Into the Deep with our Challenge Finalists Part 2

Following the first ‘Into the Deep’ Instagram Live Series, launched by the Archipelagic and Island States Forum in July, the second series of ‘Into the Deep’ IG Live Series was aired during the 2nd week of August, hosted by the Marine Debris Secretariat (Sekretariat TKN PSL) in collaboration with the AIS forum.  

The first session invited Syawaludin, the CEO from Bintang Sejahtera, a social enterprise based in Lombok area which adopts a waste bank model that has been promoted by the Government of Indonesia since 2008, as an initiative to solve waste problem at a grassroots level.   With the vision that waste can be a valuable resource for all, Bintang Sejahtera has adopted a holistic approach of impacting public awareness, community empowerment, environmental protection and economic development through their operations. Recognizing the economic and environmental value of waste management, Syawaludin  hopes to expand his business to become the leader in the recycling industry and to make a greater contribution to job creation and alleviating poverty. He closed the session by urging the public to take the responsibility to make the world sustainable as waste is a human-induced problem.  

The next day, Sekretariat TKN PSL welcomed Fadhlan Makarim, the co-founder of Plépah, which is a start-up that produces food packaging from under-utilized agricultural resources that are available locally and providing technology to support production in a decentralized micro-manufacturing approach. Fadhlan was inspired to target the plastic waste in the food industry after seeing shocking images of a whale’s stomach filled with plastic waste and after a flooding event that left his town covered in plastic waste. Plépah not only focuses on product development but also highly values engagement with the local communities so that their operations can bring about sustained impact both in terms of the environment and local livelihoods. They plan to further diversify their product types and materials by tailoring their model to the local conditions as they expand their business to other locations.  He advised that you “bring your value” when starting a social enterprise like Plépah; a mantra that emphasizes the value of the community rather than merely focusing on the profits. 

We then met with David from Evo & Co. There are three distinct brands under this business umbrella. The first is Evoware which manufactures edible cups and other single-use plastic alternatives from seaweed. Secondly, Evoworld which produces a wider range of products for the food industry such as straws and plastic bags. Finally, Rethink runs awareness campaigns that inform people about the extent of the plastic pollution problem. David was inspired to find his start-up after spending years abroad in Canada. Upon his return to Jakarta, he realized the extent of the plastic pollution problem in Indonesia. Like all start-ups, Evo & Co has felt the impact of the pandemic, the Rethink awareness campaigns had to adapt to the new health restrictions. However, David explained that as restaurants have been operating mainly as takeaways during the last months, there has been an increased demand for single-use containers, leaving a more open market for Evoworld’s products. Towards the end of the session, he reminded the audience that there is a hidden cost to cheap single-use plastics. Although they might appear to be cost-effective, in the long run the impact that they have on our ocean and coastal environment as well as their impact on our health in the form of microplastics is a far greater price to pay. He sees the development of innovative alternatives to single-use plastics as the way forward for the packaging industry.  

Fauzal from Sampangan closed our Into the Deep sessions with the EPPIC finalists. In an exciting and impassioned broadcast, he explained that his dream with his start-up is to create a zero-waste world for his one-year-old daughter and future generations. While visiting Bantar Gebang landfil, Fauzal saw eight-story high towers of waste and realized the mind-blowing extent of the plastic waste problem. From there, he founded Sampangan and the ‘Magic Box’ solution. The magic box is a machine that uses heat to convert plastic waste into valuable commodities, for example disinfectant and other chemical products. It is aptly named because it appears to transform plastic as if by magic! It is a highly scalable solution as countries all over the world are facing the same plastic pollution problem. Fauzal and his team are currently working on exporting the magic box to Brazil. He closed the session with some advice for future entrepreneurs. Echoing the advice of other EPPIC finalists, he announced that when you have an idea you should “just start”. It’s important to build a support system and gain mentorship and experience through programs such as EPPIC but the most important thing is to simply begin your start-up journey. 

The second series of live sessions spurred interesting and inspiring discussions on various topics from challenges in setting up your own business, the visions and goals of the finalists and many more. We look forward to seeing how these businesses develop their solutions even further through the incubation program coming up September.  

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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