for recycled plastics. Attracting investment
into recycling infrastructure in developing countries, where plastic pollution
is becoming acute, is much more challenging.
Private capital starting to flow to
According to the Circulate Initiative’s
Plastics Circularity Investment Tracker, US$4.1 billion was invested in plastics
circularity solutions (defined as technologies, business models or other
methods to tackle the plastic pollution challenge by eliminating, reducing or
reusing plastic, or by keeping plastic materials in circulation without
allowing them to leak into the environment) during the period between January
2018 and September 2022.
It is encouraging that downstream
solutions, especially recycling and recovery services, where capital is acutely
needed, received US$3.6 billion of that amount.
The Circulate Initiative highlights, however, that much more diverse
investment across the plastics value chain is still needed to build a circular
economy for plastics. Upstream solutions such as
materials and redesign, refill and reuse and digital mapping will also be
essential for the transition, creating opportunities for investing in
disruption and innovation.
More capital coming into Asia
vast majority of the investments identified by the Plastics Circularity
Investment Tracker, at US$3.5 billion, or 87 percent of the total, came into
Asia. Of this, US$1.6 billion in private
capital was invested in South East Asia, followed by East Asia and South Asia with US$1.1 billion and
US$678 million, respectively.
investment levels in Asia, in particular, reflects the scale of the challenge
that plastics are creating in this part of the world. According to the World Bank, Asia contributes
more than 80 percent of the plastic waste
leaking into the ocean, and emerging countries in the region are still
importing considerable amounts of waste from developed countries.
More positively, several
countries in Asia, including Japan and Korea, have implemented new regulations
to tackle the plastics waste issue, such as Extended Producer Responsibility
(EPR) requirements for packaging.
Singapore and Vietnam are currently going through this process, while the
Philippines is planning to require large corporations to recover 80 percent of
plastic packaging by 2028. Over time,
these moves will help to mobilise additional capital into these countries.
Companies doing better
Some companies in Asia are already
making a name for themselves as leading in efforts to do better on plastic
waste. Minderoo’s recent report
identified two companies, Far Eastern New Century in Taiwan and Thailand
headquartered Indorama Ventures, that are currently producing recycled polymers
at scale. Indorama has been particularly active in expanding its polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
bottle to bottle recycling facilities, supported by financing from the
International Finance Corporation and the Asian Development Bank among others.
In the venture funding space, Circulate
Capital in Singapore, backed by a number of large multinational retail brands,
has for several years been putting capital into start ups in South and South
East Asia that are creating alternative solutions to plastic waste. For example, investee company Lucro Plastecycle, in Bombay, converts low
value flexible plastic such as shrink wrap into plastic granules that are sold to manufacturers
in India. Another portfolio company, Jakarta
headquartered Tridi Oasis, turns PET bottles into plastic flakes which are
used to make packaging and textiles in Indonesia.