Jakarta start-up provides cleaning products without the plastics

A deliveryman from Siklus, a start-up company which refills household products in a bid to reduce plastic waste, arrives at a customer’s house in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 19, 2021. Picture taken May 19, 2021 REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

Just a few hours after using a mobile app to order some dishwashing liquid, Jakarta resident Juweriah opens the door to a motorbike courier who provides a direct refill in her kitchen.

Juweriah, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, is taking advantage of a rise in environmentally friendly businesses in a country that is the second-largest ocean plastic polluter in the world.

The 38-year-old homemaker orders products through Siklus, a start-up that provides cleaning and sanitary products minus plastic packaging to homes and businesses in the Indonesian capital.

“We can refill (the bottles) and reduce the amount of detergent plastic waste,” Juweriah said. “Neighbours here have followed suit.”

Siklus, launched in 2019, aims to reduce the number of products packaged in sachets, which are particularly popular among lower income communities. Siklus means “cycle” in Bahasa Indonesia.

Selling for around 800 rupiah (5 cents), single-use sachets give some of the poorest people in Asia access to everyday household essentials, but they also generate a significant amount of waste, clogging waterways and oceans.

Indonesia generates approximately 7.8 million tons of plastic waste annually, with 4.9 million tons of waste mismanaged, according to a World Bank report in May. Limited waste management collection infrastructure is one of the main problems, according to the report.

Siklus Chief Executive Jane von Rabenau, 28, said the response to the product had been positive, with the company increasing its customer base by around 15% each week.

“People have always told me ‘you’re never going to change the behaviour, Indonesians don’t care’ and I was like, I really don’t think so,” she said. “I think Indonesians across all classes they see the plastic problem, and they care about their country, they care about making it better.”

Jakarta food stall owner Husaifah was attracted to Siklus by low prices as well as its environmental credentials. Dispensing with packaging allows the company to significantly reduce end costs.

“It’s practical,” Husaifa said. “The cost is low, and we don’t have to go out, it comes to us.”


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