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WASTE4CHANGE Is On A Mission To Clean Indonesian Rivers, One River At A Time

Fresh and clean water is essential for humans and nature alike, and rivers have become one of the most precious sources of fresh drinking water. When rivers are polluted, our freshwater source is compromised, leading to many disastrous effects, both for our health and the environment. Unfortunately, our rivers face many threats, one of which is waste.

Rivers and Marine Debris

There is a consensus that 80% of marine debris originates from land-based resources (UNEP 2018). Water plays a crucial role in washing off unmanaged waste, mainly from households, into bodies of water like waterways and rivers, which eventually find their way to the sea. Moreover, a study in 2017 revealed that four Indonesian rivers are among the top 20 most polluting rivers in the world (Lebreton et al.)

According to a report entitled Plastic Waste Discharge in Indonesia by the World Bank in 2021, Indonesia generates approximately 7.8 million tons of plastic waste annually, and 4.9 million of it are mismanaged, namely uncollected, disposed of in open dumpsites, or leaked from overcapacity landfills.

Furthermore, an estimated 346.5 kiloton/year of plastic waste was leaked into the marine environment from land-based sources in Indonesia, two-thirds of which come from Java and Sumatra. What’s more, rivers are the ones that carry and discharge 83% of that plastic debris.

SEEHAMSTER, A Waste Cleaning Boat in Bekasi River

In response to this alarming issue, Waste4Change, PreZero / Schwarz Group, One Earth One Ocean (OEOO), and the Bekasi City Government launched SeeHamster, a German-made river-cleaning boat, to collect waste in Bekasi River, West Java. The launch of SeeHamster is a part of the Bekasi River Cleanup (BRIC) Program, which aims to collect, sort, and recycle waste from rivers in Bekasi City.


The inauguration of the waste management facility in Bekasi River was done by launching a waste-sorting facility and two SeeHamster boats back in November 2021. This event is also a continuation of the first launch of See Hamster in February 2021.

The three boats from the innovative See Hamster, which have operated in the Bekasi River, have different mechanisms from regular boats. The first SeeHamster has ramps to pull waste from the river water and the river borders. The second See Hamster is equipped with a basket that can move up and down to hold and collect waste when the boat sails through the river. The third See Hamster has conveyor belts that automatically pull debris from the water.

In addition to cooperating with the Bekasi City Government, this river cleanup program also collaborates with strategic partners such as PreZero / Schwarz Group, One Earth One Ocean (OEOO), and the Bekasi City Environmental Service, as well as the Frog Troops. With this cooperation, it is hoped that many more local and regional actors are willing to step up their efforts to clean the rivers that fall under their jurisdiction. Waste4Change welcomes any form of collaboration that aims to eliminate river waste before they end up in the oceans.

Because protecting rivers means protecting our source of fresh water and, ultimately, our livelihood. Let’s put a stop to this marine debris problem, one river at a time.

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