Developed by the Circularity Informatics Lab at the University of Georgia (UGA), the Circularity Assessment Protocol (CAP) is a standardized assessment protocol to inform decision-makers through collecting community-level data on plastic usage. Grounded in materials flow and systems thinking concepts, the CAP uses a hub-and-spokemodel to holistically characterize how consumer plastic flows into a community, is consumed, and flows out, eitherthrough waste management systems or leakage into the environment. The model, shown below, is composed of seven spokes: input, community, material and product design, use, collection, end of cycle, and leakage. At the center,the system is driven by policy, economics and governance with key influencers including non-governmental organizations, industry and government.
Between February 2021 and March 2021, a team at The Centre for Marinelife Conservation and Community Development (MCD), with guidance and support from the Circularity Informatics Lab, conducted fieldwork in the city of Nam Dinh, Vietnam. The CAP was conducted with support from the city’s local government and Ocean Conservancy. Fieldwork included product and packaging assessments in stores across the city; key stakeholder interviews with government, industry, and non-profit organizations; material type characterizations for consumer plastic items; cost analysis of reusable products and alternatives to plastic available in the city; visual audits of recycling contamination; identification of public waste and recycling collection bins; and litter transects in three categories of population.