Indonesia is a hot bed of innovation, growth and unmatched potential in Southeast Asia. However, as a market, there are a lot of unfilled gaps in the country’s infrastructure.

One such industry ripe for disruption is waste management, due to Indonesia’s large population and a lack of proper infrastructure. To find out more, we got a chance to speak to Mohamad Bijaksana Junerosano, the CEO and co-founder of Waste4Change, a waste management platform for companies, individuals, and government agencies in Indonesia.

The company started in 2014 and has been solving waste problems to prevent leakage to the environment and to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Most recently, Waste4Change successfully secured US$5M series A funding round led by AC Ventures.

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Mohamad Bijaksana Junerosano or Sano, as he is know, has a strong environmental engineering background. He has over 16 years of maintaining two environmental organizations – Ecobali (2006) and Greeneration (2008), initiating Indonesia’s first circular economy forum, and being involved in waste management regulation formation.

He brought that same level of commitment and experience to Waste4Change, with the company benefitting from perspectives from the waste management field, renewable energy, and climate protection.

Waste4Change currently is present in 21 Indonesian cities, managing more than 8,000 tons
of waste per year. It has collected waste from 100+ B2B clients and 3,500+ households.

Waste4Change worker in the middle of the process

Congrats on the fundraise. Could you share how that would be used?

With this series A funding, Waste4Change plans to further expand its reach and increase waste management capacity up to 100 tons per day in the next 18 months and prepare to reach out to 2000 tons per day in the next 5 years. Some of the steps are:

  • Integration of digital technology in monitoring & recording of waste management flow and automation of Material Recovery Facility
  • We plan to build more partnerships with informal solid waste sectors to increase their waste management capacity. We will continue the capacity building for scavengers, waste banks, waste stalls, and waste aggregators.

Could you explain how it all works and what Waste4Change is doing differently from traditional waste management companies?

Waste4Change is a pioneer in providing end-to-end waste management solutions. Sustainability is our main focus in conducting business activities and advocating for clients. We commit to a responsible, transparent, and accountable waste management journey that is supported by technology integration and coverage improvement.

The responsible concept that highlights the traceability and sustainability of waste management practices came from our experts’ years of experience. We believe in the partnership and involvement of all the stakeholders. We are more than able to create solid collaborations in creating the best positive impacts for the environment, society, and economy.

Given the Indonesia Bersih Sampah (Indonesia Clean from Waste) 2025 program’s targets, how has this changed the government’s support for your industry?

The Indonesia Bersih Sampah (Indonesia Clean from Waste) 2025 program, which was inaugurated by Presidential Regulation of the Republic of Indonesia 97/2017, requires all parties to support the realization of 30% segregation from source and 70% recycling of waste to reduce waste that ends up in the landfill. All targets need to be achieved before the end of 2025.

The Indonesia Bersih Sampah (Indonesia Clean from Waste) 2025 program has sparked new waste management regulations from the local government and waste management initiatives from the commercial sector, hence the growing need of responsible waste management with detailed waste management reports.

Compared to what we experienced in 2014, today’s market is getting more mature. We really appreciate the big steps that the government took to further support sustainable Indonesia. We will do whatever we can to provide solutions to every waste management need.

Is there a lot of education required to scale your services across the country? What do you need to do to improve this?

Our years of experience have taught us that one of the main challenges in building a sustainable waste management system in Indonesia is the lack of education. Many people still do illegal waste burning in some rural parts of the country. Most of them still don’t know the negative implications of throwing their waste into the lake or sewage.

But the thing is, preserving the environment isn’t always about preventing waste from polluting the sea and the air. There are many aspects of waste management, there are also funding, operational, stakeholders, and institutions. Education is just the first step of preparation, the people also need a working recycling facility and waste collection system to help them manage their waste. We need to build a system that fits into the local problem and the local existing condition, so we need the local government and people to understand the urgency and move together with us.

This is the very reason why Waste4Change always prioritizes local involvement in each of our projects. We pose ourselves not only as educator or trainer but also as an advisor and friend, ready to assist our clients and beneficiaries in building a better future for their communities. This strategy allows us to hear more and, thus, opens more opportunities for us to build stronger partnerships. To reach sustainability, we need to grow together.

What’s next for Waste4Change?

Indonesia’s waste management is still growing, and we are more than ready to assist in the process. With its low 11% recycling rate, we know that there are still a lot of valuable materials ready to be involved back in the loop. People are educating themselves about waste and the environment, new startups and businesses related to waste management are emerging, and the government welcomes all stakeholders to take an active part in improving Indonesia.

We will do whatever we can to provide solutions to every waste management need. We plan to implement blended finance and project financing methods to accelerate the process. We will open opportunities for third parties and financial institutions to do joint partnerships in order to get bigger & faster positive impacts.