Ocean plastic prevention, at its core, is about managing waste from the source. However, managing waste and preventing it from leaking into the ocean is particularly challenging in the context of Indonesia- waste management systems are largely decentralized and waste pickers in the informal economy account for much waste collection activities.
Diverting waste from the ocean requires a system-level solution, which engages not only government waste management infrastructure, but also private businesses, individual households, and nonprofit organizations. Most importantly, the waste pickers in the informal sectors. Such a system-level solution does easily come from adapting existing approaches, but it calls for innovating and building an eco-system.
The Ocean Plastic Prevention Accelerator (OPPA) partners with the Indonesian National Plastic Action Partnership (NPAP) and Global National Plastic Action Partnership to launch the Informal Plastic Collection Innovation Challenge (IPCIC) hosted on UpLink. IPCIC is powered by The Incubation Network that’s supported by SecondMuse, The Circulate Initiative (TCI), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW). In three months’ time, a cohort of 12 advanced-stage innovators will receive tailored support from mentors and other innovators
Yet, limited by the COVID environment, how to create an environment for breeding partnerships and locally scalable solutions in three months and in a virtual space? From June 23 to June 24, 2021, OPPA organized a two-day virtual Kick-off Summit to introduce participants to the Indonesian local waste management context and nurture a collaborative mindset among the innovators and mentors.
On day one, Nurdiana Darus, the Head of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability for Unilever Indonesia, presented a workshop on the Indonesia waste management landscape. Prispolly Lengkong, leader of the Indonesian Waste Picker Association (IPI) presented, the importance of informal waste pickers and the existing initiatives aiming to improve livelihoods for the informal waste pickers.
On day two, Feri Al Hamid from PT VEOLIA shared his insights on sustainable collection center programs and the recycling industry in Indonesia. Klaus Oberbauer, OPPA Program Manager, also shared OPPA’s local knowledge and insights on the informal sector involvement and infrastructures such as waste banks in the Indonesian waste management landscape.
Impact Rotation sessions were the highlights during the Kick-off summit- an activity designed to foster potential partnerships and encourage knowledge exchange. On each day, 6 of the 12 innovators rotated among 6 breakout rooms, in which they receive feedback from different IPCIC advisory committee members and fellow innovators.
Advisory committee members asked questions like scalability, local adaptation, or ability to engage informal waste pickers. Besides, conversations, information exchanges, and learning also happened between innovators. The innovators shared insights and learnings on waste sorting technologies, on user or waste picker engagement, paving ways for aspiring partnerships to come.
Jessica from one of the innovators, Empower, reflected after the impact rotation sessions, “We just had those rotational sessions. What we really liked about this was just to be able to connect and ask questions, and we got some good feedback and good connections as well with the advisors that we had.” Empower enables monetization and tracking of plastic recycling flow with blockchain technology.
Mohamad Bijaksana Junerosano, CEO of Waste4Change and member of the IPCIC advisory committee shared that, “I'm very happy to see all the innovation then initiative, because this is very huge problem and complex problem about waste. So I'm happy now it's we have a lot of enthusiasm and ideation.”
The Kick-off Summit is only the prelude to ongoing mentorship, workshops, and peer support that can nurture partnerships among the 12 innovators and stakeholder organizations from the Indonesian National Plastic Action Partnership (NPAP). But the seeds of innovation, collaboration, and informal sector awareness have been planted.