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Rethinking Recycling Academy brings partners to the table to provide a holistic and empowering solution to address the growing waste crisis in Indonesia.

November 11, 2020

Indonesia’s waste crisis is at a tipping point. 

“We are experiencing overflowing landfills. The height of the waste that is piling up is 7 times the size of our most sacred temple.” Dhia Fani, a Rethinking Recycling associate, told attendees last week as partners and friends gathered to celebrate the digital launch of the Rethinking Recycling Academy. Dhia has seen first hand the impact of the waste crisis, “when I swim in the ocean, it gives me anxiety, because I am not sure if I am swimming next to a jellyfish or if it is transparent plastic. For me it might just be being scared of a jellyfish, but for the community, the impact is on the quality of food and the fish we eat”. The plastic Dhia refers to stems from uncollected waste that then ends up in rivers or the environment and eventually in the oceans creating not just an environmental crisis, but a health crisis. 

In early 2019, McKinsey.org and partners launched Desa Kedas (Clean Village), a pilot program aimed at reimaging recycling systems in Bali. Working alongside community leaders and waste workers, Desa Kedas re-engineered a community owned recycling and composting center that is now green, financially self-sustaining, operationally optimized and delivers significant benefits for the workers, the environment and the community at large.

It takes a village to scale impact 

Building on the success of Desa Kedas and in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we launched the Rethinking Recycling Academy pilot program, in order to provide the necessary tools and resources to empower communities across Indonesia to replicate the Desa Kedas model and drive their own recycling journey. Together with our partners we have created a holistic approach to addressing the waste crisis to deliver good jobs, sustainable infrastructure and community driven recycling programs to create win-win solutions for people and our planet.

Yumi Nishikawa who works on the Plastic-smart cities initiative at the World Wildlife Fund says it’s important to find “real-life examples that can show people that there is an uncomplicated solution to our waste problem and that it’s not impossible…we want to change behaviors and systems that are not working right now or that can be further optimized.” Yumi’s hope for the Rethinking Recycling Academy is that it is a solution that can be scaled across the region. 

“The evolution of our work in Bali has demonstrated that this is truly a village and it takes a village to solve our waste crisis. Every partner has brought their own unique approach and experience and together all of this thinking and passion has made the academy a truly holistic solution to sustainable waste management” said Rethinking Recycling’s Executive Director Shannon Bouton. Over the past year and a half, we’ve worked alongside waste workers, community leaders, local organizations and industry players to lay the groundwork for a waste ecosystem where people and our planet can thrive. 

Our “village” is made up of our Academy partners and friends. Together we are building a platform and pathway towards a resilient waste ecosystem in Indonesia. 

We invite you to join our village and our community as we reimagine our future and the future of sustainable waste management systems. 

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