By Edwin Aldrin Tan | Three years ago, my Co-Founder David Christian returned to Jakarta from Canada and was disturbed by the serious environmental and air pollution. He felt the urge to create a solution to help the environment. After some research, he was inspired to create an edible cup to replace disposable cups, and to educate people in Indonesia in a fun way about the dangers of dumping disposable cups into the ocean.
I joined to contribute my knowledge and experience in business, finance, investment and social impact. We established Evoware in 2015 and launched the edible cup, Ello Jello, in April 2016.
Reducing Water Pollution And Global Warming
About 70% of plastic waste in the oceans comes from food and beverage (F&B) packaging, most of which finds its way into the water due to their small size and low value for recycling.
By replacing disposable plastic food packaging with edible and biodegradable alternatives, we reduce our damage to the oceans and provide a nutritional food source for marine plants and animals. In addition, seaweed cultivation absorbs carbon dioxide.
One hectare of sea produces 40 tons of dry seaweed annually, absorbing 20.7 tons of greenhouse gases (calculated in carbon) each year. The short cultivation cycle of seaweed – 45 days – makes it an effective and sustainable way to improve air quality and alleviate global warming. The cultivation of seaweed does not require any land areas. We also work closely with seaweed farmers and cooperatives to maintain sustainable practices.
Social Impact In Indonesia
Seaweed farming is the main industry in five of the six poorest provinces in Indonesia. Due to oversupply, 80% of seaweed produced in Indonesia is exported to other countries at cheap prices.
Most seaweed farmers live in poverty because of borrowing from loan sharks and the long market chain of seaweed trade. Using seaweed as the raw material for our products increases the demand for seaweed and we hope to improve farmers’ well-being through fair trade.
We are now selling our products in small quantities to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for product testing on waffles, cookies, coffee, energy bars and soap.
After winning Circular Design Challenge by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (in collaboration with OpenIDEO as part one of the New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize), we have received inquiries from small and medium-sized enterprises and multinational companies locally and worldwide.
In Indonesia, people’s awareness of environmental problems is still very low. For example, they are not aware of the severely damaging effects of plastic waste and how the over-consumption of plastic can affect them.
Since manufacturers mainly still use plastics because of its low cost, our first step in changing their behavior is to give them the right information and help them rethink their consumption.
This is why we co-host events with Project Semesta about sustainability, such as Pasar Semesta (English translation: Universe Market) to educate people not only about sustainable packaging, but also sustainable food, fashion and minimalist living.
By holding movie screenings, talks and workshops, we hope to extend the impact to different people in the community and educate them about sustainability through fun and enjoyable activities.
Jakarta As A Smart City
Jakarta is well on its way to becoming a smart city. Currently, the government is working on encouraging digital entrepreneurship through incubator and mentoring programs – not only in Jakarta but in cities across Indonesia – and holding competitions for creative industries to seek new talents and young innovators.
Sadly, little effort is made to develop sustainable solutions such as smarter and cleaner energy. There also are no strict regulations proposed to hold companies responsible for the waste they produce.
About The Author
Edwin Aldrin Tan is a Co-Founder of Evoware and is responsible for business development, finance and investment areas. He has more than 10 years of experience in entrepreneurship, investment, financial management, organizational structuring and operational improvement areas.
He has advised and co-founded many social impact businesses, and enjoys helping people achieve their best self.
At the start of January 2023, a drunk man in an Air India flight’s business class urinated over a 72-year-old woman sitting beside him. The man, Shankar Mishra, was the Vice President of the financial services company Wells Fargo (he was fired following the incident). In itself, the incident is disgusting.