Citarum River Transformation: A villages-scale plastic waste pilot

September 21st, 2023

The challenge 

The Citarum River in West Java, Indonesia is one of the world’s most polluted rivers. However, more than 25 million people rely on the river for drinking water, farming, fishing, energy and ecotourism.  

Our response 

Together with Monash University (Monash’s Citarum Action Research Program), Universitas Indonesia, Universitas Padjadjaran, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science, we are collaborating with community groups to co-design two village-scale waste and recycling facilities. 

Villagers search for recyclable waste as they stand on top of floating garbage covering the Citarum river in Bandung, West Java province in Indonesia. (Timur Matahari / AFP Photo).

The project brings together a diverse team of researchers with expertise in urban design, landscape architecture, engineering, sustainability transitions, and social and political, geology, polymer and marine sciences, to understand the challenges and develop to solutions from multiple perspectives. 


Our research will create a facility that improves the health of the environment, meets the needs of the local community, and generates business and employment opportunities through reprocessing plastic waste. Overall, it aims to improve waste services, abate waste leakage and empower communities. 

This work is supported by an Indo-Pacific Plastics Innovation Network (IPPIN) grant. 

Senior Principal Research Scientist