Recycling and up-cycling are two ways of converting waste or used products like plastics, bottles, and paper to new items that have economic value.

By utilising the economic value contained in waste, we can reduce the amount of rubbish disposed in landfills and reduce environmental pollution. Furthermore, circular economy increases employment and the economy.

The Indonesian Plastics Recyclers (IPR) mentioned that the economic turnover generated only from plastic waste is said to reach up to IDR 6.5 billions.

“The vision of a “circular economy”—where we use resources sparingly and recycle endlessly—is inspiring businesses and environmentalists alike.” National Geographic, 18th February 2020

The Anambas Foundation (AF) introduced the circular economy model to the people of the Anambas Islands in 2019. Those who resided in Kiabu village, were taught how to make recycled and up-cycled products as part of the organization’s Integrated Waste Management program. In the first stage AF provided them with education on waste sorting and facilities that supported waste management process in order for them to get materials needed to make recycled and up-cycled products. AF then divided the training into two parts: first, an up-cycling training conducted by a volunteer from America and Bawah Reserve staff to create bags and pouches from plastic waste; second, recycling training to create bricks made from plastic and styrofoam that can be used to build structures within the community. The locals are still learning and improving their craft and AF continues to provide necessary support needed for the circular economy to run properly. Moreover, Bawah Reserve has made a commitment to buy these recycled and up-cycled products once they reach the required standard set by the resort.

The program is expanding beyond Kiabu and will receive help from members of the women’s group in Kiabu who are willing to share their skills with the people of Telaga village.

In the future, AF is planning to conduct an online follow-up training session to improve the quality of the products in order to gain higher economic value. The hope for this initiative is to help elevate the locals skills set and improve the economy in the Anambas all while helping to eliminate plastics from the beautiful natural surroundings of the archipelago.
What is Circular Economy?
“A circular economy is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. Circular systems employ reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling to create a close-loop system, minimising the use of resource inputs and the creation of waste, pollution and carbon emissions.” WIKIPEDIA

So a circular economy is the opposite of the traditional linear economy (take-make-use-dispose) in which we utilise resources for as long as possible, extract their maximum value while they are usable and dispose when they reach the end of their life.
Let’s talk plastic
Plastic waste is a huge problem in Indonesia, the country is the second largest plastic waste contributor in the world right after China. In 2019 waste in Indonesia reached 64 million. Out of 380 final disposal sites (landfills) available across the region, 50% of them have almost reached their maximum capacity and according to Sustainable Waste Indonesia less than 10 percent of the plastic waste is getting recycled. Meanwhile, plastic consumption continues to rise, in line with economic and population growth in the country. Data released in 2019 by Ministry of Industry shows that in the next five years, plastic consumption will increase from the initial 17-23 kilograms to 25-49 kilograms per capita per year.
So how do we as  individuals and as a society tackle this issue? First, we start by practising the 3R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle. Limiting the use of plastic bags and opting for reusable shopping bags is something that everyone can do and requires minimum effort.
Another solution that can benefit the society as a whole is practising circular economy.