by Hendro Putra Johannes • 1 September 2022

Preventing and reducing marine plastic pollution requires a circular economy approach, covering all stages of the life cycle of plastics, including material extraction and refining; design and manufacture of products; trade and retail; use and reuse; recycling; and final disposal.

It aims to keep plastics in the economy for as long as possible, to reduce the need for new materials and to derive as much use and value as possible.

Adopting circular economy to plastics includes, not only recycling or ban of single-use plastic products, but also coordinated policy interventions in upstream level, such as avoiding use of harmful additives, developing viable alternatives, adopting business models that enable reuse and repair scheme, designing product with long lifetimes, necessary warranties, and recyclability, as well as setting up source-segregated waste collection systems.

To accelerate such efforts, strong and continuous financial supports are a crucial element. In Indonesia, national government strives to assist local governments to enhance their capacity in waste management, but lack of funding is a real challenge faced.

Average budget allocation for waste management in cities or districts is only 0.7 percent of the total budget, while the ideal proportion is about 4-5 percent. Increasing the budget allocation should be considered, as part of political wills from local leaders.

Furthermore, funding itself would not be enough to make such business model sustainable. Entrepreneurship skill is a key to unlock the value of plastics for longer term. Such skill is important to effectively manage and use the funding.

‘If there is no entrepreneurship thinking, the funding, even if unlimited, will just run out at some point. It is better to hand over such business model to private sector, including recycling associations like Indonesian Plastics Recycling Association (ADUPI) or Indonesian Plastics Recyclers (IPR), with incentive support from the government,’ Ms Ariana Susanti, Business Development Director of Indonesian Packaging Federation, mentioned during a talk show on circular economy in Bali last week.

To administer such a skill and opportunity, innovative start-ups in the field of refill, recycling, or waste management, are recently growing.

‘In the past three years, there are about 145 start-ups adopting circular economy to reduce or manage plastics,’ Mr Ujang Solihin Sidik, Head of Producers Management Sub-Directorate of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia, mentioned in the same forum.

Such start-ups are gradually putting concern and awareness to apply circular economy in their business models, due to some benefits.

‘Future businesses are businesses that are aware of circular economy as a way forward for sustainability. By adopting circular economy, they could experience business efficiencies, valuable branding image, and greater chance to survive in future markets,’ Mr Ujang explained.

Also read: Waste Reduction by Indonesian Producers: Opportunities and Challenges towards Sustainable Business