Wednesday, September 16, 2009

the travels of a plastic cup in Indonesia

The Jakarta Post offers an excellent chronicle of the recycling supply chain in Indonesia, as a plastic cup, once thrown away, moves through layers of the informal economy into the formal economy.

Moh. Darmadi, a self-employed plastic-waste collector, roams the streets of South Jakarta’s Setiabudi neighborhood equipped with a metal picker and a plastic sack on his back. He sells his takings to a lapak — a term for businesses that buy waste material from trash collectors. The price: Rp 900 for a kilogram of plastic cups and bottles; half that amount for plastic bags.

The lapak, which employs laborers to clean, sort, and prepare the plastic, earns perhaps Rp 10 million a week per truckload of recycled materials.

The purchaser more carefully sorts the plastics, and then runs them through a shredder which chops the raw material into fine pellets. This business sells to formal sector manufacturers, for a weekly turnover of Rp 45 million.

Only about half of the plastic waste produced annually is being recycled. While plastic accounts for 13.9 percent of the waste in Greater Jakarta, only 6.5 percent is recycled, according to a World Bank pilot project on waste identification.

To increase this amount, it is necessary to work with the informal sector.

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