Walk of fame: Indonesian duo pave the way to success with recycled plastic roads

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Beach cleanup by Get Plastic and Rumah Hijau volunteers in Pramuka Island, Jakarta in September 2020. (Credit: Get Plastic)
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Rebricks co-founder Ovy Shabrina showcases paving blocks made from a mix of plastic waste. (Credit: Shinta Eka Puspasari)
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Packages containing plastic waste from all over Indonesia in front of Rebricks workshop in southern Jakarta. (Credit: Shinta Eka Puspasari)
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Rebricks co-founders Ovy Sabrina (L) and Novita Tan pose in front of packages of plastic waste sent from regions across Indonesia. (Credit: Shinta Eka Puspasari)
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Packages containing plastic waste from all over Indonesia at Rebricks workshop in southern Jakarta. (Credit: Shinta Eka Puspasari)
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Rebricks co-founder Ovy Sabrina shows shredded plastic waste ready to be mixed with other materials to produce a paving block. (Credit: Shinta Eka Puspasari)
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A worker inserts plastic packages into shredding machine at Rebricks workshop in southern Jakarta. (Credit: Shinta Eka Puspasari)
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Get Plastic founder Dimas Bagus Wijanarko and members install a pyrolysis machine at the Rumah Hijau in Pramuka Island, Jakarta. (Credit: Get Plastic)
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Get Plastic founder Dimas Bagus Wijanarko explains how the pyrolysis machine works at Rumah Hijau in Pramuka Island in September 2020. (Credit: Get Plastic)
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Get Plastic prepares a pyrolysis machine in September 2020 to convert plastic into fuel in Pramuka Island, Jakarta. (Credit: Get Plastic)
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Volunteers sort waste at Rumah Hijau workshop in Pramuka Island, Jakarta. (Credit: Get Plastic)
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A worker inserts plastic packages into shredding machine at Rebricks workshop in southern Jakarta. (Credit: Shinta Eka Puspasari)
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Updated 11 November 2020

Walk of fame: Indonesian duo pave the way to success with recycled plastic roads

  • Novel solution arose from the need to tackle country’s mounting waste problem, Rebricks factory co-founders say

JAKARTA: A loud bang breaks through the silence at a small factory along a street in the southern suburb of Jakarta where three men run a paver block machine, the source of the noise, to produce six grey bricks per batch.

Several piles of bricks lie scattered on the floor of the Rebricks factory workshop. However, these are not made from clay or shale, but from recycled finely shredded plastic.

On the other side of the factory is a mountain of plastic waste covering a 1,000-square-meter area waiting to be shredded into pieces before being mixed with other elements to make the plastic paving blocks.

Rebricks co-founders, university friends Ovy Sabrina and Novita Tan, said the idea to create “a competitive product” arose from the need to do more with “rejected plastic.”

“We wanted to show that we could make a competitive product from rejected plastic and (not just) extend the life of the waste,” Sabrina told Arab News.

The duo spent a year and a half experimenting with various formulae until they finally nailed the perfect recipe and were “confident enough to start production” in November last year.

The process involves breaking down multilayer plastic – material used for packaging daily-use goods such as food, shampoo, detergent.

These types of materials are usually rejected by community-operated waste banks or recycling centers who find it difficult to separate the layers of plastic and aluminium, and are instead dumped in landfills and rivers, thereby polluting the environment.

“We do not want to create a new problem such as micro-plastic that will pollute the soil when our bricks broke,” Sabrina said.

Indonesia is the second-largest marine pollutant in the world, producing 3.2 million tons of plastic waste in 2010 with around 1.29 million tons of that ending up in the ocean, a study led by Jenna R. Jambeck from the University of Georgia in 2015 showed.

According to a report released by the Environment and Forestry Ministry in February this year, Indonesia’s plastic waste production has risen about 5 percent annually in the past 20 years, while 21 out of 34 provinces in the country have issued policies to optimize their waste management strategy and support a national roadmap for a zero-waste target by 2025.

