The province of Jakarta is an ever-growing urban jungle confronting a serious plastic pollution problem. A key contributing factor to this issue appears to be the city’s universal lack of access to safe, potable water.
With groups from all socio-economic backgrounds unable to drink the tap water available, Jakarta's residents have developed a strong reliance on plastic bottles.
High-density commercial and residential spaces, as well as societal norms surrounding waste disposal further add to the immense volume of plastic entering waterways, roads and paths.
Suhaimah Irbah, an Indonesian university student, says bottled water is a daily necessity for all residents, even those with secure housing.
“Even in houses you have to buy a bottle of water because the water in your home is not good enough to drink, so you just buy it in the supermarket.”
Suhaimah says habit and convenience also lead many people to opt for single use plastic bottles.
“We use lots of plastic because it’s our culture maybe…we use plastic for daily activities like to put our food (in), to put our drink (in)...”
“Because it’s easy to find first and it’s cheap and we don’t usually bring bottled water from our home…so we just buy it from supermarkets.”
The Beverage Marketing Corporation reported that in 2015, Indonesia had the fourth highest consumption of bottled water, using an estimated 6.815 billion gallons in that one year with an annual growth rate of 12.2%.
Indomaret is an Indonesian chain of convenience stores selling its own brand of bottled water in addition to other popular choices, such as Aqua and Nestle.
Mukhamad Imron, an employee of the Cikini Jakarta store, says plastic water bottles are one of the store's best-selling items.
Mr Imron says he estimates 300 bottles of various sizes would be sold each day in his store alone.
After these plastic items are used, however, many are discarded into waterways, roads and pedestrian paths, either directly or through poor waste management.
Mr Ibrahim works as part of this division and has the responsibility of cleaning the geographical zone spanning from Cikini station to the end of the Jalan Cikini road. Every day he follows this stretch of road collecting waste – primarily plastic bags, wrappers and bottles.
Standing beside the roadside in the bright orange shirt his division is known, for Mr Ibrahim says “from Cikini Station to Cikini Raya we get … 4 kilograms of plastic bottles a day.”
“That’s just one day,” he said.