Merah Putih Hijau and The Zero Waste Revolution in Bali

Merah Putih Hijau is a group of passionate people kickstarting and supporting Bali villages to build, maintain, and benefit from their own waste management systems. Plastic Pollution Coalition spoke with Sean Nino Lotze founder of the company Eco-Mantra and one of the founders of the community movement Merah Putih Hijau.

What are the waste challenges facing Bali and the 763 villages?  

  • Consumer products are being pushed into the market at unprecedented speed and scale.

  • People are mixing their materials at home so that they ultimately turn into waste.

  • Separation is not being enforced on a village level.

  • Collection systems and enterprise working in and around waste/material management is informal and very poor.

  • There is very little trust in service providers.

  • Waste management players have no sense of belonging (they are informal) and are treated very poorly and have no voice.

  • Landfills are full and overflowing.

  • Illegal dumping is a result of all of the above.

What does the waste sorting look like?  

Between Mantra and MPH we have managed over 11,000 tons of materials. As more hotels and more facilities join the program and go online, more materials get redirected from going to landfill.

We reduce materials to landfill and make sure only the “real” waste goes to landfill and gets wasted.

Photos of waste sorting via Merah Putih Hijau.

Have you been able to scale the program? What do you need in order to do so?  

We are still going to wait on that. I don’t want scale to just scale, I don’t want our projects to be mainly about finance and investors. MPH is currently being funded by local hotel owners and local enterprises like Give Cafe that are donating their profits to us.

We are in need of larger donors to help us scale and build more facilities. What I have realized is that a network of functioning and community owned facilities will eventually lead to a local tipping point. The star facility managers, elevate the poor dogs, building a network of facilities is building a community of like minded individuals. Our network facility managers are well educated and goal oriented. They are working to reduce waste to landfill and keeping plastic out of the rivers.

What is your vision for the future of the program?  

We have an MOU with the Mayor of Gianyar, Bali to build 20 facilities in the coming years.  This is going to be our next milestone and focus point. Currently our program is managing 1 ton of materials for less than 20$/ton, that is 2,200 pounds for 20$.

We hope the public will understand that building functioning and cost effective infrastructure is ultimately what will keep the trash out of our landfill and out of the sea. We have the technical team and know how and we have a vision to continue building a network of MPH facilities. MPH is changing the waste management landscape to a material management landscape and we will continue expanding on these design principles because they make socio-economic and financial sense.

At the same time it is absolutely essential that the U.S. and other major resin producers really turn off the tap and reduce the amount of plastics being produced. Policy and industry need to create a thriving market for recyclables and scale down primary plastics production.

Read the MPH Q3 REPORT.

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