Why do we need an island circular economy?

Island Industrial Ecology

On 23 - 24 Feb 2022, the University of Mauritius in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Regional Integration and International Trade and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Secretariat organized a two-day virtual brainstorming workshop on the theme ‘’POST COVID-19 - Sustainable Innovation to set the economy back on track’’. This virtual brainstorming workshop aimed at bringing together Government, Academia, and Industry representatives from the IORA Member States and Dialogue Partners to discuss innovative strategies adopted by the IORA Member States to cope with the pandemic and to share good country practices. The event was presided by Professor Dhanjay Jhurry, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mauritius.

Two board members of Island-IE section of ISIE, Dr. Simron Singh, professor at the University of Waterloo, Canada, and Bob Paul, Principal of E5 solutions, Canada were invited to deliver talks at the Circular Economy panel. Singh’s talk, "Why do we need an island circular economy: Insights from socio-metabolic research", used Caribbean examples illustrating a linear one-way material flow that relies heavily on imports, generates enormous amounts of waste on the island, and very little is recycled. He highlighted how such a linear system perpetuates socio-metabolic risk over time. He argued for an equitable circular metabolism of islands to build resilience, enhance resource security, and provide a high quality of island life at the lowest environmental cost. Paul’s talk “ Circular Economy, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) provided a high-level perspective on consumption of consumer products and waste which poses a significant impact to our environment at the products end-of-life. There is a need for governments to adopt progressive policies upstream such as pollution prevention planning at the production level, educate society on sustainable consumption patterns in the economy that promote more reduction and reuse while downstream policy actions support recycling of materials for the circular economy. British Columbia is a leader in EPR with 21 producer led programs, including a program for packaging. The presentation was designed to encourage IORA attendees to consider EPR for smaller island states by adopting an integrated systems approach to develop a regional framework on waste to resource recovery by producers in the region.

Other speakers in this panel included Dr. Venkatachalam Anbumozhi (Director of Research Strategy and Innovations at Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asian, Indonesia, Mr. Alain Law Min (CEO of the Mauritius Commercial Bank Ltd.), Mr. Shiv Rao Challa (founder and CEO at 3R Zero Waste PVT Co Ltd., India), and Prof. Harro Von Blottnitz (University of Cape Town, South Africa).