Nature and Biodiversity

Can Indonesia wipe out plastic pollution for good? New House on Fire podcast

Indonesia's plan to eliminate plastic pollution from its waters by 2040 is the most ambitious one yet. Image: Cristian Palmer/Unsplash

James Bray
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Plastic Pollution

  • Episode four of House on Fire looks in depth at Indonesia’s plan to wipe out plastic waste by 2040.
  • Other episodes in the podcast series focus on blue finance, direct air capture, alternative meats, shipping decarbonization and more.
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The fourth episode of House on Fire examines Indonesia’s ambitious national plan to rid itself of plastic waste within a generation. Can the world’s second-largest plastic polluter accomplish this gargantuan task, and how?

Earlier this year the Indonesian government announced some radical goals: cut plastic waste by 70% within five years, and cut it entirely by 2040. It’s the most ambitious national plan to tackle plastic pollution anywhere, and will be a closely scrutinized test case for other countries around the world.


Indonesia is the second largest plastic polluter on the planet after China, releasing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of plastic every year into its rivers and marine environment. For the world’s largest archipelago, highly dependent on tourism and fishing, this is an economic as well as aesthetic threat.

In this episode, we talk to a range of people ground in Indonesia, all of whom have roles to play in the effort to clean up the country. Activist Melati Wisjen tells us how she was motivated to act when she saw plastic pouring from a fish on the family dinner table. She and fellow campaigners Tiza Mafira and Lakota Moira have fought against plastic waste for years, resulting in plastic bag bans in a number of cities.

We also speak to musician and agroecologist Gede Robi about the revolutions each generation has to fight; and to Resa Boenard, the ‘Princess of the Dump’, who lives on Jakarta’s mountainous Bantar Gebang landfill and runs a charity for informal waste pickers. We also speak to David Christian, founder of a start-up called Evoware, about his plans to replace single-use plastic with edible seaweed derivatives.

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Listen to our sister podcasts World Vs Virus, about the global pandemic, and The Great Reset, on the efforts to "build back better" here.

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