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Bintang Sejahtera Waste has won the UID UN SDSN Sustainable Solutions for a Better World Award for its community-based waste management system.

An initiative of the Sustainable Development Solutions (SDSN) Southeast Asia network hosted by United in Diversity (UID), this award program was designed to recognize, encourage, and support the best sustainable development solutions in Indonesia. It promotes multi-sectoral solutions that address a critical environmental and societal challenge while ensuring that the employed business model provides financial stability and dynamic benefits to the local community.

The winning program was created by Bintang Sejahtera. He was raised locally in a small island province where his mother and father made a living by collecting discarded plastic in exchange for a small payment. Realizing that there was a growing need to address the plastic waste issue across Indonesia’s pristine beaches, Bintang created a community-managed business through which discarded plastics are collected and amassed to turn “trash into cash.”

By establishing a chain of “waste banks,” Bintang empowers the local community to participate in the clean-up process and gives them an opportunity for gainful employment in a community where there is rampant unemployment. The results are phenomenal: The waste management system processes up to 28 tons of inorganic waste and 25 tons of organic waste every month and awareness-building activities, trainings, and business coaching account for more than half of the company’s profit.

The award was presented during the International Conference on Sustainable Tourism (ICST), held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on 1 November. As the winner, Bintang received Rp 300 million ($30,000 USD) through the generous support of the Gajah Tunggal Group. He and two other finalists will also receive mentoring support from UID’s IDEAS alumni.

The other finalists, selected from more than 80 programs, were:

  • Krakakoa Chocolates for their work in improving the lives and incomes of smallholder cocoa farmers. By refining the quality of the cocoa produced by the local supply chain through intensive training, Krakakoa Chocolates aims to more equally distribute value to the local market in Indonesia (the third-largest producer of cocoa beans in the world) versus exporting to international processors and distributors.
  • Mothers of Light for empowering local women to start their own businesses bringing solar lights to remote Indonesian villages. With millions of Indonesians living in energy poverty, access to renewable or distributed energy sources can mean the difference between a 12-hour and 18-hour day. The company uses a consignment business model to distribute solar lamps across the region, while many of Indonesia’s remote villages wait years for access to a national grid.

Local media coverage of the awards:

Tribunnews (article)

Tribunnews (photo gallery)

Merdeka

Kabar24

Berita Satu