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How Waste4Change helps Indonesia’s government mitigate hazardous landfills

Landfills pose environmental problems throughout the world, emitting stench, attracting pests, and producing hazardous gasses that contribute to global warming. What’s more, these giant piles of decomposing junk can dangerously collapse when it rains too hard.

To address this, the Indonesian government implemented a sweeping initiative in 2017 to lessen the nation’s reliance on landfills for waste disposal. By 2025, the nation seeks to reduce 30% of the county’s waste from the source and to manage at least 70% of it responsibly. 

The private sector is also backing the battle. Launched in 2014, Waste4Change is now a leading responsible waste management platform for companies, individuals, and government agencies in the archipelago.

In a recent podcast, Head of ESG at AC Ventures Lauren Blasco spoke with Mohamed Bijaksana Junerosano (“Sano” for short), co-founder and CEO of Waste4Change. The pair discussed recent actions made toward improved waste management in Indonesia and why these steps are direly needed.

Since 2017, Waste4Change has grown at a CAGR of 55.1%. The startup also recently raised a fresh funding round of US$5 million, co-led by AC Ventures. For its part, ACV recently established the nation’s first quantifiable ESG standards in a new impact report produced in partnership with Boston Consulting Group and supported by the Upright Project. 

Meanwhile, Waste4Change is expected to grow even more over the next couple of years, and beyond, due to the Indonesian government’s target date of 2025 to reach its goals.

What exactly does Waste4Change do? 

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Waste4Change is currently present in more than 21 Indonesian cities, managing more than 8,000 tons of waste annually. It is already managing waste collection from more than 111 business clients and 3,450 households.

Through the organization’s growing network of partnerships, waste is collected and recycled in a responsible way, explained Sano. The collection is carried out via recycling agents and waste banks, for example, as well as directly from the client’s location.

Initial efforts at Waste4Change focused on separating inorganic waste such as plastics from organics and biodegradables. Also from the beginning, the organization has managed community-based implementation for municipalities, institutions, and tourism sites, aimed at encouraging communities to initiate action on responsible waste management programs.

Waste4Change has also partnered with the World Bank, instituted a research project on behavioral change, and established a Waste Management Academy to raise public awareness about the importance of environmental protection.

Waste4Change has started multiple programs to provide at-home composting supplies to households and deliver high-protein, organic feed for pets and farm animals. Businesses and individuals can search on the company’s website to find out which services are available in their regions.

Still, as Indonesia generates 175,000 tons of waste per day, Sano is not content to rest on the startup’s laurels. 

He said, “Over the past five years, the government has established a lot of regulation, and I see that we’re already moving in the right direction. I aspire to speed up the process. But I also believe this is a great moment to create more change because there is more willingness than ever before to do so.”

Beyond new regulations, Sano also credits the media for helping to bring attention to what he calls the “messy waste situation” in Indonesia. Stories about grotesque conditions at landfills near Jakarta and a fatal landslide in Bandung have been widely publicized over the years. Due to the growing penetration of smartphones in the nation, these horror stories are increasingly accessible to the general public.

“And yes, we at Waste4Change are also part of this ecosystem pushing the agenda of behavior change,” Sano added. As he sees things, it is now his company’s primary role to work with communities, municipalities, businesses, and tourism sites to help the government make good on its new environmental regulations.

Get the full episode for free on Spotify, Google, and Apple.

Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry taps AC Ventures’ ESG head to join task force

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AC Ventures is a leading venture capital firm investing in early-stage startups focused on Southeast Asia. We are a generational partner to founders driving positive societal change and economic impact in Indonesia and beyond.

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