Accelerating solutions to our plastic waste problem

By Arianna Claridge-Chang

What’s the secret ingredient to developing plastic waste solutions? 

For Indonesian start-up Greenhope, the answer is cassava. The company is developing new technology to transform cassava (a common root vegetable) into biodegradable bioplastic. 

Greenhope had the winning plastic waste solution at this year’s Plastics Innovation Hub Indonesia Demo Day in Bali. This pitch event was part of the Road to G20: Beating Plastic Pollution from Source to Sea. 

Eight teams in our Accelerator program took part in Demo Day. This program aims to empower environmental innovators to change plastic problems into real world solutions. Our experts at Plastics Innovation Hub Indonesia mentor the start-ups.

Accelerating solutions 

In the lead up to Demo Day, the teams had to respond to three key challenges:

  • Find sustainable alternatives that outperform existing plastics
  • Improve plastics and capture value beyond first use
  • Empower decision making through reliable and accessible information

Let’s take a look at the top three winners…

Greenhope wins first prize at the Demo Day pitch event as part of the Road to G20: Beating Plastic Pollution from Source to Sea.

1. Cassava becomes catalyst for change

The first prize went to Greenhope. This start-up is developing new technology to turn cassava into biodegradable bioplastic. 

Since this venture began, Greenhope has improved the livelihoods of more than 179 cassava farmers. And it has successfully replaced 12 billion pieces of plastic through it biodegradable cassava-based plastic. 

Greenhope’s Peter Tandio said the company is now focused on scaling-up through partnerships.

“We envision a future filled with collaboration, because there is no single solution for a systemic problem like plastic pollution,” Peter said. 

“Greenhope is now ready and willing to call upon partners to join us in implementing four R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Return to Earth by using more plant-based compostable plastics.”

Andrew Sinclair (fourth from left) receiving second place prize on behalf of GTM with Amelia Fyfield (send from right) CSIRO Counsellor and ASEAN Director.

2. Trash to cash management

The second prize went to Geo Trash Management (GTM). This Indonesian company has created a new market for plastics and rubber, previously deemed unrecyclable by conventional methods.

GTM has helped Indonesian waste pickers expand their incomes. They did this by revolutionising collection facilities and waste processing capabilities. And creating a more comprehensive cash back system for waste. 

Andrew Sinclair, company director, said our Accelerator program has been instrumental in helping the company refine its business.

“We are all extremely grateful for the support and teaching from the CSIRO mentors who have given us fantastic new connections with like-minded innovators, partnership connections and the potential to gather resources we need to carry out our mission,” Andrew said. 

Duitin representative Jennifer Foster (fourth from left), receiving her award from Amelia Ekkel (third from right), Consul, Department of Foreign Affairs and trade (DFAT).

3. Recycling app creates better conditions 

The third prize went to Duitin. This mobile recycling app transforms the way waste is sorted, while simultaneously creating better working conditions for Indonesian waste pickers.

Duitin’s Jennifer Foster said she hopes the app will lead to culture change in Indonesia where recycling can become habitual. She also hopes to create a greater appreciation of the valuable work of waste pickers. 

“Duitin’s vision is to encourage future generations to start recycling their waste. We want to ensure the 3.7 million waste pickers in Indonesia are no longer marginalised, but are appreciated and given better opportunities,” Jennifer said. 

Supporting environmental entrepreneurs

All pitching teams at Demo Day will now have the opportunity to access up to $300,000 worth of funding to scale their sustainable solutions.

Our work in supporting environmental entrepreneurs throughout the Indo-Pacific is part of our Ending Plastic Waste Mission. This has a goal of an 80 per cent reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2030.

The Plastics Innovation Hub Indonesia is a partnership between CSIRODepartment of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Indonesia’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology (Kedaireka) and Indonesia’s National Plastics Action Partnership (NPAP). 

Find out more about the Indo Pacific Plastics Innovation Network.