Plastic waste problem is one of the most crucial issues in Indonesia today. Data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) showed that waste problem in the country has the potential to accelerate global warming and climate change.

It is a common thing to find households and small industries dispose their waste in ways that endanger the environment. The waste is burned, dumped carelessly into the river or ditches, or buried. This thing happens because of a lack of understanding in waste management as well as ineffective and unintegrated recycling program. 

We must pay attention to this problem so that future generations can still enjoy the world as we do. There must be a multi-stakeholder collaboration in order to solve the plastic waste problem, which includes the government, industry players, and consumers.

One of the concrete steps taken by industry players is establishing PRAISE (Packaging and Recycling Association for Indonesia Sustainable Environment). PRAISE is a non-profit organization founded by Coca-Cola Indonesia, Indofood Sukses Makmur, Nestle Indonesia, Tetra Pak Indonesia, Tirta Investama, and Unilever Indonesia Foundation. The vision is to create and drive a sustainable ecosystem and convert plastic packaging waste into high-value resources that have economic, social, and environmental benefits for Indonesia in 2030.

The objective is in line with Coca-Cola’s vision ‘World Without Waste’, which has targeted to use 100% packaging that can be recycled globally in 2025, use at least 50% of recycled material in packaging in 2030, as well as collect and recycle Coca-Cola bottles or cans and work together to support a healthy and waste-free environment.

“To realize our ambition, we support the establishment of circular economic ecosystem where packaging waste is seen as resources, not just garbage,” says Diego Gonzalez, President Director of Coca-Cola Indonesia.

What Diego Gonzalez says is not without a reason. The waste problem actually can be turned into opportunities that can bring economic benefits by implementing circular economic practices. In 2017, the practice of circular economy in 5,244 waste banks across 34 provinces in Indonesia succeeded in creating job opportunities and new work fields for the surrounding communities.

Therefore, together with other stakeholders, PRAISE launched Packaging Recovery Organization (PRO) virtually on August 25, 2020, in order to address several challenges in waste management and optimize circular economic practices in Indonesia.

PRO will operate as a non-profit organization that is managed professionally and independently. PRO’s activities will be divided into three categories:

  • Category A for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) packaging, aimed at creating recycled or end-products market.
  • Category B for Used Beverage Carton (UBC), flexible packaging and high-density polyethylene (HDPE), aimed at improving the capacity of collection system.
  • Category C, which includes education for the surrounding community.

This year, PRO programs will be implemented mainly in Surabaya and Bali by creating plans to process PET plastic packaging materials with 60% recycling target. In 2021 onwards, PRO will focus on processing other packaging materials, such as UBC, flexible packaging, and HDPE. In 2021, PRO will expand opportunities to increase membership in order to have more stakeholders involved in the program.

Triyono Prijosoesilo, Public Affairs and Communication Director at PT Coca-Cola Indonesia, says that the creation of PRO is a good step for Indonesia. The first year of the PRO implementation will be quite tough amid uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On a brighter note, the difficult situation caused by the pandemic has made industry players more committed to continue playing their important roles in tackling packaging waste problem in Indonesia. Various stakeholders work together to improve collection and recycling process of packaging waste in Indonesia.

“However, with professional management and full support from industry, the government, and other stakeholders, I firmly believe that PRO can become a solution that can change the situation and a catalyst that can encourage the creation of the right ecosystem to deal with packaging waste problem in Indonesia. PRO can be Indonesia’s future in Circular Economy and a shining example on how Indonesian stakeholders come together to find solution for Indonesia,” says Triyono Prijosoesilo.

The creation of PRO by PRAISE also received appreciation from various groups of people. At the launching event, the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment expressed his recognition and support for PRO program initiated by PRAISE. Luhut also invited local governments to support the success of PRO programs.

“I fully support packaging restoration as it exhibits industry’s concerns to solve industrial waste problem, which has now become a world problem. If we do some calculation, Jakarta alone has around 8,000 tons of waste per day,” Luhut says during press conference on the PRO inauguration at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Investment on Tuesday (25/8), as quoted from Kumparan.com.

East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa, who also participated as one of the sources at the panel discussion, expressed her appreciation.

“Since PRO program is a collective effort of industry players, I am optimistic that it would give socio-economic and environmental benefits from the practice of circular economy. The future hope is that the program can be developed in other districts/cities in East Java, so the benefits can be enjoyed by wider community,” says Khofifah.

By implementing PRO program that was initiated by PRAISE, there will be a glimmer of hope that Indonesia could be free from plastic waste in the next few decades.

“PRO can be Indonesia’s future in circular economic activities and a good example for other countries on how to make packaging waste problems as part of the past,” says Diego Gonzalez.