The amount of plastic waste that flows into our oceans is truly unimaginable. An estimated 11 million tons of plastic ends up in oceans each year. According to experts, this figure might double to 29 million tons by 2040.
What is causing this phenomenon?
According to the European Union (EU), rapid urbanization, economic development, fast-changing lifestyles as well as consumption and production patterns have been contributing to the surge in marine litter.
In an effort to reduce marine litter, the European Commission (EC), an executive arm of the EU, launched an ambitious European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy in 2018. The EU wants to enhance international cooperation on circular economy and prevent marine litter in East and Southeast Asia. It launched several initiatives in Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia.
Indonesia is believed to be the second largest contributor of plastic waste, after China, in the world. It currently produces 6.8 million tons of plastic waste per year, only 10 percent of which ends up in recycling centers. About 625,000 tons of annual plastic waste is discarded into oceans.
Against this backdrop, Indonesia recently launched its National Action Plan on Marine Plastic Debris to reduce 70 percent of its plastic debris by the end of 2025.
As part of the EU’s “Rethinking Plastics: Circular Economy Solutions to Marine Litter” project, Indonesia’s four civil society groups – Jakarta-based think tank Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW), Greeneration Foundation Indonesia (GFI) and Making Oceans Plastic Free (MOPF) – launched on Wednesday (June 30) four new initiatives to reduce marine litter in Indonesia.
The first initiative is to enhance the local capacity to manage plastic waste and improve Extended Producer Responsibility in Malang regency, East Java. The second initiative is to turn Tegal port, Central Java, into a clean fishing port. The last two initiatives are the launching of the “EcoRanger: Fishing for Litter” program and creation of single-use-plastic-free schools in the country.
While addressing stakeholders at the launching virtual ceremony on Wednesday, Henriette Faergemann, counsellor for Environment, Climate Change and Information Communication Technology at the EU Delegation to Indonesia mission in Jakarta, showed her appreciation to the four civil society organizations for launching the four initiatives.
“I hope that these initiatives will provide valuable lessons to other regions about managing and reducing marine litter through circular economy,” Faergemann said.
According to Dr. Arisman, executive director of the CSEAS, the Indonesia
Packaging and Recovery Organization (IPRO) will work with CSEAS in Malang regency to ensure the success of the packaging waste reduction program.
“Enhancing the capacity of local temporary waste handling centers with reduce, reuse and recycle methods (TPS3R) and raising the awareness about TPS3R among households are part of CSEAS’s pilot projects,” Arisman said.
In an effort to optimize the usage of TPS3R and reduce plastic waste in Indonesia, the CSEAS signed an agreement on June 30 with the Packaging and Recycling Association for Indonesian Sustainable Environment (PRAISE).
Both PRAISE and CSEAS will follow the new concept of the Indonesia Packaging Recovery Organization (IPRO). The PRO concept was launched in 2020 to reduce plastic waste through producer responsibility organizations (PROs). Indonesia’s six major companies – Coca-Cola Indonesia, Danone Indonesia, PT Indofood Sukses Makmur, PT Nestle Indonesia, Tetra Pak and PT Uniliver Indonesia – have agreed to implement the novel concept.
The PRO concept, a circular economy solution to reduce plastic waste in industries, has been successfully implemented in several European countries, Mexico and South Africa.
To prevent plastic waste, expand recycling capacity and increase the market demand for recycled plastics, the government, businesses and civil society groups must work hand in hand. A circular economy must also be present to significantly reduce marine plastic waste. The main objective of a circular economy is to use resources more efficiently and sustainably according to the principle of reduce, reuse and recycle.
The Rethinking Plastics project in East and Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, is mainly funded by the EU. The transfer of knowledge among all stakeholders is being promoted through workshops, conferences, webinars, study trips and communication campaigns. In Indonesia, the Rethinking Plastics is funded by the EU and Germany, while its implementation is managed by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) with full cooperation from the government, private sector and civil society groups.