Project STOP: city partnerships to prevent ocean plastics in Indonesia

Boy on high leakage beach

By Martin R. Stuchtey Managing Partner, SYSTEMIQ, Professor for Resource Strategy and Management, University of Innsbruck, Innovation Lab for Sustainability ;
Ben Dixon Partner, SYSTEMIQ ;
Joi Danielson Program Director, SYSTEMIQ ;
Jason Hale Scaling, Director, SYSTEMIQ ;
Dorothea Wiplinger, Sustainability Manager, Borealis ;
Phan Bai, Business Development Director, Veolia.

An estimated 80% of marine plastic litter comes from land-based sources, with 50% originating from just five Asian economies: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand1. As economic growth has increased in these countries, so has plastic consumption, which has outpaced the development of effective solid waste management systems. That is why the fi rst STOP city partnership was launched in 2018 in Muncar, a city of 130,000 residents in Banyuwangi Regency, East Java, Indonesia. The goal of Project STOP is to create an economically viable “zero leakage” system that involves state-based systems, communities and the informal sector, and that can be sustained through secure government revenues, household and business collection fees and valorization of waste.

Project STOP has three objectives: zero leakage of waste into the environment; increased resource effi ciency and recycling of plastics; and benefi ts for the local community by creating new jobs in the waste management system and reducing the impacts of mismanaged waste on public health, tourism and fisheries.

Early insights from Project STOP’s scoping activities, system design and first six months of system change implementation are presented in three areas: 1) An integrated “value chain engineering” approach is key to system change, 2) Institutions, governance and community factors are critical, 3) Economic incentives are a great tool to develop recycling initiatives.

Action-innovation partnerships at the city level – Project STOP and many others – can provide much-needed insight into the challenges and potential solutions that could accelerate change toward a plastic system that works, and an environment free from plastic waste.


1 Jenna R. Jambeck et al., “Plastic Waste Inputs from Land into the Ocean,” Science 347, no. 6223 (2015): 768–71, doi:10.1126/science.1260352.