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COP28 unveils voluntary recycling credits initiative

The program aims to incentivize recycling and dramatically reduce the solid waste footprint

COP28 unveils voluntary recycling credits initiative
[Source photo: Pankaj Kirdatt/Fast Company Middle East]

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Annually, the global production of municipal solid waste reaches a staggering 17-18 billion tonnes, stemming from individual contributions and various industrial, electronic, and agricultural sources. To add to the grim picture, worldwide municipal solid waste generation is projected to surge by a terrifying 70%, reaching 3.4 billion tonnes by 2050.

In a turning point in the fight against global waste, at COP28, a landmark initiative was unveiled – the Voluntary Recycling Credits (VRC) Initiative.

The program, spearheaded by an international consortium led by Roland Berger and BEEAH Group, aims to incentivize recycling and dramatically reduce the solid waste footprint.

The VRC Initiative is a public-private partnership involving the DFINITY Foundation and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA). It was officially launched with the support of the UAE Ministry of Climate Change & Environment (MoCCaE) and the COP28 Presidency.

This initiative establishes a standardized system for earning and trading recycling credits. Businesses and organizations can offset their waste footprint by purchasing credits from verified recycling projects. This creates a powerful financial incentive to increase recycling rates and divert waste from landfill sites.

Hani Tohme, managing partner, Roland Berger Middle East, said, “The VRC Initiative is built to solve a concrete market gap: with the private sector setting more commitments towards net-zero and circularity, we also acknowledge major barriers to deliver on it: double-counting, transparency, cost-effectiveness.”

“We decided to tackle it through solid collaboration and exchange between the public and private sector, with a cross-national approach and a cooperative mindset,” Tohme added.

The program has completed its proof-of-concept phase. The first-ever live VRC transaction was showcased at the UAE Pavilion at COP28, demonstrating the initiative’s practical application and potential impact.

With the successful pilot laying the groundwork, the full-scale VRC platform is now poised for development and official launch in 2024.

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