Recycling program turns handicrafts into livelihoods

At the PT. Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper Tbk in Serang (Indah Kiat Serang ), where about 80 percent of the products are manufactured with recycled material-company leaders don’t mind at all that a small business just outside the mill has built an even better recycling track record.

In fact, Indah Kiat Serang helped Mitra Kreasi get started. And the paper mill continues to play a role in the small business’ increasing success. Since 2009, Mitra Kreasi has been making photo frames, pen holders, desk calendars, miniature ships, shopping bags and other souvenirs out of recycled materials provided by Indah Kiat Serang.

“This is one of the company’s social awareness initiatives which helps the environment and the community around the mill,” said Yusuf Suganda, community development representative from Indah Kiat Serang. “There are still many who do not have the opportunity to obtain formal employment, so the company decides to create a new business opportunity by opening this handicraft program for the community.”

Yusuf said Indah Kiat Serang’s goal for Mitra Kreasi is similar to that for other community development initiatives: “We want to empower the community by providing them the hook and not just the fish which means giving people the opportunity to make a decent livelihood,” he said.

Employees assemble their handicrafts underneath a shaded porch nestled in a courtyard surrounded by stucco houses.

“I have 10 workers who were all previously unemployed even though they are of working age,” said Yusuf. “They all come from neighborhoods in the area, and all gather here to work collectively.”

Mitra Kreasi intends to expand its customer base, but at the moment sells its products exclusively to Indah Kiat Serang’s employees.

“We have not yet reached the open market since we have been busy producing 13 different items for Indah Kiat Serang,” he said.

The most unique of Mitra Kreasi’s products may be its miniature replicas of traditional Indonesian Phinisi ships. The miniature ships are intricately detailed and made of recycled, out-of-circulation currency. Yusuf said his employees take great pride in the painstaking process of assembling these made-of-money ships.

“Our production capabilities are varied,” he said. “We can produce 100 shopping bags in a week, but it takes two weeks just to make one of these miniature ships.”

“I have been working here for one and a half years as a paper cutter,” said Yusuf. “I hope this business will continue to grow and provide the income I need, as job opportunities like this are hard to come by.”

20.02.2017 | Michael M.
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