Waste4Change is building a circular economy in Indonesia • TechCrunch
Even the biggest landfill in Indonesia is at (or near) capacityand the government has set an ambitious goal of reducing waste by 30% by 2025. Waste4Change is one company that wants to help by increasing recycling rates and enabling better waste management. The startup, which currently manages more than 8,000 tons of waste in a year, announced today that it has raised $5 million in Series A funding, co-led by AC Ventures and PT Barito Mitra Investama.
Other participants in the round include Basra Corporation, Paloma Capital, PT Delapan Satu Investa, Living Lab Ventures, SMDV and Urban Gateway Fund. Founded in 2014, Waste4Change has achieved a CAGR of 55.1% since 2017 and is present in 21 Indonesian cities, where the company’s services are currently used by around 100 B2B customers and more than 3,500 households.
Waste4Change was created by founder and CEO Mohamad Bijaksana Junerosano based on conversations between PT Greeneration Indonesia, an NGO, and waste management organization PT Bumi Lestari Bali (ecoBali) to establish a company that minimizes the amount of waste that goes to landfills. Junerosano is a trained environmental engineer with 16 years of experience in the solid waste industry.
Junerosano says the big opportunity is created by Indonesia’s low recycling rate (around 11% to 12%), which means a lot of valuable recycled materials are being left behind.
“Waste reduction is the top priority, followed by material optimization and recycling, supporting the concept of a true circular economy,” he told TechCrunch.
Waste4Change will use the new funding to expand and increase its waste management capacity to 100 tons per day over the next 18 months, with a goal of reaching more than 2,000 tons per day in the next five years.
Junerosano says Waste4Change differentiates itself from traditional waste management solutions by providing an end-to-end solution with a focus on sustainability and zero waste. Part of the strategy includes more digital integration to track and document waste management and automate its material recovery facilities.
“We see digital integration as a valuable tool for building a sustainable waste management ecosystem,” he said. “The goal has always been to create harmony between environment, economy and people.” Waste4Change’s digital integration strategy this year and next includes improving the reporting and tracking of the waste journey that customers receive after their trash is disposed of.
To use Waste4Change, customers can request a collection of trash to collect their pre-sorted trash or dispose of them themselves. The company currently has 108 employees and 141 waste management operators, with plans to add 52 more to its team and works with 300 informal waste collectors and SMEs. Informal waste collectors include scavengers, waste banks, garbage counters, and garbage collectors.
For recycling business partners, including informal waste collectors, Waste4Change is building a platform to help them sell and buy solid waste with the company. The aim is to increase the traceability and accuracy of the waste management process. It is also running a program called Send Your Waste, where consumers can send waste to Waste4Change pickup points. An app tells them what kind of trash to send, where is the nearest pick-up point, and what kind of rewards they can get.
Junerosano says informal garbage collectors tend to be selective about what materials they collect, choosing PET bottles, glass and cardboard. But this means that less desirable materials such as PP, laminated packaging and foam are often left behind, polluting the environment. To combat that, Waste4Change has started a service called Waste Credit, which offers incentives for picking up certain materials and also makes it easy for garbage collectors to build this business.
“Considering the important role the informal sector plays in improving Indonesia’s recycling rate, we aim to build a waste recycling platform that will keep the system sustainable,” he said. “We are happy to bring it to life with a joint venture or joint operation with other industry stakeholders, including those in the informal sector and temporary waste storage sites at local Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (3R).”
In a statement, AC Ventures founding partner Pandu Sjahrir said, “Waste4Change is a pioneer in providing end-to-end waste management solutions. Sustainability is the main focus of the group, with a demonstrated commitment in building a better future for Indonesia. The company is demonstrating that it has hit the right product-market and has the potential to scale nationally. “