According to the World Bank, Indonesia produces 4.8 million tons of plastic waste every year which is “poorly managed– meaning it ends up not being picked up, thrown into landfills, or leaked from improperly managed landfills. Octopus wants to reduce that number with a platform that makes it easier to recover waste products from consumers and recycle them into raw materials that brands can reuse. The Jakarta-based startup announced today that it has raised a $5 million oversubscribed round led by Openspace and SOSV.
Octopus was founded last year by Mohammad Ichsan, Hamish Daud, Niko Adi Nugroho, Rizki Mardian and Dimas Ario, who have known each other for over ten years.
Having recently launched in Jakarta, it will use its new funding for “aggressive expansion”, which will include five sorting facilities and 1,700 checkpoints in four cities: Jakarta, Bandung, Bali and Makassar, aiming to process 380 tons of waste ranging from plastic to electronic devices, every month.
Ichsan said one of the reasons he founded Octopus was because he returned to his parents’ home in Makassar for a vacation, only to find that a landfill 30 kilometers away gave off an unbearable stench, especially considering he had a newborn daughter. had.
“I wondered what kind of world she’s going to live in,” he told australiabusinessblog.com. “Apparently this problem isn’t happening in certain cities, but also in other cities in Southeast Asia, so I started to explore more of the company by manually trading waste and solving the problem step by step, starting with reducing recyclable waste that ends up in landfills through manual waste trading.”
Around that time, Ischan met co-founder Daud, who had similar concerns and had researched ocean debris.
Octopus also points to Indonesian government regulations on waste collectively referred to as 3R, or “reuse, reduce and recycle”, which are intended to reduce the amount of plastic ocean waste in the ocean by 70%. The government has reinforced these goals with initiatives such as waste banks, enforcement of recycling targets for brands and manufacturers, and a plastic bag compensation for consumers.
Octopus says the Indonesian government will have spent $5.1 billion by 2025 on creating a circular economy for more brands. It claims to be “the first platform to offer an end-to-end logistics platform for recyclable waste management.”
The company says it has grown by more than 400% in the past six months, with users at both ends of its supply chain. This includes 150,000 monthly users and more than 60,000 pelestari, or independent waste collectors. It claims that more than 12,000 pelestari have been able to open a bank account since joining Octopus. At the other end of the supply chain, Octopus serves more than 20 brands, including global FMCG companies that use Octopus to meet their ESG compliance. One of the goals is to reach 100,000 pelestari by 2024.
Octopus offers two types of service, Ischan said. The first is the sale of post-consumer materials to the recycling industry and the second is data collection reporting for FMCG brands. For example, Softex Indonesia helps to collect used diapers from consumers with proper handling of pelestari’s standard operating procedures, acting as gig workers.
For pelestari who don’t have a cell phone to access Octopus’s app, Ischan said the company is working with social welfare agencies to provide phones as part of local city government programs to solve unemployment in their areas.
In a prepared statement, Shane Chesson, founder of Openspace, said: “Octopus is at the forefront of using technology to incrementally change the scale of the circular economy in Indonesia. Participants at all stages of this supply chain are encouraged to to make this possible and, most importantly, environmental requirements need us to do this right.”