In this discussion, we will critically explore the different journeys of discarded plastic. Departing from recent research published by the Plastic Soup Foundation (an NGO in Amsterdam), we will explore the global implications of the waste industry (focusing on mixed-plastics). Such an important reflective journey starts afar from the places in which plastic waste accumulates. It is paramount to understand the glocal (=global and local) implications of this multi-billion dollar industry, as it sits at the core of environmental crises and climate change. Our conversation transcends the walls of the academe and engages with activism dealing with plastic waste in Indonesia. At the same time, this conversation will also include a short introduction to paramount concepts such as ‘waste colonialism’ and ‘environmental racism’. These words are not new (neither conceptually nor in practice) but they are often censored, dismissed, ignored or misunderstood. We believe that more critical approaches to the value chain of plastic waste can lead to increased awareness, and more coherent calls for transparency and accountability.
Elena Burgos Martinez is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Politics at the department of Area Studies, Leiden University. Her academic career started in geology and ended up in environmental anthropology. At Leiden University she teaches PhD, MA and BA courses about political ecology, ecofeminism, research methods in the study of waste and decolonisation in academia. Her research is focused on centring non-anthropocentric human-environment relations in the Capitalocene. She works in conversation with maritime and intertidal peoples and places. In her research, you can find her around rocks and seaweed fields, particularly in Eastern Indonesia.
Ayu Pawitri is a managing director of Get Plastic, a non-profit Indonesian organization that aims to develop a system for managing and processing plastic waste into energy.
Maria Sucia is a social entrepreneur and consultant working with Daur Resik an Indonesian organisation combating plastic pollution through education and action.