Can a Big Plastic Producer actually be a force for Good?

in environment •  last month

It's been an incredible last few days visiting the city of Semarang, Indonesia, where Ani and I led an Ecobrick training of trainer workshop. The two day in-depth event was sponsored by Marimas, one of Indonesia's largest food manufacturers (and thus plastic packaging makers). I've been pretty cynical in the past about such big companies, their 'green' efforts and their black environmental impact. When we first got the invite, a shadow passed over my initial enthusiasm when I heard it was a big food package producer.

However, the cynicism scattered like clouds on the burst of a sunny Spring day.

The Training of Trainers was truly a luminous coming together of people working from the heart. Not only did the CEO make a point of greetings us upon our arrival, he joined us for the entire morning of our first day of the T o T. Pak Harjanto, the humble head honcho, sat down in the conference room with all the participants the first day. I was blown away when his family joined too-- his wife, daughter and son all participated in the workshop too. Afterwards, we shared some beautiful meals talking about the challenges of culture, business, socialization... And of course, plastic.


It was deeply humbling to meet folks from a Big Company, and discover they were just as heart sick about plastic as I, and just as commuted to find solutions.
Just as it is near impossible for regular folks to go about a day without using or consuming plastic, the same thing for Marimas-- it's near impossible for them not to use plastic-- there are no other viable options but to use plastic to pack their products and compete in the industry.

Making this acknowledgement isn't an excuse to continuing consuming and manufacturing plastic-- it is simply an existential acceptance of this particular moment of our place in the civilizational and consciousness evolution as a species. Afterall, any technology (i.e plastic) is simply a reflection of the stage of consciousness that generated it (think of the stone, bronze and Iron Age). These days, we are most decidedly in the plastic age. And we are all in it together.

Only once we acknowledge where we are, can we truly move on.


And move on we are! Marimas, with their resources, network, facilities, and staff were in a unique position to pull together a wham-bang awesome Training of Trainers. They managed to bring together a full house of over 40 Semarang community leaders. The top-notch Marimas staff were able to assist in manifesting one of the smoothest run training of trainers we've ever done. The conversations and insights amongst us and our new team were inspired. And indeed, the foundation is now laid for a game changing collaboration between the Global Ecobrick Alliance, a national food producer and the leaders and organizations that make up our new team. Like the Ying and yang symbol reminds us-- there's always a spot of light in the dark. A big plastic producer can make set a luminous example!


I am am really excited!

We're poised to develop the Indonesia's first fully cradle-to-cradle plastic packaging with our new friends at Marimas-- and put to the test our long work on the Ecobrick Designator Icon. Heck, it's probably going to be a world's first.

It's a lesson from the wisdom of Ying and Yang-- as applied to plastic. In the midst of the problem one finds the seed of the solution, while the deep solution, always embraces the problem.

Within a year I can see the other Indonesian corporations following suit, and the transition to cradle to cradle Ecobrickable packaging going viral.

Stay posted... A new story is unfolding!

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