Secrecy at the end of the recycling chain: The recycling of plastic waste in Surabaya, Indonesia

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The aim of this article is to address the question: Why companies which produce or use pellets made from recycled plastics choose a strategic invisibility for their activities. The recycling of plastics is a process spread over an extended recycling supply chain. The negative stigma associated with recycled plastic in Indonesia is directed away from the factories towards the waste-pickers, junk-dealers and grinders who work the waste manually from which the recycled plastic is selected. Their remoteness from the source not only allows the factories to shake off the opprobrium of working with waste, they can also distance themselves from what goes on earlier in the supply chain. They are not held accountable for possible environmental or social mismanagement in the sorting of plastic waste. The factories, nevertheless, manage to maintain control over this supply chain by setting standards for the materials they accept. The factories have the power to declare which supplier is up to standard and which is not, and have the alternative of opting for virgin plastic made from mineral oil, which keeps prices of recycled plastic low. This conspicuous invisibility is convenient for all involved in the recycling industry in the short run, but more openness would be better for all sides.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalWorldwide Waste: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies
Issue number1
Early online date8 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • recycling; value chain; supply chain; plastic waste; Indonesia; production of recycled plastics


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