Addressing Plastic Waste in Bali
A video of a mantra ray and a British diver swimming in a sea of plastic off the coast of Bali went viral in March 2018, fueling public discussion on the issue of rampant and global plastic pollution. Mismanagement of plastic waste—and its subsequent journey into the world’s oceans—has long been a hot-button topic in global development, but its renewed exposure is giving way to a movement to reduce plastic waste.
As a social enterprise working to find and disseminate practical solutions that address broad development challenges, Kopernik seeks to play a role in the collective effort to reduce plastic waste. Headquartered in Bali, Indonesia over the past eight years, the organization is close to the heart of the problem: Indonesia is the world’s second-largest contributor to plastic waste in the ocean. The organization’s efforts to address plastic pollution began in late 2017 by testing the viability of a small-scale, do-it-yourself (DIY) plastic processing technology based on a model by Precious Plastic—a global open-source platform—as an appropriate solution to recycle plastic waste at a community level. The experiment found that while the machine has the economic potential to turn plastic waste collected in Bali into any number of profitable products, it was unlikely to make a significant dent in the volume of mismanaged plastic waste on the island.
The experiment shed light on the need for a multi-pronged strategy to address the convoluted waste management system. Technology fixes can only do so much without the accompanying behavioral change. In other words, as a community, we need to start changing how we do what we do daily.
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