Plastic Exchange for Nusa Lembongan

Plastic Exchange for Nusa Lembongan

Plastic Exchange for Nusa Lembongan

The Lembongan Traveller is thrilled to be partnering with the team behind Plastic Exchange for Nusa Lembongan.  We recently caught up with, Nagi owner of Ombak Zero Café, and founder of this wonderful initiative. Here is an overview of the process, their plans and how YOU too can help the Lembongan community.

The Plastic Exchange initiative in Nusa Lembongan started in February 2021 with two main goals in mind:

  • to clean up the island
  • help feed the community

The concept is two-fold, very simple, and immediately effective.

Step 1:

With donations from businesses and/or individuals, a large quantity of basic food provisions is purchased.

Step 2:

Members of the community collect rubbish from their home compounds, roads and rivers in their village, and bring their collections to the neighborhood “banjar” (meeting area) to be weighed. Each category of trash has a ratio for kilograms of trash to kilograms of rice distributed in return.

For example, single use plastic items that are harder to collect and weigh lighter have a 3 kilogram plastic to 1 kilogram rice ratio, in comparison to glass bottles that have a ratio of 10 kilogram of glass to 1 kilogram of rice.

The plastic is valued by kilogram, and paid out in provisions.


The village environment is cleaned and the villagers can earn their staple foods—a win-win.


Why we need your help

Nusa Lembongan heavily relies on tourism, so when COVID-19 hit over a year ago, almost everyone lost their jobs. From tour guides, restaurant workers, house keepers, surf coaches, dive instructors, boat captains to business owners. This resulted in many locals going back to what the island was originally known for, seaweed farming.

How seaweed farming fits into the mix

The island was quieter but everyone was busy seaweed farming to gain a little bit of income. The smell of the seaweed came back to Jungut Batu village, and more of the coastline was filled with seaweed farms. Now the channel between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan is covered with seaweed stakes and famers.

However, the income that comes from farming is nowhere near what many received from their previous jobs in the tourism sector. 1 kilogram of dried seaweed is sold for Rp 15,000/kg, which is equivalent to about 8 kilogram of wet seaweed. It takes around 20 to 30 days to harvest one round. An average family is required to harvest around 700 kilogram of dry seaweed per cycle in order to cover their food expenses, and more if they need to pay for school fees, ceremonies, etc. That does not even take into consideration the starting seed money, the set up of the farms, the long lines of rope to tie the seaweed and the stakes.

Seaweed farming is not enough
Our island has become known for the seaweed farming on social media. However in the last couple of months, the farmers have not been able to harvest seaweed due to large waves, pests and inconsistent water temperature. So now we are in a situation where people have lost their jobs, and lost their seaweed farms.
Locals rely on the Plastic Exchange program to feed their families

Many locals have become heavily reliant on the Plastic Exchange program to feed their families. Every month we conduct the exchange, the number of participants, trash and rice distributed doubles or even triples.

Where does all the recyclables go?
Lembongan Recycling takes all the collected trash back to their facility and further processes the trash. All the plastic is shredded, compacted and sent to Bali to be recycled into new products. The money that Lembongan Recycling collects when they sell the raw recyclables is used to pay the Lembongan Recycling team and the remaining is used to purchase rice for the following exchange.
 Here are the results so far:

February 2021

  • 915 kilogram rubbish collected
  • 206 kilogram of rice distributed

March 2021

  • 1873 kg of rubbish collected
  • 360 kg of rice distributed

April 2021

  • 1502 kg of rubbish collected
  • 306 kg of rice distributed

May 2021

  • 3620 kg of rubbish collected
  • 632 kg of rice distributed

June 2021

  • 8000 kg of rubbish collected
  • 1580 kg of rice distributed

July 2021

  • 24,700 kg of rubbish collected
  • 2500 kg of rice distributed

The Plastic Exchange program in Nusa Lembongan is growing exponentially, and although businesses on the island are sponsoring it with what they can, we cannot keep up with the growth without the help of others.

We need your support to keep this initiative alive in Nusa Lembongan ,through the GoFundMe or sharing our efforts with others. Even just $1 will help us buy 1 kilogram of rice, which will be the result of 3 -10 kilograms of rubbish collected.

Step 1 of the process is where we need your help, so we can buy the rice supplies to give to the locals who bring in their rubbish.


We hope to welcome you back onto a cleaner and happily fed Nusa Lembongan as soon as possible!




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