Project – Max Collective

Sleeping pod in the tree
Sleeping pod in the tree

Indonesia, like many countries, faces the ongoing problem of waste management as municipal solid waste is increasing due to growth in consumption rates, population growth and economic growth, particularly in cities and urban areas. Lack of awareness of the importance of managing waste, compounded with inadequate waste management systems are resulting in overflowing landfill, pollution and degradation of natural resources such as waterways and farmland (Global Business Guide Indonesia 2015). For example, recent dredging of a waterway connected to a water bottling plant in Salatiga revealed a layer of compounded plastic approximately 10mm thick from inadequate waste disposal practises which resulted in plastic bags and bottles ending up in the water way (A. Lestarini 2015).

Lack of awareness and knowledge about where this waste goes, along with a lack of concern about the issue, has resulted in the majority of Indonesians disposing of all types of material, organic and inorganic, together into landfill where the sorting and recycling is unofficially dependant on waste pickers who earn a livelihood from reselling certain materials (Waste Management World 2015). One of the problems here lies in what to do with the materials that have no resell value. Items such as clear plastic bottles and metals are able to be resold to be recycled into new raw materials, but items such as plastic laundry detergent pouches and plastic food packages remain in landfill (R. Hapsari 2015). A major area of increased waste is of food packaging and household waste.

Wasted car seat covers waiting to be upcycled
Wasted car seat covers waiting to be upcycled

Retno Hapsari of XS Project believes that Indonesians have a single use and throw away culture driven by the desire to continually have newer, more prestigious products. Hapsari believes there is a stigma around reusing materials. Renowned Indonesian designer Singgih Kartono is trying to change the perception of bamboo by creating products such as a bamboo hat and bicycle, in the attempts to elevating the status of the material and create dialogue around the issues of waste and sustainable material use. By creating desirable objects from reused and sustainable materials, they’re not just reducing the impact on the environment from waste, but more importantly spreading awareness and educating the public about these issues (S. Kartono 2015).

As a response to this problem, our group has presented a new education initiative known as Max Collective (MC). MC is a NFP NGO aiming to educate young Indonesians about the national issue of waste management. The initiative is centred around changing perceptions of waste through engaging young people in design thinking workshops targeted at primary aged children.

Learning how to make paper pulp
Learning how to make paper pulp

As the inheritors of the waste problem in Indonesia, it is crucial to chance the stigma around waste products, and by teaching children ideas of upcycling, these workshops place new value on household waste. These workshops involve asking the children to collect selected common waste products over the course of approximately a month, and then holding a workshop day where the children can transform these materials into pencil holders. The workshop day involves presentations and a pencil-holder making workshop to educate and inspire the children, hopefully prompting them to bring a new, more sustainable perspective on waste management into the home.

By engaging in traditional and innovative ways of transforming this waste, such as through weaving and paper pulping, into pencil holders, these workshops not only educate youth on sorting waste, but get them intrigued and excited about their possibilities and potential. Through these workshops, MC hopes to transform the stigma surrounding waste in future generations.

Maria Papas | Eva Basford | Liam Oxley | Dehong Tay, Don

For More Information:


A. Lestarini 2015, pers. comm., 3 July

Department of Immigration 2011, Fact Sheet 1 – Immigration: The Background Part One, Canberra, viewed 5 March 2012,<

Global Business Guide Indonesia 2015, Sweeping Opportunities in Indonesia’s Waste Management Industry, viewed 11 July 2015, <;

Surabaya Eco School 2015, Profile, viewed 11 July 2015, <;

S. Kartono 2015, pers. comm., 4 July

R. Hapsari 2015, pers. comm., 10 July

R. Ardianto 2015, pers. comm., 3 July

Waste Management World 2015, Injury time for Indonesian Landfills, viewed 11 July 2015, <

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