In addition, 30 regional administrations have banned single-use plastic to encourage changes in public consumption and behavior.

Realising that change can only be made brick by brick, Sabrina and Tan said they soon got to work and took their proposal to members of Sabrina’s family who own the factory where Rebricks is now housed.

Today, Rebricks uses 88,000 pieces of multilayer plastic to produce 100 square meters of bricks and has been approved by Indonesia’s industry ministry’s Center for Material and Technical Product, the government body in charge of certifying industrial products.

Sabrina said that a paving block made using these bricks “can withstand up to 250 kg of weight per square centimeter,” making it ideal for use in parking lots, driveways or pedestrian sidewalks.

Similar initiatives have also sprung up across the archipelago.

In tourism hot-spot Bali, a community-led non-profit group named Get Plastic has launched a machine which turns plastic into fuel, offering a solution to Indonesia’s waste problem and its high dependence on imported fossil fuel.

“The next generation must no longer struggle to find a solution to end this waste problem,” Dimas Bagus Wijanarko, Get Plastic’s founder.

“We need to address it now so they will have the time to increase their competence, or even to find ways to live on the moon.”

Wijanarko said he began the research in 2014 to employ the pyrolysis technique and convert plastic into fuel.

He said the technology, which involves thermal decomposition of waste in the absence of oxygen, is “cleaner” than a waste incinerator which emits toxic gas during the process.

“Results of a lab test by Sucofindo (the state-owned inspection and audit firm) showed that our fuel has the same quality as conventional diesel fuel but with far lower carbon residue,” Wijanarko said.

Like Rebricks, Get Plastic focuses on using rejected waste such as noodle packages and plastic shopping bags as its primary materials, with each of its machines having the capacity to convert 5 kg of plastic into 5 liters of diesel fuel and kerosene within three hours.

The group is collaborating with other communities to expand the impact of the machine, including with the award-winning Rumah Hijau (Green House) community in Pramuka Island, Thousand Islands regency, Jakarta.

Rumah Hijau’s founder, Mahariah Sandri, said that the machine “has helped to reprocess significant amount of plastic waste” collected from households and the sea surrounding the island since it was installed in September this year.

“It is a great addition to existing activities at Rumah Hijau which had been limited to prolonging the life of certain plastics while the rejected ones continue piling up,” said Sandri, who won the prestigious Kalpataru award from the Environment and Forestry Ministry in 2017, for raising awareness of responsible waste management.

She said that such solutions, as well as improved waste management programs, were “much needed to tackle the rising volume of waste” in the area, especially after Thousand Islands regency being designated as one of the government’s 10 priority tourism spots.

Wijanarko said that the community is planning a trip to other islands that are on the government’s list.

“It will probably be the world’s largest trash cleanup activity: 10 people in vehicles fueled by plastic go on a more than 1,000 km journey to collect and recycle waste,” he said.

At least ten Niger soldiers killed in militant attack

Updated 59 min 30 sec ago

At least ten Niger soldiers killed in militant attack

  • Islamist militants have stepped up their attacks amid the power struggles in some countries in the Sahel region, with Niger as the latest to be hit by a coup

NIAMEY: At least ten Niger soldiers were killed in an attack by militants in the country’s southwest on Thursday morning, three security sources told Reuters.

The attack took place about 190 km (118 miles) from the capital Niamey in Kandadji, near the tri-border zone of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger that has been the epicenter of Islamist insurgencies in the Sahel region in the last few years.
The sources including a senior military officer, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media, did not say which group was responsible. Local affiliates of Al-Qaeda and Islamic State are active in the region and wage frequent attacks on soldiers and civilians.
Two security sources said the army responded to the attack with ground troops as well as helicopters, one of which was hit but was able to return to its base.
Niger is run by a military junta that seized power in a coup in July, partly out of discontent at the worsening security situation. Neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso have each had two coups in the last three years.
However, security analysts say attacks had been falling in Niger under ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, who had tried to engage with Islamists and the rural communities where they are rooted.
At least 17 soldiers were killed in another attack in southwestern Niger in mid-August.
France said on Sunday it would withdraw its 1,500 troops from Niger before the end of the year, after weeks of pressure from the junta and popular demonstrations against the former colonial ruler, which had forces there to fight the insurgents.
On Thursday, several hundred pro-junta supporters gathered again in front of the French military base in the capital Niamey to demand that the troops leave.

Germany, Israel sign ‘historic’ missile shield deal

Updated 28 September 2023

Germany, Israel sign ‘historic’ missile shield deal

  • Worth around $3.5 billion (€3.3 billion), the sale is the biggest ever deal for Israel’s military industry

BERLIN: Germany on Thursday signed a deal to acquire the Israeli-made Arrow 3 hypersonic missile system that will become a key part of Europe’s defense against air attack.

The signing of the deal was a “historic day” for both countries, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said at a press conference alongside his Israeli counterpart Yoav Gallant.

Worth around $3.5 billion (€3.3 billion), the sale is the biggest ever deal for Israel’s military industry.

The Arrow 3 system would make “German air defense ready for the future,” Pistorius said.

Germany has led a push to bolster NATO’s air defenses in Europe, urging allies to buy deterrence systems together.

“We can see with the daily Russian attacks on Ukraine how important anti-air defense is,” Pistorius said.

“Only 80 years since the end of the Second World War yet Israel and Germany join hands today in building a safer future,” he said.

The long-range Arrow 3 system, designed to shoot down missiles above the Earth’s atmosphere, is powerful enough to offer protective cover for neighboring EU states.

The system was developed and produced by Israel and the US and the sale had to be approved by Washington before it could be finalized.

The system was first deployed at an Israeli air force base in 2017 and has been used to protect Israel against attacks from Iran and Syria.

Arrow 3 is a “mobile system” that can be deployed depending on the threats faced, according to manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries.

The money for the deal comes from a landmark €100-billion fund unveiled by Chancellor Olaf Scholz to bolster the country’s defenses in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

More than a dozen European countries have so far signed up to Germany’s common air defense project, the European Sky Shield Initiative.

The Sky Shield project would involve joint procurement for short-, medium- and long-range systems, including the German-made Iris-T, the American Patriot system and Arrow 3.

Some of Germany’s neighbors have however so far declined to sign up to the pact, including France and Poland.

Officials in Paris have argued instead for an air defense system using European equipment.

Berlin has said it expects the Arrow 3 system to be delivered in the final quarter of 2025.

Three killed in twin Dutch shootings

Updated 28 September 2023

Three killed in twin Dutch shootings

  • Dutch police said they were still investigating the motive for the twin attacks by the 32-year-old man
  • The man first burst into a house in the Dutch port city and opened fire, killing a 39-year-old woman and seriously injuring her 14-year-old daughter

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands: A gunman dressed in combat gear and wearing a bulletproof vest went on a shooting rampage at a house and a hospital in Rotterdam Thursday, killing a 14-year-old girl, her mother and a teacher.
Dutch police said they were still investigating the motive for the twin attacks by the 32-year-old man, who also set fire to the hospital and the house.
The man first burst into a house in the Dutch port city and opened fire, killing a 39-year-old woman and seriously injuring her 14-year-old daughter, police chief Fred Westerbeke told reporters. The girl later died of her injuries.
He then moved to a classroom at the Erasmus MC university hospital, shooting dead a 46-year-old teacher before starting another fire in the facility, sparking panic.
Elite police stormed the hospital, as panicked medical staff in white coats flooded out of the building pushing patients in wheelchairs and on stretchers.
He was taken into custody shortly afterwards and chief public prosecutor Hugo Hillenaar told reporters the suspect was cooperating with police following his arrest.
“We cannot say anything about the motive of this terrible act at this time. The probe is still ongoing,” said Hillenaar.
The suspect was thought to have possessed only one firearm and there is no indication he had accomplices, authorities said.
Police said the suspect, a student at the hospital, was already known to the authorities over a conviction for animal cruelty.
An investigation is underway as to whether he was a student of the teacher shot dead. Authorities believe that the woman and her daughter were close neighbors of the suspect, leading Westerbeke to suggest they were “targeted attacks.”
He had earlier been described as tall, with black hair, wearing “combat-style” clothes and carrying a backpack.
“I am angry and sad,” said Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, who spoke of a “black day” for his city.
“We have been shocked by a horrific incident... the emotion in the city is running high,” the mayor told reporters.
Witnesses described the chaotic scenes around the hospital, as helicopters buzzed overhead, and police snipers took up positions on the hospital roof.
“First there was a shooting on the fourth floor. Four or five shots were fired. Then a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the education center,” said a medical student quoted by RTL Nieuws, who did not give his name.
“There was a lot of panic and screaming... I didn’t hear any shots, just the panic and that’s what I started to act on,” public broadcaster NOS cited another eyewitness as saying.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte spoke of his “great dismay” at the shootings.
“My thoughts go out to the victims of the violence, their loved ones and all those who have been hugely scared,” he added in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima said their hearts went out to those suffering “intense grief.”
“It’s unbelievable,” said Rotterdam GP Matthijs van der Poel, cited on the Algemeen Dagblad website.
“Everyone is totally shocked by the events and is watching the news with horror. I’m afraid such things cannot be prevented,” he said.
Rotterdam is often the scene of shootings, usually attributed to score settling by rival drug gangs.
In 2019, three people were shot dead on a tram in Utrecht, sparking a huge manhunt.
And in 2011, the country was left shocked when 24-year-old Tristan van der Vlis killed six people and wounded 10 others in a rampage at a packed shopping mall.

Canada PM says he is sure Blinken will raise murder case with India

Updated 28 September 2023

Canada PM says he is sure Blinken will raise murder case with India

  • Blinken is due to meet Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Thursday
  • New Delhi has told Canada it was open to looking into any “specific” information on the killing

OTTAWA: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday he was sure US Secretary of State Antony Blinken would raise the murder of a Sikh separatist leader with his Indian counterpart when the two meet later in the day.

Trudeau made his remarks to reporters in Quebec, 10 days after he announced Canada suspected Indian government agents were linked to the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, which took place in the province of British Columbia in June.

Blinken is due to meet Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Thursday. Asked directly whether Blinken would bring up the case, Trudeau replied: “The Americans will certainly discuss this matter with the Indian government.”

India has dismissed Canada’s allegations as absurd. Jaishankar though said on Tuesday that New Delhi has told Canada it was open to looking into any “specific” or “relevant” information it provides on the killing.

Serbia opens ‘smart’ police station using UAE expertise

Updated 28 September 2023

Serbia opens ‘smart’ police station using UAE expertise

  • High-tech facility will offer 24/7 security and community services

LONDON: Serbia has opened its first “smart” police station, drawing on the technological expertise of the UAE, Emirates News Agency reported on Thursday.

The initiative was inspired by the success of Dubai Police’s smart police stations, which offer 24/7 security and community services without human intervention.

The new high-tech police facility is part of the UAE and Serbia’s collaboration and exchanging of expertise in security, policing and crime prevention.

Bratislav Gasic, Serbia’s interior minister, praised the UAE for its support in establishing the police station, highlighting it as a testament to the growing ties between the two countries.

Lt. Gen. Abdullah Khalifa Al-Marri, commander-in-chief of Dubai Police, said the venture is part of the UAE’s strategic efforts to strengthen its international partnerships in line with the vision of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

“Our shared objective is to transform Serbian police stations, combining Emirati innovation and Serbian security expertise. These smart police stations will provide various services in multiple languages 24/7 without human intervention, mirroring the SPS in Dubai,” he said.