Nature and Biodiversity

12 innovators improving the lives – and livelihoods – of Indonesia’s informal sector workers

Municipality workers unload bags of garbage collected from the shore, most of it plastics and domestic waste, during World Oceans Day, at Kali Adem Port in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 8, 2021.

Informal waste collectors play an important role in the waste management economy in Indonesia. Image: REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Gulipairi Maimaiti
Programming and Communications Specialist, Centre for the New Economy and Society, World Economic Forum
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Nature and Biodiversity?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Future of the Environment is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:


Listen to the article

  • Indonesia's waste management issue has reached an alarming scale and therefore calls for immediate action.
  • The country requires collaboration from all sides, to come up with viable action plans to tackle the problem.
  • The challenge contributes to the Indonesian government’s plan to reduce marine plastic leakage by 70% under the Indonesia National Plastic Action Partnership.

Informal waste collectors play an important role in the waste management economy. However, often their contribution is minimized or goes unrecognized by society, with low compensation and poor working conditions.

Meanwhile, a lack of transparency and traceability of plastic feedstock from the informal sector are a growing concern for large buyers of this feedstock and waste collection companies. The integration of the informal sector in Indonesia is critical to improving livelihoods and to improving the digital literacy of the informal waste collectors, and most importantly, to contribute to the NPAP Multistakeholder Action Plan goal of doubling Indonesia’s waste collection and recycling capacity.

To support this goal, Ocean Plastic Prevention Accelerator (OPPA), alongside NPAP Indonesia launched the Informal Plastic Collection Innovation in Indonesia Challenge, using UpLink, a World Economic Forum's digital platform to crowdsource solutions to the world's most pressing challenges.

OPPA is a social innovation ecosystem builder supported by The Incubation Network - a regional initiative powered by SecondMuse, The Circulate Initiative (TCI), with support from Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), and Global Affairs Canada (GAC).

The challenge called for innovations that address the following focus areas: Improving supply chain ethics, traceability & segmentation, providing access to knowledge & digital skills for informal waste workers, and elevating the visibility of the informal sector. All solutions submitted on UpLink were carefully reviewed and assessed by the community of experts from GPAP’s Advisory committee to elect the 12 cohort innovators.

The cohort will have an opportunity to share and learn from each other, with a US$5,000 grant provided to outstanding participants. The Incubation Network and the Ocean Plastic Prevention Accelerator (OPPA), with support from Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) and Global Affairs Canada (GAC), will work extensively with this group of innovators over the coming three months to refine the solutions with major stakeholders in Indonesia and develop ways to implement them more widely. In addition, NPAP Indonesia and UpLink will provide the cohort with access to UpLink events and promote their work on the Forum’s social media platforms.

Here are the 12 cohort members who have answered the call to improve the integration of the informal sector in Indonesia’s waste management economy:

Duitin Indonesia: Duitin Indonesia help people to start recycling in a fairly easy manner. it's as easy as a ride-sharing app, where the contributor will request a pickup and the picker will come over and pick it up. the contributors then will get rewards such as monetary rewards.

Have you read?

EMPOWER: Empower provides a tracking platform that digitises plastic waste and ensures that all parts of the value chain are incentivised to achieve segregation at source and traceability of the materials from collection throughout recycling.

Griya Luhu: Griya Luhu is a leading eco-preneur in changing peoples’ behaviour and awareness toward sustainable waste management by using digital technologies. They promote the integration of digital technology and community empowerment to improve waste segregation at source.

Kabadiwalla Connect Indonesia: Kabadiwalla Connect helps leverage a city’s existing informal waste infrastructure in the collection, processing and management of municipal waste-streams. Using smartphone-based data collection methods, the company is on a mission to map and enumerate stakeholders in the informal waste-supply chain in cities and towns in the Global South.

NEPRA India: One of India’s largest dry waste management companies, they aim to promote sustainability and inclusivity – for the environment, communities, and people. Their model uses innovative technologies including a software system and a mobile app to provide transparency, efficiency, and traceability along the value chain. Incorporating state-of-the-art technology, such as automated sorting, and recycling infrastructure to deliver quality material to recyclers and valuable recycled products to industry.

Octopus: Octopus is an end-to-end recyclable waste logistic platform, currently operating in six cities in Indonesia from South Sulawesi, Bali to West Java with more than 9000 waste collectors using their app. They provide a solution for recycling industries to acquire their materials with the most efficient way that involves informal sectors. Local waste collectors earns 10 times more by using their platform.

Plastic Bank Indonesia: Plastic Bank builds ethical recycling ecosystems in coastal communities, and reprocesses the materials for reintroduction into the global supply chain. Collectors receive a premium for the materials they collect which helps them provide basic family necessities such as groceries, cooking fuel, school tuition, and health insurance.

Rekosistem: Rekosistem is a responsible waste management start-up that provides a platform to improve efficiency in the waste value chain. Through their platform, they encourage consumers to participate in waste collection, help waste collection processes to be more productive, provide steady supply to recyclers, and data traceability to businesses.

Second Life Singapore: Second Life is a project developer and social enterprise in the ocean plastics recovery and recycling space, operating as part of PUR Projet. PUR Projet has been a leader in the ecosystem regeneration and nature-based solutions industry over the past 10 years, having planted over 40 million trees worldwide and with project locations in over 40 countries.

Seven Clean Seas: Seven Clean Seas (SCS) is an ocean clean-up organisation based in Singapore. Since its inception in 2018, SCS has recovered over 110,000kg of plastic pollution from the marine environment alone and is focussing on infrastructure and technology solutions to stop plastic reaching the ocean.

The Kabadiwala India: Kabadiwala is redefining the waste management value chain by bringing in efficiency, transparency and traceability in collection, segregation and recovery of recyclable waste using technology and logistics optimization. The platform helps to find and map assets that streamline the collection of post-consumer waste, schedule efficient and cost-effective pick-ups and incorporate them into the recycling network.

Trashcon India: A provider or patented technologies that drive end-to-end waste management, Trashcon India was developed with the objective of putting in place an entirely sustainable circular economy at every one of its plants. Trashcon's zero-waste system typically consists of an automated material recovery bot and 100% waste plastic recycling technology.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Nature and BiodiversityBusiness
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Ban these companies from advertising, says UN chief, and other nature and climate stories you need to read this week

Michael Purton

June 13, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum