Designing a Plastic Innovation Challenge for Informal Waste Sector Integration in Indonesia

Written by Klaus Oberbauer - Ocean Plastic Prevention Accelerator, Program Manager


Ocean plastic pollution is one of the most urgent social and environmental issues that Indonesia is facing. The  Indonesia National Plastic Action Partnership projected a 30% increase of plastic waste leakage into the country’s waterways between 2017 and 2025 - from 620,000 tonnes per year to an estimated 780,000 tonnes per year.


Plastic leakage is a “wicked problem” that requires multiple stakeholders to collaborate and accelerate more effective solutions. Despite ambitious efforts to bring stakeholders together, two major hurdles remain. 1) ocean plastic leakage prevention is inherently complex and multi-sectoral in nature. 2) relevant stakeholders often hold different knowledge, expertise, and perspectives, making it challenging to arrive to a consensus.


To respond to these issues, the Indonesia National Plastic Action Partnership (NPAP) with the World Economic Forum, UpLink and the Ocean Plastic Prevention Accelerator (OPPA) by SecondMuse, launched the Informal Plastic Collection Innovation Challenge (IPCIC) to source innovative solutions for integrating the informal sector in Indonesia’s waste management economy, leading to increased capacity of and working conditions for informal workers.


Recognizing that ocean plastic issues cannot be solved by a lone commercial or social organization, IPCIC aimed to identify the most impactful change areas and to establish promising partnerships between innovators and relevant commercial, social, or public stakeholders, aiming to better integrate informal sector waste collection efforts into a systemic solution.


The multi-stakeholder innovation challenge took months to design. To find the most impactful levers in addressing ocean plastic issues, and to enable meaningful and effective stakeholder collaboration, OPPA utilized the Digital Delta crowdsourced mapping survey process, which is an evidence-based data analysis method developed by SecondMuse to identify root causes for social change, and design scalable interventions.


OPPA and NPAP jointly distributed the survey to a diverse group of stakeholders including representatives of large multinational companies, community waste collection organizations, NGOs, and academics. The goal was to, with the stakeholders’ knowledge and expertise, identify a set of root factors, essentially factors that stakeholders believe would drive the improvement of the waste collection capacity and integration of the informal sector most effectively.


The survey collected results from 83 respondents with 6,136 votes on the most important “root factors.” The results confirmed some of OPPA’s prior insights into the informal sector, but also yielded unique, novel discoveries about the most promising root factors for change.











For example, digital literacy of informal sector workers emerged as a key root factor driving better informal sector integration, which was an unexpected result. A reason for this perception may be that increased understanding of digital tools among informal waste workers has the potential to improve their capacity to handle plastic waste more effectively, increase their access to government and other services, and enable the monitoring of ethical practices in informal plastic waste management operations.


Social innovators are no stranger to the understanding that large and complex social issues need multi-stakeholder participation and system-level solutions. The Digital Delta crowdsourced mapping survey has been highly useful in aligning perspectives from various waste stakeholders on the most important issues around informal sector integration. Results of the survey have also paved the way for impactful collaborations which are currently improving Indonesia’s informal waste sector .




The Informal Plastic Collection Innovation Challenge is a collaboration between The Indonesia National Plastic Action Partnership with World Economic Forum, UpLink and the Ocean Plastic Prevention Accelerator, a social innovation ecosystem builder supported by The Incubation Network - regional initiative powered by SecondMuse, The Circulate Initiative, The Alliance to End Plastic Waste, and Global Affairs Canada.