Turning the Tide on Plastic Pollution in Bali

Ocean Health

Turning the Tide on Plastic Pollution in Bali

Even the world’s most beautiful and natural ecosystems are being bombarded with marine debris. Work with scientists and local communities in Bali to find real-world solutions.

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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

The plastic crisis is having an overwhelming effect on coastal communities and ecosystems.

In this project, scientists are testing a new waste management system that aims to reduce the amount of plastic debris entering the ocean.

The world’s oceans are filled with an awe-inspiring and devastating array of plastic pollution. Everything from candy wrappers to industrial fishing nets have been found floating in the oceans, one of the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems on the planet. This pollution ends up in the ocean when it is “mismanaged”—or improperly disposed—which can happen for a variety of reasons ranging from littering due to lack of education, or to a national-level lack of accessible recycling and waste processing facilities. Southeast Asia, and Indonesia in particular, is struggling to deal with the plastic pollution problem, as waste management infrastructure is often flawed or non-existent in this area. While the plastic waste threatens biodiversity, fisheries, tourism, and ultimately livelihoods, there is no simple solution.

Indonesia has a population of over 260 million people who are dispersed over 17,000 islands. Creating a comprehensive waste management infrastructure is a herculean task. To combat this issue, Earthwatch has teamed up with The Plastic Collective, an organization that has launched The Shruder program in Bali. This program disperses small portable recycling machines, called Shruders, and hosts training classes on the machines and how to create circular economies from the waste plastics. The Shruders allow locals to shred plastic, enabling them to either sell the waste more efficiently to larger recyclers or melt it into new products they can sell.

While a small portable waste management plan seems ideal for Indonesia, its effectiveness must be tested before it can be rolled out to more communities. The aim of this project is to determine what effect the Shruder has on plastic pollution in Indonesian villages and how effective the accompanying community training program is on reducing waste in public places. Understanding how to implement effective waste management will help local governments to address one of the most pressing problems facing our oceans today.

Turtle caught in a plastic net

About the research area

Les village, Bali, Indonesia, Indonesia, Asia

Daily life in the field


This is a summary:

The Scientists


Marine Ecologist, Southern Cross University

ABOUT Steve Smith

Dr Steve Smith is the Director of Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre, Coffs Harbour, Australia. His main research focus is on the measurement, monitoring and management of marine biodiversity, which includes assessment of human impacts. Over the past decade, in response to its increasing prevalence, Steve has devoted much of his research effort to documenting the impacts of marine debris, delivering most of his programs through close collaboration with citizen scientists. Steve uses the information generated by his research to inform management decisions, providing an advisory role from local to national levels of government.


Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food


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