Climate Finance | January 13, 2022

Circulate Capital aims to build plastic waste recycling infrastructure in underserved Indonesia

Roodgally Senatus
ImpactAlpha Editor

Roodgally Senatus

ImpactAlpha, January 13 — Indonesia generates around 7.8 million tons of plastic waste annually. 4.9 million tons of plastic waste is mismanaged — uncollected, disposed of in open dumpsites or leaked from improperly managed landfills.

While there are plastic waste management and recycling infrastructure in place in Indonesia’s main population centers, those solutions have yet to reach coastal communities in the country’s more than 17,000 islands that are experiencing high levels of plastic pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Prevented Ocean Plastic Southeast Asia, a partnership between Singapore-based impact fund Circulate Capital and global recycling companies Bantam Materials and Polindo, is on a mission to expand plastic waste recycling infrastructure to underserved communities in Indonesia. 

The company secured an undisclosed investment from Circulate’s $106 million Capital Ocean Fund. The capital will support a network of new waste collection centers in Indonesia’s underserved coastal communities. The goal: to help prevent more than 400,000 tons of plastic from entering the ocean, and avoid 800,000 tons of carbon, while creating 1,000 direct jobs for local waste workers and income opportunities for thousands of bottle collectors over the next decade.

“The reality of trying to collect plastic waste across 17,000 islands has compounded the plastic pollution crisis in Indonesia — there are just too many logistical challenges and complexities within the recycling value chain,” said Circulate’s Rob Kaplan. “This project has the potential to be a blueprint for best-in-class recycling and circular economy infrastructure across Southeast Asia.”

Circulate, a spinoff of recycling investment fund Closed Loop Partners, is on a mission to prevent the flow of plastic waste in the world’s oceans, while advancing a zero-carbon circular economy in emerging markets. Last year, the firm launched Circulate Capital Disrupt to target “upstream” innovations in materials, packaging and delivery methods that cut plastic waste.