Octopus keeps stuff out of Indonesia’s crowded landfills

According to the World Bank, Indonesia produces 4.8 million tons of plastic waste each year that is “mismanaged”—meaning it ends up uncollected, chucked into dumpsites or leaked from improperly managed landfills. Octopus wants to reduce that number with a platform that makes it easier to collect back waste products from consumers and recycle it into raw materials that brands can reuse. The Jakarta-based startup announced today it has raised an oversubscribed round of $5 million led by Openspace and SOSV.

Octopus was founded last year by Mohammad Ichsan, Hamish Daud, Niko Adi Nugroho, Rizki Mardian and Dimas Ario, who have known each other for over a decade.

After recently launching in Jakarta, it will use its new funding for “aggressive expansion,” including five sorting facilities and 1,700 checkpoints in four cities: Jakarta, Bandung, Bali and Makassar, with the aim of handling 380 tonnes of waste, ranging from plastics to electronic appliances, each month.

Ichsan said one reason he founded Octopus was because he returned to his parents’ house in Makassar for a holiday, and found that a landfill 30 kilometers away emitted an unbearable stench, especially considering that he had a newborn daughter.

“I wondered what kind of world she’s going to live in,” he told TechCrunch. “Apparently this problem is not happening in certain cities, but also in other cities in Southeast Asia so I started to explore more of the business by doing manual waste trading and trying to solve the problem one step at a time, starting with reducing recyclable waste that ends up in landfills by doing manual waste trading.”

Around that time, Ischan met co-founder Daud, who had the same concerns and had been doing research about ocean waste.

Octopus also points to Indonesian government regulations about waste collective referred to as 3R, or “reuse, reduce, and recycle,” that are meant to reduce the amount of plastic ocean debris in the ocean by 70%. The government has reinforced these goals with initiatives like waste banks, enforcement of recycling goals for brands and producers, and a fee on plastic bags for consumers.

Octopus says that as of 2025, the Indonesian government will have spent $5.1 billion on creating a circular economy for more brands. It claims to be “the first platform to offer an end-to- end recyclable waste management logistics platform.”

The company says that over the past six months, it has grown by over 400%, with users at both ends of the supply chain. This includes 150,000 monthly users and more than 60,000 pelestari, or independent waste collectors. It claims that more than 12,000 pelestari have been able to open a bank account since joining Octopus. On the other end of the supply chain, Octopus serves more than 20 brands, including global FMCG companies who use Octopus to help meet their ESG compliance. One of its goals is to reach 100,000 pelestari by 2024.

Octopus offers two main kinds of service, said Ischan. The first one is selling post-consumer materials to the recycling industry and the second is data collection reporting for FMCG brands. For example, it help Softex Indonesia collect used diapers from consumers with proper handling standard-operating-procedures from pelestari, who operate as gig workers.

For pelestari who don’t own a mobile phone to access Octopus’ app, Ischan said the company is working with social welfare bureaus to provide phones as part of local city government programs to solve unemployment in their areas.

In a prepared statement, Openspace founding partner Shane Chesson said, “Octopus is leading the way in using technology to create a step change in the size of the circular economy in Indonesia. Participants at all stages of this supply chain are incentivized to make this happen and most importantly, environmental imperatives need us to get this right.”

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