Not only crystalline sea and unpolluted waters. Indonesia is known to the media all over the world as being the country that produces more marine plastic pollution than any other country except China. Waste management systems are rudimentary and each year millions of tonnes of waste end up in waterways and the ocean.
Last year the country pledged US$1 billion to cut its marine waste by 70% by 2025. An ambitious goal that requires not only the locals to be educated on environmental issues, but also a substantial improvement in waste management that involves also swapping plastics for biodegradable options.
The idea of the start-up Evoware, which has been founded to produce 100% biodegradable seaweed-based packaging, is intended precisely to this end: its packages have 2 years of shelf life, dissolve in water and are edible.
Currently, most bioplastics derive from sources related to the food industry, including corn, sugarcane and cassava. However, according to Bakti Berlyanto Sedayu, a researcher with the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, seaweed is a far more sustainable alternative, it is cheap to produce as it is cultivated offshore, grows quickly and does not require fresh water or chemicals to grow successfully.
Sedayu argues it might take just 5 to 10 years to bring the production of bioplastics up to an industrial scale, though this would require careful management. Moreover, the production of seaweed, if organised according to sustainability principles, may have a positive social impact on the environment, providing means of livelihood for Indonesian farmers, who still live in conditions of extreme poverty.