The Role of Packaging Regulations and Standards in Driving the Circular Economy

In order to drive a circular economy, it is critical to move away from policies and standards that support a linear economy – and to implement policies and standards that enable a circular economy.   

This report is the first comprehensive look at policies on packaging waste and standards in the 10 countries in Southeast Asia.  


The report identifies the role that policy interventions play in addressing the growing environmental challenges posed by packaging and packaging waste; explores the regulatory landscape in each of the ten Southeast Asian countries countries compared to policies elsewhere, such as the EU and Japan; provides a gap analysis in light of the global policies and the efforts to address the issue of packaging waste; and provides recommendations for ASEAN countries.

This report finds that:


Harmonized, pan-ASEAN policies would be a benefit to countries in tackling the plastic pollution problem. Countries would benefit from shared technology hubs in the ASEAN region for recycling and monitoring of the trade in plastic waste.
The presence of national targets, an overarching life cycle approach to packaging, and adopting policies that emphasize solutions that target the root cause of the problem allows packaging waste to be sustainably managed.

Trouble downloading?

Please contact us at

“Southeast Asia is a primary source and victim of plastic, where it is choking seas and threatening ecosystems and livelihoods. If we want to solve the marine litter problem globally, we have to solve it in this region”


–  Kakuko Nagatani-Yoshida,

UNEP’s Regional Coordinator for Chemicals and Waste.

Key Visuals



GA Circular

GA Circular is a research and strategy firm specialising in circular economy, recycling and waste management. GA Circular’s mission is to create a world without waste by driving the transition to a circular economy in Asia. GA Circular collaborates with companies, government, international foundations, investors and multilateral agencies to unlock business opportunities from fast-growing streams of food and packaging waste across Asia.


Established in 2011, GA Circular is a B Corporation certified social business. GA Circular is headquartered in Singapore and operates throughout Southeast Asia and Southwest Asia.


UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.



The Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA) is a regional intergovernmental mechanism and one of 18 Regional Seas programmes. It is the decision-making body for the East Asian Seas Action Plan, bringing together nine countries – Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam – in protection and sustainable development of the marine and coastal environment in the East Asian Seas region.


SEA circular

SEA circular is an initiative from the UN Environment Programme and the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA) to inspire market-based solutions and encourage enabling policies to solve marine plastic pollution at source. The project is working in six countries in South East Asia: Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, from 2019-2023, and is supported by the Government of Sweden.