ASEAN recognizes the need for a new economic approach to achieve long-term economic resilience amidst global challenges like climate change and resource depletion. This approach focuses not only on traditional economic processes of extraction, production, consumption, and disposal but also emphasizes more efficient resource utilization. Hence, the circular economy model becomes crucial, as it aims to restore, regenerate, and effectively utilize materials and energy.
The circular economy is an economic system designed to promote economic growth while preserving the value of products, materials, and resources within the economy for as long as possible, minimizing social and environmental damage caused by the linear economic approach (take-make-waste) (MacArthur, 2015). To support the implementation of the circular economy, ASEAN needs to create an ecosystem conducive to circular products and services. This includes prioritizing (1) standard harmonization and mutual recognition agreements for circular products and services, (2) trade openness and circular trade facilitation, (3) technology utilization in greening supply chains (Innovation, Digitization, Green Technology), (4) access to sustainable and environmentally friendly project financing, and (5) efficient use of energy and other resources (ASEAN, 2021).
ASEAN has committed to transitioning to a circular economy, supported by various national-level initiatives in several ASEAN member countries. Indonesia has set targets to reduce marine waste by 70% by 2025 and to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 29% by 2030 (Switch Asia, n.d.). Indonesia has also issued various policies to support the implementation of the circular economy, including Presidential Regulation No. 97 of 2017 concerning the National Policy and Strategy for Household Waste Management and Similar Household Waste (KEMENHUB, 2019).
In addition to Indonesia, several ASEAN countries have successfully implemented the circular economy domestically. Singapore has set a master plan target to become a zero-waste nation by 2030. Singapore has implemented the circular economy through various initiatives, including the development of comprehensive recycling programs for construction waste, food waste, packaging waste, and electronic waste (Teo, 2020).
Malaysia has set a target to reduce waste sent to landfills by 30% by 2025. Malaysia implements the circular economy with various initiatives, including the implementation of a paid plastic bag policy since 2017, which has successfully reduced the use of single-use plastic bags. Malaysia also has a comprehensive recycling program, with the recycling rate reaching 28.1% in 2019 and predicted to reach 40% by 2025 (MIDA, 2021).
Thailand has set a target to reduce waste sent to landfills by 50% by 2030. The Thai government has issued various policies and efforts to support the implementation of the circular economy. Thailand has a comprehensive food donation program, which helps reduce food waste. Thailand also promotes food waste reduction through various initiatives, such as community awareness campaigns and educational programs. Additionally, Thailand is developing technology for recycling agricultural waste, such as plant and animal waste. Thailand has successfully reduced the amount of food waste by 30% since 2018.
Vietnam has set a target to reduce waste sent to landfills by 50% by 2030. Vietnam has successfully implemented the circular economy through various initiatives, including community awareness campaigns to increase public awareness and understanding of the circular economy. The country has a comprehensive plastic recycling program, which helps reduce the amount of plastic waste in the ocean. Vietnam is also developing technology for recycling agricultural waste, such as plant and animal waste. Vietnam has successfully reduced the amount of plastic waste in the ocean by 20% since 2019.
These ASEAN countries have successfully reduced the amount of waste sent to landfills, plastic waste, and food waste. The circular economy can enhance resource efficiency, thereby reducing production costs and increasing competitiveness. It can create new jobs in recycling, repair, and sustainable design. The circular economy can also help protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, and waste. Furthermore, it can improve the quality of life for communities. By implementing appropriate strategies, ASEAN countries can realize an effective and sustainable circular economy.
Strategies that Indonesia can learn from and adopt to implement the circular economy more efficiently include the need for the government to create a policy framework that supports the implementation of the circular economy. This framework may encompass regulations, incentives, funding, and sustainable maintenance to ensure the success of these policies. Both the government and private economic actors need to invest in technology and innovation to implement the circular economy, thereby reducing waste and improving resource efficiency in Indonesia’s economic cycle. The public needs to increase awareness and understanding of the circular economy. Individuals can play a role in implementing the circular economy by reducing consumption, using sustainable products, and sorting waste.
Indonesia has significant opportunities and challenges in achieving its targets in the transition to a circular economy. On the opportunity side, the Indonesian government has committed to implementing the circular economy, supported by various regulations, including Presidential Regulation No. 97 of 2017 concerning the National Policy and Strategy for Household Waste Management and Similar Household Waste. Indonesia has the potential for a circular economy that can provide significant economic benefits, including increased resource efficiency, the creation of new jobs, and improved competitiveness. Indonesia has a dynamic and innovative society. Indonesian society has the potential to play a role in the implementation of the circular economy, both from the consumer side, business actors, and the government. The circular economy also has the potential to help protect the environment and improve the quality of life for the population.
However, Indonesia faces challenges, as it still has limited infrastructure to support the implementation of the circular economy. Indonesia needs to enhance recycling infrastructure capacity, efficient waste collection systems, and waste processing and treatment centers. Indonesia still requires research and technology development to support the implementation of the circular economy, such as plastic and agricultural waste recycling technologies. Additionally, Indonesia needs to increase public awareness and understanding of the circular economy. Indonesia needs to conduct campaigns and education to raise awareness and understanding of the circular economy. To overcome these challenges and achieve its targets in the transition to a circular economy, Indonesia needs to implement appropriate strategies that can be adopted from the steps taken by ASEAN countries that have proven to be successful in implementing the concept of the circular economy at the national level.