Bali, undeniably is a world class tourism destination but this reputation has also attracted international awareness around its significant plastic waste in particular. In conjunction with Hari Peduli Sampah Nasional (National Waste Awareness Day), Danone-AQUA, held series of actions to accelerate Indonesia’s transition to a circular economy to solve Bali’s plastic waste issue.

Danone-AQUA together with National Geographic Indonesia, the Malu Dong Community, Systemiq, and Octopus Indonesia, shared their efforts during the webinar on February 19th. Followed with a beach clean-up activity and webinar with One Island One Voice on February 21st to further discuss on finding the joint solutions between, community and private sectors.

According to recent findings by the National Plastic Action Partnership released in April 2020, plastic waste volumes in 2020 reached 6.8 million tons in Indonesia. The results also predicted that plastic waste would continue to increase by 5% each year.

President Director of Danone-AQUA, Corine Tap, said the only way to achieve the Indonesian Government’s targets of reducing plastic waste to the oceans by 70% in 2025 would be to commit to a holistic circular economic approach, with greater innovation of product packaging, plastic waste collection and consumer education.

Danone does not hide from the fact that waste management in Indonesia is very complicated. The company was the first to admit that solving plastic waste challenges requires tireless efforts from multi stakeholder coalitions. Head of Danone’s Climate & Water Stewardship, Ratih Anggraeni, shared during the webinar that Danone-AQUA was the first company to believe the circular economy concept is a key solution to solving the plastic waste issue across Indonesia. Ratih said, “we have implemented numerous innovative waste management initiatives starting from grass roots to the recycling facilities and innovative packaging. We are committed to utilizing collected materials as our source to produce new packaging for our water bottle products, thus reducing plastic waste into the environment, and which embodies Danone’s global vision – One Planet, One Health”.

Ratih added that AQUA, as an icon brand in Indonesia and the largest bottled mineral water company, uses its unique and integrated solutions to actively address plastic waste issues. “We are committed to achieving targets of producing 100% recyclable packaging by 2025. To achieve this target, we continue our commitment to packaging innovation to provide healthy hydration for all Indonesians by reducing and ultimately eliminating the impact of current and future plastic waste. Since 1983, we launched environmentally friendly packaging for our AQUA Jugs, already achieving 70% of our business is circular. We continue to innovate our packaging and have already launched in Bali various new products including a 600 ml this year, and the 1L bottle, which both use 100% rPET (recycled PET) plastic. We also have increased our commitment to consumer education across schools on the understanding what the circular economy is about,” she added.

Since 2018 we have identified Bali as a “world-class” case study for Danone-AQUA, which has become the company’s focus for implementing extensive sustainability initiatives. As a pioneer of the circular economy model, the company has been quietly working hand in hand with multiple partners to address Bali’s plastic waste challenges. The company admits there are still many steps to take before genuinely effective behavioral and consumption changes will be achieved across the island, but Danone-AQUA has already been committed to this for the last ten years.

Lincoln Rajali Sihotang, Program Manager Sistemiq said, “according to our research, 829 tons of plastic waste is generated in Bali every day, but only 57 tons (7%) is recycled. Meanwhile 89 tons (11%) remain in the water system flowing to the ocean. We are also trying to map out the waste and composition in many locations. We need to understand community behavior, have a better understand the river water system itself, and look at waste disposal habits and protocol among. We hope this data will become the basis on which to plan more effective solutions to solving waste management.”

Since Danone launched it’s #BijakBerplastik campaign in 2018, the company has been promoting plastic waste management through various public campaigns, focusing on three pillars:

· Collection – in 2018, more than 1,100 scavengers joined two Bali AQUA Recycling Business Units (RBU) in Tohpati, Denpasar and Lepang, Klungkung. For the scavengers, plastic waste will provide greater economic benefits compared to other types of waste. Danone-AQUA is also working on creative ways to increase scavengers’ welfare by providing them with a digitalized collection service through the recently launched Octopus digital application. This application enables consumers in Badung and Denpasar to call the scavengers to collect plastic bottles directly from their homes or workplaces to be taken for collection to a nearby recycling point. Since early 2021, more than 1,000 users in Bali have utilized the Octopus app.

· Education – partnering with the Indonesia Ministry of Culture and Education, Indonesia Coordinating Ministry of Maritime and Investment, Yayasan Lentera Anak, and the University of Indonesia, Danone-AQUA launched the educational book “Sampahku Tanggung Jawabku” targeting elementary school children. Since 2020, partnering with EcoBali, Danone-AQUA has distributed the book to ten schools spread across Badung, Denpasar and Gianyar reaching more than 2,400 students. The education program is also supported by local communities with the opening of 10 waste banks (Bank Sampah) from Danone-AQUA in partnership with Yayasan Bali Wastu Lestari in Ubud.

· Innovation – Danone-AQUA’s commitment is to produce plastic packaging that can be 100% recycled by 2025. In 2019, Danone-AQUA pioneered the first 100% fully recycled PET plastic bottle, AQUALife, and have continued their innovation by relaunching the Returnable Glass Bottle, which is produced to serve the hospitality sector. Recently, Danone-AQUA launched its new 100% fully recycled 600ml PET bottle, currently only available in Bali.

It is a little-known fact that since 2015, Danone-AQUA has collected more plastic bottles than the company used through multiple partnerships with local NGOs and community groups, scavengers, and waste banks.

“Waste collection through the new Octopus application has proven to be very efficient. Within less than three years, we have 19,000 users and build partnership with more than 2,700 scavengers, and managed to collect 9 tons of plastic waste in Makassar and Bali. The successful partnership with Danone-AQUA, has pushed us to replicate the waste collection method in Jakarta and Bandung in 2021,” said Moehammad Ichsan, Co-founder and CEO Octopus Indonesia. “Through an efficient waste management process, we believe the community can now actively participate within their surrounding ecosystem and environment, thus helping to improve the conditions of our oceans,” he added.

Komang Bimo, Founder of Malu Dong Community also added, “Bali has always been known as a world class tourism destination. However, although many internationally based ideas and initiatives are being implemented, we need to remember that local wisdom and culture remains strong. That makes Bali unique. I believe a community-based approach will remain the most effective way to help solve the plastic waste challenge. No matter how small the effort, the need for consistent programs and ideas within our young Balinese people will ultimately bring about positive and improved changes in waste disposal habits across the wider community.”

Danone-AQUA believes everyone should be involved to accelerate Indonesia’s transition to a circular economy and help solve plastic waste issue.