Solution to Pre-existing Issue by
Lighthouse

Solution to Pre-existing Issue / Published January 15, 2017 by Otilingam Sivakumar Premanand

Otilingam Sivakumar Premanand

Solution to Pre-existing Issue

The focused problem I achieve to solve is the catastrophically harmful plastic pollution in Indonesia, especially in the notorious Citarum River located in West Java. It is massive in size, as it spans 300 kilometers and is the third longest river in Java, followed by Brantas and Bengawan Solo river. Furthermore, it is the source of life and food for the inhabitants near the river. In its former pristine condition, it was considered as one of the places where early human civilization flourished and thrived, especially in the 4th Century and earlier. The Citarum River was the main source of clean water supply, hydroelectricity, sewerage, agriculture, and many other life-sustaining activities.

However, as time progressed and globalization covered all four corners of the earth, man’s greed for comfort, ease and money rapidly grew, hence local inhabitants desecrated the life-providing river, and started polluting it with mainly plastics. Due to the cheapness of plastics, the local near the river started disposing their waste plastic products in the river, and because of the Non-biodegradable property of today’s petroleum-based plastics, the plastic that were disposed floated everlastingly in the river. Moreover, to make the situation worse nearby textile factories in Cimahi and Bandung routed their toxic waste to this river for disposing their bulk amount of waste byproducts. The waste that were disposed by the companies includes dangerous mercury, arsenic, lead and other harmful toxins.

Subsequently, to emphasize this catastrophic issue to the Indonesian government and people of the world, the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) measured the amount of plastics in the Citarum River several times. They concluded that the increase in plastic litter is significantly growing, as when the difference between the result of the testing between 1994 and 2008, is a massive 126% increase in waste. They also found out that the in 2008 the top 3 items that was found in the river were “cigarette butts, plastic bags, and plastic food wrappers/containers” (Lytle). To wrap it all up, the total plastic waste floating in the Citarum River is approximately 187 million tons and it is constantly rising (Vaessen).

The situation reached its climax on late 2008, when the Asian Development Bank declared the river as the world’s dirtiest river, and provided a loan of $500 million just for cleaning revitalizing the severely contaminated river. Moreover, the whole cleaning process costed $4 billion (Rp 35 trillion), and thought huge funding were provided by the government, the river is not fully cleaned, even until today. After analyzing and filtering the trash disposed in the river, it was justified that the huge magnitude of this issue was mainly caused by petroleum- based plastics. This massive and continuous littering was not only caused by uneducated locals near the river, but also educated companies and industries.

Therefore, through this project, local ecosystems can be preserved due to the harmless, biodegradable nature of the bioplastics being produced. Moreover, the aforesaid persistent issue in Citarum River could be solved/tacked through the dispersion and distribution of cost-efficient bioplastics to local communities via the project.