Closing the loop for plastics leads to cleaner, healthier and smarter future in Indonesia

12 Mar 2020

Plastic waste has become a nationwide problem in Indonesia. Improper solid waste management activities – which include inadequate source handling, collection and transportation and uncontrolled disposal and burning – have led to the deterioration of the living environment. Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS) in Surabaya and TNO will collaborate intensively to change this situation.

Signing of the agreements in the presence of Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen

Both institutes have committed to joining forces for the development and application of science and technology to promote a circular economy for plastics in Indonesia, starting in East Java. The focus of this collaboration is not only on recycling but also on the reuse and redesign of plastic products and packaging as well as behaviour. 

To this end, agreements have been signed in the presence of Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen of Infrastructure and Water Management during the Royal Couple’s ongoing state visit to Indonesia.

challenges for human health and the environment

The need for cooperation in this field is urgent. Due to a growing middle class in Indonesia, an increasing number of plastic products and packaging are being used. The share of plastics in the domestic waste streams has risen considerably. Plastic waste is already the second largest component of all waste in Indonesia and around 10.5 million tonnes of plastic waste are mismanaged per year.

This is caused by a lack of community awareness as well as the insufficient provision of proper infrastructure (collection, 3R sorting stations, transport and disposal facilities). As a consequence, plastic waste is disappearing into the soil, air, rivers and the ocean, causing pollution and contributing to the global marine contamination problem. Only a small percentage of all plastic waste is collected and recycled.

Plastic waste is a growing problem in Indonesia

Besides the aforementioned environmental pollution, the construction and operation of landfills in Indonesia is insufficient due to a lack of funding and technology. Locally, this leads to odour generation, greenhouse gas emissions and leachate in groundwater and surface water.

Furthermore, the burning of solid waste (which occurs in both landfills and urban and rural areas) is contributing to severe air pollution. The reduction, reuse and recycling of plastics will substantially reduce the amount of solid waste and will ultimately support the growth of the local economy.

Opportunities for circular plastics economy

Together with ITS and other Indonesian and Dutch partners from industry, government and knowledge institutes, TNO is striving the set-up of a circular plastics value chain. This including end-to-end solid waste management systems for the development of collection, separation and recycling of plastic waste in a clean, efficient, transparent and economically feasible manner.

For further information, please contact:

Mirjam van Iterson of Innovation for Development.
Rob de Ruiter of Circular Economy & Environment.


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