RJ - Changing consumer behavior to reduce e-waste across Indonesia

Starting with a research question, RJ is dedicated to reducing electronic waste through normalizing recycling and, more importantly, sustainable consumption of electronics.
RJ Ewaste Indonesia
Source: Ashoka Indonesia

RJ’s venture at a glance: 

  • EwasteRJ is a venture to normalize e-waste recycling and conscious consumerism in Indonesia.  

  • EwasteRJ partners with other nonprofits in Indonesia, such as Bali Focus, ewaste4change, Earth Hour Bandung, and Turn On Your Life, to collect electronics and promote recycling. 

  • EwasteRJ partners with Teknotama Lingkungan Indonesia (TLI), a local waste management company dedicated to proper recycling, to dispose of the products the changemakers collect.  

  • Through his team of “EwasteRJ agents,” or other young changemakers, Ewaste RJ has 13 disposal sites across Indonesia (and counting) in communities like Surabaya, Makassar, and Yogyakarta. 

    Shifting attitudes and behaviors can enact a mindset shift across society, instilling a new norm for the good of all. To activate a mindset shift, changemakers feverously engage the media, nonprofit organizations, companies, the general public, and government to change a commonly held belief or assumption. RJ’s story demonstrates how young people can lead a mindset shift to protect both people and the planet. Recognizing the importance and urgency for a mindset shift around e-waste, RJ mobilizes young people to create a nation of active recyclers and conscious consumers.  

Enthusiastic about electronics and gadgets, RJ and his family collect numerous devices, but over time, each device has inevitably worn down. With a pile of electronic devices collecting in his room over the years, RJ was puzzled and curious by how to properly dispose of the electronics 

When RJ was assigned to conduct a research project at school, an idea sparked to investigate the consumption and disposal of electronic waste, or e-waste. After sharing his project with family, RJ’s grandfather was highly impressed with RJ's final report, especially since RJ was just 11 at the time. He suggested that RJ publish his research in a book, instead of just a school project, so others can learn about the increasing prevalence and impact of e-waste.  

With the help of his mother and grandfather, RJ extended his research project by conducting surveys and field trips to learn about how e-waste should be recycled in Indonesia. With the support and guidance of his mother, RJ published his first book called E-waste. The goal of the book is to make e-waste management easy to understand while appealing to children their families to be more mindful of the impact of their waste on the environment.  

Through comprehensively researching the issue, RJ learned that there is both a lack of awareness around recycling and a lack of resources for properly disposing of electronics. He was stunned by a global emphasis on plastic over other forms of waste that still cause significant environmental and human damage. If not properly disposed, e-waste contaminates the environment and contains poisonous chemicals that can harm people, such as causing neurological damage in young children. Additionally, he discovered that neither technology companies nor Indonesia’s government take responsibility for e-waste or enact regulations to manage it. To address these shortfalls, RJ installed five drop boxes at his school as well as his mother’s and grandfather’s workplace so people can properly dispose of their old or broken electronics. 

Once people started dropping off electronics for proper disposal, RJ was encouraged to launch EwasteRJ. His initial goals were to ignite an e-waste drop box movement and spread awareness about recycling. To advocate against waste, RJ formed a network of young changemakers, which he calls "EwasteRJ agents", to spread the movement to their communities by increasing access to e-waste drop boxes. Starting in RJ’s hometown of Jakarta, he now has a team of over a dozen agents across Indonesia. 

Because youth are future leaders, we are the people who will hold our nation and who will become leaders in Indonesia, so we have to start now.

However, through several months of installing drop boxes, RJ recognized that a mindset shift was necessary in order for people to change their behavior and utilize recycling resources. Using the power of local media, RJ appears on TV and radio stations and is developing a social media presence to disseminate information about recycling and encourage policy changes around e-waste. He is now publishing his second book, Sampah Baterai, specifically on battery waste, to continue building awareness around recycling. 

In one three-month period, the team collected nearly half a ton of e-waste for proper disposal. Their movement has garnered governmental support with the establishment of an electronic waste division in the Jakarta environmental office. One of RJ's next goals is to encourage companies and government to take ownership of e-waste by enacting a national “take-back program”, supported by EwasteRJ agents and other nonprofits to help change consumer behavior.  

Now 16-years old and campaigning across Indonesia, RJ empowers others, especially young people, to reduce waste by becoming more mindful consumers. RJ understands the unique position of young people to protect the environment and wants everyone to start early by taking advantage of their changemaking abilities while young. “Because youth are future leaders, we are the people who will hold our nation and who will become leaders in Indonesia, so we have to start now.”