EPPIC Incubation Kick-Off: Solving Plastic Pollution in Asia-Pacific Through Innovation and Entrepreneurship

After great anticipation, the next phase of the EPPIC Incubation has begun, launched with a kick-off event on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021. This nine-week programme will provide challenge participants with one-to-one coaching, classes from expert mentors, and a field trip to Mandalika, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. At the end of the nine weeks, the programme participants will pitch their business ideas to a panel of government officials, investors, and other stakeholders.



The challenge participants were greeted warmly by representatives of the Indonesian government who explained how the crucial the EPPIC challenge is for resolving plastic pollution in the ASEAN region. Firstly, Rofi Alhanif, Deputy Assistant for Solid Waste and Waste Management, Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment opened the session by expressing his hope that the challenge will enhance co-operation between ASEAN countries working to resolve the worsening plastic pollution crisis. He announced that this challenge would not just benefit the entrepreneurs taking part but would benefit “citizens, governments, and the private sector”. Agus Supriyanto, Section Head for Retail Management, representing Novrizal Tahar, Director of Solid Waste Management, of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in Indonesia made clear that this challenge is an opportunity to make Indonesia both “better and cleaner”.

The participants then heard from Firmansyah, Head of Waste Management and Environment Pollution Control Division, representing Madani Mukarom, the Head of Environment and Forest Department in Nusa Tenggara Barat Pronvince, where this challenge is based. He expressed his pride for his province, explaining that Mandalika has been identified nationally as a priority area for the development of tourism. This competition is coming at a time when enormous changes related to tourism development are taking place in Mandalika. The current waste system is not functioning well enough to protect the local natural resources and must be redesigned to reflect the changing needs in the area. Abdul Wahib Situmorang of UNDP Indonesia followed this presentation, he highlighted that reducing plastic pollution in this way not only benefits the environment but also empowers the local community in Mandalika to develop sustainable waste management schemes and creates job opportunities, particularly for women who are often invisible in spaces where waste management is discussed. This challenge, he emphasised, will develop both upstream and downstream solutions to the crisis that Mandalika is facing.

Each of the participating teams then gave an elevator pitch of their business ideas to the government officials, programme facilitators and their fellow competitors. A huge variety exists among the challenge entries: from edible plastic alternatives to engineering plastic to biofuel systems. Although these creative solutions are vastly different, the teams share a common vision of a world free from plastic pollution.

Finally, Gendewa Tunas Rancak of Universitas Nahdatul Ulama Nusa Tenggara Barat  from the Mandalika Plastic Pollution research team introduced the participants to the Mandalika region, where there will complete their field trip in a few weeks. He explained that Mandalika has been highlighted nationally as a priority area for the development of tourism. This status has brought about new developments and changes in the area. From the university’s research, they have found that the increase in visitors directly corresponds to the quantity of plastic waste produced in the area. The challenge will also be to educate and empower the local villagers in Mandalika who currently have a lack of understanding of sustainable waste management, or their waste disposal facilities are inadequate.

The final pitching for EPPIC will take place in December 2021. Stay tuned to AIS Forum and TKN PSL on Instagram (@aisforum & @tkn_psl) and Facebook to see what our contestants get up to over the next nine weeks! For more regular updates on the EPPIC Competition and our work against plastic pollution, like and follow our Facebook page at Ocean or Plastic?

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