A Plastic Neutral Program: Turning the Tide on Bali’s Plastic Problem

A circular economy solution to the plastic crisis in Bali launched in April 2019, thanks to a new international partnership.

Plastic Collective and Earthwatch are working with local NGO Sea Communities and a village-owned enterprise BUMDes Sari Lestari, installing two small portable recycling machines to kick-start a new circular economy in Les Village, a remote fishing village on Bali’s northern coast.

Plastic waste is a social and environmental problem faced the world over. This partnership is enabling the community to tackle this issue from both sides, creating a real chance of successfully improving the marine debris issue in Bali.

Gede Susila, the elected head of Les Village , said the township was happy to host this program.

”It will lessen the detrimental impact of plastic waste on our health, help keep plastic out of our environment and make our village cleaner, provide employment to our people, and once the program generates income, provide income to our village government through BUMDes. It will be our honour if we become a model for other coastal villages in Indonesia to emulate on proper management of plastic waste.”

“The Shruder machines turn plastic waste into raw materials that can be sold or made into valuable products. To foster a circular economy, we deliver training, tools and equipment to transform waste plastic into valuable resources, providing income for communities,”said Louise Hardman, Plastic Collective CEO and Founder.

Community buy-in is needed for success, according to Sea Communities, to change village practices towards plastic waste.

Elaine Kwee, project leader of Sea Communities’ reef rehabilitation program, explained “The plastic in the sea was suffocating our coral plantings. We had to tackle marine debris holistically with a land-side campaign to change people’s practices in plastic use and waste disposal."

Research to monitor impacts on debris in the environment and test whether this win-win-win theory works in practice is led by Professor Stephen Smith, Director of Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre.

“Scientific research will enable us to empirically assess if small-scale infrastructure and community-led collection and sorting can provide solutions to the waste management challenge faced by many developing countries”.

To help Professor Smith, Earthwatch organises citizen scientist expeditions to monitor environmental debris levels in parallel with the implementation of the project.

If we can demonstrate success, we can replicate the Plastic Neutral Program with other interested communities globally.

Cassandra Nichols, Earthwatch Australia CEO

The program is funded by TK Maxx with delivery on-ground by Desa Les through BUMDES (Badan Usaha Milik Desa), and Bali NGO Sea Communities, and supported by the Australian Consulate-General in Bali.