Colombia is ranked among the top 20 most polluting rivers in the world, due to the high levels of plastic material in the Amazon and Magdalena rivers. The latter is affected by its proximity to major cities such as Bogotá and Medellín, and its highly interconnected water basin.
This is why the European Union, in alliance with projects funded by its Member States, seeks to engage with strategic partners in different countries to minimise the deterioration of the global environment through sustainable solutions over time. The European Union is currently leading the transition towards the plastics of the future, with a long-term vision of a circular economy based on innovation and new habits of use and management in Latin America. This is done through its Circular Plastics Programme in the Americas (CPAP) initiative, which integrates local partners in Bogotá, Medellín and at regional level to open spaces for dialogue on this issue and seek viable solutions.
In Colombia, the Programme is led and financed by the EU Delegation in Colombia, with technical support from GFA Consulting Group GmbH (Germany), NIRAS A/S and CLEAN (both from Denmark), in alliance with local facilitators such as the Metropolitan Area of the Aburrá Valley (AMVA) for Medellín, and the Mayor’s Office of Bogotá for the country’s capital.
The Circular Plastics in the Americas Programme consists of three phases, including workshops in the cities of Medellín and Bogotá with intersectoral dialogue tables around co-creation and circular innovation towards the sustainable production, use and management of plastics.
This series of workshops, called “Co-creating solutions to move towards the circularity of plastics”, has involved the participation of various actors from the private sector, the public sector, academia and NGOs in working sessions on the topics prioritised for discussion: single-use plastics, sustainable packaging, prevention of river and marine litter, biomass and alternative materials and advanced recycling technologies.
In the first meetings, the challenges for Colombia in terms of plastic circularity were discussed in detail, through statistics and findings that provided attendees with a context of plastic use. For the second phase, the participants analysed the Colombian panorama and identified the problems in each of the cities, based on the challenges and existing initiatives by priority sectors, formulating ideas for innovative solutions for circular plastics.
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As part of the third phase of the circular innovation process, two workshops entitled “Development of solutions to city challenges to promote the circularity of plastics in Medellín, Metropolitan Area of the Aburrá Valley and Bogotá” were held on 29 November in Bogotá and 1 December in Medellín. These were spaces where business models containing new advanced recycling technologies, new materials and composites, and the application of eco-design were put on the table.
The working tables were accompanied by a delegation from the European Union, made up of 12 companies: Smart Waste Portugal, Packaging Cluster, Everwave GmbH, Aimplas, Plastix, Kleenhub, Pond, Prewaste, Consumer Goods Forum, the Ocean Clean Up, Plastic Smart Waste Cities (WWF Initiative) and Jeronimo Martens-ARA. These were also attended by key actors from Bogotá and the Metropolitan Area of the Aburrá Valley: private companies, public sector, academia, NGOs and relevant representatives of the plastics value chain, who prioritised the pilots that promote the circularity of plastics in each city.
Nowadays, the circular economy is one of the most promising systemic change strategies for achieving sustainable development and increasingly important for international cooperation in the world. This is why the Pilot Plan will implement solutions inspired by circular economy principles in the transition to the plastics of the future, benefiting marine ecosystems and influencing a better quality of life for people.
More information about CPAP: Press release – EU Delegation in Colombia