Environment Tourism

Maldives and Indonesia ahead of the recycling curve

Cleaning up plastic in the Maldives
 
Cleaning up plastic in the Maldives.Cleaning up the plastic in the Maldives. Credit: Sarah Lee/Sarah Lee

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were getting on with weaning ourselves off single-use plastics just nicely. That all changed with the increased demand for medical supplies and personal hygiene products.

Not to mention a perception that buying food wrapped in plastic was intrinsically safer: problematic when you realise that SARS-CoV-2 can survive for up to 72 hours on plastics — far longer than on any other surface.

Let’s look at the bigger picture. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), “at least 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans every year,” threatening “food safety and quality, human health (and) coastal tourism” as well as contributing to climate change.

Devastating for the environment. And for the tourism industry which depends on it. That’s why Plastic Free July is so important for raising awareness of this problem. And why a significant number of international resorts are reaffirming their commitment to recycling plastic waste, in some cases up to 90 per cent.

Two such resorts are Soneva Fushi in the Maldives and Bawah Reserve in Indonesia.

Soneva Fushi.Soneva Fushi. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

Soneva Fushi

The Maldives has few municipal waste facilities; creating a new approach to waste is, therefore, a necessity.

Soneva Fushi banned plastic straws in 1998. In 2008, they banned imported water, saving approximately 1.5 million plastic bottles since this time. Through the Soneva Maker Programme, Soneva Fushi recycles 90 per cent of plastic waste onsite through a robust waste management strategy combined with a focus on innovation.

Soneva is the first company in the Maldives to recycle plastic into new products, using open source machines made from locally available, low-cost materials.

In February, Soneva launched the Namoona Baa Initiative to further free the Maldives from single-use plastic.

The islands of Maalhos, Dharavandhoo and Kihaadhoo in the Baa Atoll have pledged to end the open burning of island waste, in a radical shift towards eco-friendly waste management.

Each island will create an eco-centro waste-to-wealth centre that will sort, recycle and reuse island waste, with Soneva pledging funds from its Soneva Save our Seas programme to support these centres.

Recycling plastics in Kiabi.Recycling plastics in Kiabi. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

Bawah Reserve

Indonesia is the second-largest plastic waste contributor in the world. To help tackle the problem, Bawah Reserve implements a circular economy, utilising resources for as long as possible, extracting maximum value while they are usable, and recovering and regenerating when they reach their end life.

The Bawah Anambas Foundation (BAF) introduced the philosophy in 2019, teaching Kiabi village residents how to make recycled and upcycled products — including bags, bricks and soap — as part of the organisation’s Integrated Waste Management program.

BAF is now expanding the program beyond Kiabi, extending it to Telega village. In the future, BAF plans to conduct follow-up online training to improve the quality of the products in order to gain higher economic value.

Full details are available at the link below:

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