by Ellen Putri Edita and Hendro Putra Johannes • 21 September 2021

21 September 2021 – Private sector plays a fundamental role in enhancing plastic waste management by providing funding for investment and green jobs, said an Indonesian Ministry official in the first online event named ‘How Private Companies in Indonesia Combat Marine Plastic Debris’ organised by the Regional Knowledge Centre for Marine Plastic Debris (RKC-MPD).

Mr Rofi Alhanif, Deputy Assistant for Waste and Wastewater Management at the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment of the Republic Indonesia, underscored in his speech that private sector has a big potential to contribute in reducing or replacing plastic use, redesigning plastic products and packaging, doubling plastic waste collection and recycling capacity, and building or expanding waste disposal facilities.

As an example of private sector’s contribution, Mr Alhanif cited the waste to energy (WtE) plant in Benowo, Surabaya in East Java and refuse derived fuel (RDF) plant in Cilacap.

‘To achieve the national target to reduce marine plastic debris up to 70 percent by 2025, Indonesia requires US$5.1 billion for investment and US$1.1 billion per year for operation to run effective waste management and increase recycling rate. This is an opportunity for private sector (to invest),’ said Mr Alhanif.

Also read: Mr Rofi Alhanif’s presentation

The webinar featured speakers from multinational company Danone Indonesia, two Indonesian green start-ups namely Rekosistem and Rebricks, as well as a representative from Japan Clean Ocean Material Alliance (CLOMA) Indonesia Working Group.

Mr Karyanto Wibowo, Sustainability Director of Danone Indonesia, emphasized that the company supports the Government of Indonesia by committing to recover more plastics that they use by 2025, which focuses on collection, education, and innovation.

‘We (Danone and Veolia Indonesia) are currently working to triple the capacity of recycling plant in Pasuruan, East Java. We are also building an integrated waste management site in Lamongan and Bali with the capacity up to 180 tons per day,’ said Mr Wibowo, who is also the Chairman of Packaging and Recycling Association for Indonesia Sustainable Environment (PRAISE).

‘Other initiatives include the expansion of plastic bottle collection centres in 17 districts and massive plastic bottle collection that partners with 10,000 scavengers in Bali,’ he added.

Also read: Mr Karyanto Wibowo’s presentation

Co-founder and CEO of Rebricks Indonesia, Ms Novita Tan, introduced her company’s efforts to transform rejected plastic waste that often ends up in landfill or leaks to water bodies into building materials such as pavers, hollow block and roster.

‘We are working with thousands of volunteers from Jakarta and other cities who have donated their rejected plastic waste to Rebricks’ drop points located in Jakarta. Rebricks plans to expand our initiative to other cities, in collaboration with the government, NGOs, and private companies,’ she said.

Also read: Ms Novita Tan’s presentation

Mr Ernest Layman, CEO and Co-founder of Rekosistem, presented his company’s digital platforms contributing to a circular economy by improving the waste value chain. His approach revolves around visualization of information, on topics such as waste accounting, market insight data, and transportation cost reduction with the aim of encouraging user participation in problem solving.

‘We aim to enable and empower current waste workers to collect more, segregate properly, and ensure the proper type of waste to be sent to any specific recycling centre,’ he explained. 

Also read: Mr Ernest Layman’s presentation

Challenges for Private Sector and Needs for Collaboration

The main challenge for Rebricks, according to Ms. Tan is the fact that the collected waste exceeds the demand of recycled products.

“We need the support from the government and business sector by using our recycled products for public facilities, CSR projects, or research and development purposes” she argued.

Another challenge according to Mr. Layman is the need to scale up existing initiatives, as the more waste is collected the more leverage we can create for the recycling businesses. Moreover, shifting to a responsible waste collection comes with an initial investment cost for infrastructures.

‘However, investors are still hesitant to put their investment on such environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Having stakeholders on board in different levels of the value chain is essential to address the challenges,’ he concluded.

Mr Wibowo added that all stakeholders need to collaborate to make well-structured, substantial and collective actions to make a difference.

Mr Osachi Takagi from CLOMA reiterated that his Alliance, which hosts more than 440 private companies in Japan, seeks to assist Indonesia to achieve the target to reduce 70 percent of plastic going into the oceans by 2025.

‘We continue to collaborate with organizations like ERIA and local governments like in Surabaya, East Java, as well as other private companies. It has been difficult to conduct field activities in Indonesia due to the on-going pandemic, but the Private Sector Platform proposed by ERIA’s RKC-MPD team has been a useful platform connecting us with potential business partners,’ he said.

Also read: Mr Osachi Takagi’s presentation

Finally, Indonesian as well we non-Indonesian companies attending the event were invited to take part in RKC-MPD’s online Private Sector Platform, which showcases positive business activities that take place in ASEAN+3 region, contributing to plastic waste reduction and/or to marine plastic pollution prevention.

‘By participating in the platform, the private companies will be better known to potential consumers within the region, be able to find potential business opportunities, can promote the company’s sustainability efforts, and appeal to potential investors,’ explained Ms Ayako Mizuno, Programme Manager of the RKC-MPD.

Also read: Ms Ayako Mizuno’s presentation

This was the first edition of the series of online events focusing on private sector’s contribution to address marine plastic issue. In his opening and closing remarks, Mr. Michikazu Kojima, ERIA’s Research Fellow recognized the important role played by the private sector in combating marine plastic waste.

‘Private companies are pioneering in innovation, development of new technologies and products, creation of alternative materials to plastic, ensuring the 3R approaches, and implementing proper waste disposal and others. But one company alone will not be able to change whole economic system,’ argued Mr. Kojima.

‘Private sector needs collaboration and information exchange to foster economic development as well as to address marine plastic issue, given the deeply integrated economic system in which we live.’