Duer said AEPW's target of leveraging five times its investment over five years is "very ambitious target" but argues that it's not necessarily money that's scarce, but evidence of projects with good track records for other investors.
"Resources, we believe, may not be the limitations; it's the ability to have the right solutions that can be scaled," Duer said. "Looking at what all the investors out there are investing, and if we are looking at that as a package, then I honestly believe we can make a significant dent into this problem."
He said the alliance is focused on waste management because it's the weakest link right now in controlling plastic waste getting into the environment. Other areas, like recycled content to create demand and product design, are part of the alliance's work but the focus is on waste management.
"Three billion people do not have access to waste collection," he said. "That waste will automatically end up unfortunately in the environment. So we need to have a focus on that."
Duer said the project has met its targets to this point, even with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The group's Sept. 2 report details several programs that have been slowed by the pandemic, but he said AEPW sees that its work is more important than ever in the health crisis, as waste volumes grow.
Some places in Thailand, for example, have seen a sixfold increase in waste generated during COVID-19, whether from single-use packaging, personal protective equipment or other factors, he said.
"There's an even bigger urgency in COVID," he said. "In countries where you don't have proper waste management systems in place, either because they're nonexistent or because they're broken, simply more waste accumulates in the environment, including plastic waste."
For the next year, the group wants to double the number of projects it is working on from 14 to 28, he said.
"We will be expanding our geographic scope, while our focus will continue to be on Asia, where the majority of the leakage is happening, we will also be increasing investments in Europe, in North America, in Latin America and Africa," he said.
The group's 36-page report gave details on several projects, including:
• Project STOP in Jembrana, Indonesia, to create that city's first solid waste management and recycling system that aims to collect 20,000 metric tons of waste a year from its 150,000 people. It started a test this year and hopes to have full deployment next year.
• In Africa, it started providing direct support to the Asese Foundation in Accra, Ghana, earlier this year, as that group builds plastic recycling plants that will take waste collected by residents. AEPW said Asese started operating its first plant last year, and the effort in particular is designed to help women start businesses.
• In India and Vietnam, AEPW is working with the Grameen Creative Labs, co-founded by Nobel Peace laureate Mohammed Yunus, to develop what it calls "zero plastic waste cities" in Puducherry, India, and Tan An, Vietnam. The effort also aims to develop sustainable local businesses and turn the waste into things like flowerpots and plastic boards, AEPW said.
• Elsewhere in India, it is working with the German development bank GIZ to fund Ganges River waste management projects and with the group Renew Oceans on a pilot pyrolysis plant to turn waste into fuel.
Beyond specific projects, AEPW is also helping to fund several projects to help startup companies and organizations launch technology or programs.
For example, it developed a program, with the startup platform Plug and Play, for incubation centers in Silicon Valley, Paris and Singapore. More than 1,000 groups applied for funding for the first slots in a 12-week program designed to help them attract other funding and get mentored by panels organized by the Alliance.
It plans additional innovation hubs with Plug and Play in Asia, Africa and Latin America in 2021.
As well, AEPW said its members Berry Global Group, LyondellBasell Industries and Milliken & Co. are working on secondary sorting systems for collecting recyclables, and others in the group, including CP Chemical, Dow Inc., PepsiCo Inc. and P&G, are investors in funds with Circulate Capital to finance waste collection throughout Asia.