Maarten Tromp spent most of his days hitting the waves in Bali during his vacation. The ocean’s alarming plastic waste inspired him to help combat this never-ending environmental issue.
Now, as the Business Developer for Econesia and settling in Bali, Maarten believes water filtration is the way to go – for the health of the planet, our bodies, and our bank accounts.
What’s the story behind Econesia?
Econesia’s mission is to reduce plastic waste which, as we’re all aware by now, is one of the planet’s most pressing environmental problems.
When I visited Bali for the first time last year, I spent a lot of my time surfing. It was during those times that I noticed first-hand the enormous amount of plastic litter, both in the water and on the beaches. It was very upsetting to see that these once pristine shorelines were now deprived of their beauty because of plastic waste.
I thought about organising beach clean-ups but then realised this would only be treating the symptoms of the problem, while the core of the issue – the over-consumption of single-use plastic – would still remain. I did some research on the numbers and found that authorities have to remove 100 tons of plastic waste from Bali’s beaches every day! I thought it was such a ridiculously huge amount of plastic; things can’t go on like this. There must be a better way of dealing with the issue.
This is exactly what Econesia does. Instead of “solving” the problem at the surface by cleaning up the plastic waste, we aim to tackle the issue at source by preventing the use of avoidable plastics in the first place. That line of thought is how Econesia was born.
We can proudly say that we’ve prevented the use of two million plastic bottles this year. How have we achieved this? By installing high-quality water filters in hotels and restaurants that previously provided water to their guests in single-use plastic bottles. Econesia’s filters skip the single-use bottle and offer mineral-rich, filtered water in reusable glass bottles instead.
It’s our goal to become a widely known company for water filtration and zero-waste living in Indonesia.
What makes Econesia special compared to other water filter products in the market?
We have made sure that our water filters are of the highest quality and are user-friendly at the same time. Other filter companies often provide emergency filters. These filters aren’t always able to get rid of all the impurities in the water and they also require a lot of maintenance.
We have also tested the water that’s provided in gallon bottles from the big companies multiple times. The water from these companies often has either a really high concentration of total dissolved solids (TDS) or a really low concentration of TDS. The TDS is a measure of all the dissolved inorganic and organic substances present in a liquid. According to the WHO, a high TDS is undesirable and can lead to health issues, while very low TDS is also not recommended as that water would be depleted of its essential minerals and often has a very flat taste. Our water filters contain a TDS-controller, which allows us to accurately determine the desired amount of minerals left in the filtered water.
What’s the technology used?
Econesia’s filters use a purification system with reverse osmosis (RO) and ultrafiltration (UF), removing dissolved impurities such as chemical substances, viral bacteria, and salts to provide 100 percent pure drinking water. Normal RO purifiers remove dissolved impurities but also remove the essential minerals, which makes the water unsuitable for drinking.
The TDS controller in our water filter makes sure that the essential natural minerals remain in the water. These minerals contribute to healthy skin, hair, and teeth.
We use a four-step filtration process: water passes through a sediment filter, a carbon filter, a reverse osmosis system, and finally through an ultrafiltration membrane.
Can you describe the filtration process?
You can watch the filtration process via this link https://youtu.be/cy0NoG9I_U0
Econesia is described as “the first complete drinking water solution in Indonesia for your hotel, business, and home”. How are the offers for hotels, businesses, and homes different from one another?
Foremost, Econesia’s filter is low-cost, low maintenance, and high quality. Other options are either high maintenance or high cost and have varying quality results.
For hotels and businesses, we additionally offer customised, reusable glass bottles and crates and we train the staff with videos and on-site training about how to work with the bottles safely and conveniently. For businesses, hotels, and homes we provide a one-year quality guarantee. Every six months, we come by for a water-quality check-up.
How does Econesia reduce costs and make it enjoyable to consume water? Are there other benefits using Econesia?
Our water filter is available for a special discounted price right now. Instead of its usual price of Rp4.5 million, the system is now available for Rp3.5 million. You can also lease one per month for Rp350,000 for 12 months. On average, a restaurant in Bali uses about 500 litres of drinking water per week. This results in a total expense of Rp1.79 million per month an Rp17,000 per 19-litre bottle. With our water filter, these costs can be drastically reduced to Rp350,000 per month and, with time, they can drop even further to almost zero.
Everyone has become somewhat of a germaphobe these days with the global pandemic going on. Is it still challenging to attract more people to consuming filtered water?
On the contrary! I think that our filters can actually help in this situation since they work really well at getting rid of pathogens too. Because of some bad experiences with other filters, we’ve noticed that some people are somewhat hesitant to drink filtered water. However, we believe it’s only a matter of time until people become more used to drinking filtered water as the quality of the filters is great. Using a water filter also makes people more independent; you no longer depend on the delivery of gallons for your drinking water.
Why do you think water filtration is the way to go?
Clean water is becoming increasingly scarce in Indonesia. Factors that contribute to this process are the lack of governmental intervention, poor sanitation since most homes aren’t connected to a sewage system, and increased saltwater due to the overdrawing of groundwater leading to saltwater entering the water table. As the population grows, the pressure on groundwater sources only increases. Water prices are another good reason. Water companies tend to overcharge for their water, especially in the dry season. Indonesians then have no other option but to drink polluted water.
With an affordable water filtration system, you empower people to have their own water source, making them independent from the big private companies and it also reduces the amount of groundwater we use.
Is there a reason for Econesia targeting Indonesia?
Indonesia is the world’s second-biggest contributor to marine plastic pollution. This means that targeting the issue here can achieve a meaningful impact; it reduces plastic consumption at the source and prevents it from leaking into the environment. The country is also the world’s fourth most populous country and many people’s livelihoods here depend on tourism, which in the past years has been significantly affected by the plastic waste crisis. In addition, a considerable number of Indonesians lack adequate access to affordable drinking water.
Since being part of Enviu, which believes in an economy serving people and the planet to address social and environmental issues, why and how did the partnership come about?
My partnership with Enviu came about because of my volunteer work as a treasurer for the Marma Foundation. I’d been working as a financial consultant for a year but I felt like I could do something more purposeful with my time. Through the Marma Foundation, I got in touch with Enviu. Their work really resonated with me, creating viable business models that not only serve the people but also the planet. These kinds of businesses are really what the world needs more of.
If someone is interested in purchasing an Econesia product, where can they check them out? Do you have a cleaning tip?
People can reach to us on WhatsApp +62 812 1133 1513 to have a brief call about their specific situation and the possible installation of the filter.
How did you get involved with Econesia, Maarten?
When I approached Enviu, they were just expanding Econesia in Jakarta. I was ready for something new and joining Econesia’s mission to tackle plastic pollution sounded like a dream come true. I love to explore new cultures and foreign countries – I was searching to do something more meaningful.
My girlfriend and I decided to go for it. She quit her job in Austin, Texas, to pursue her career as a graphic designer and eventually came with me to Indonesia.
It was one of the craziest things I’ve ever done, leaving my stable job and life in Amsterdam and moving to the other side of the world. I definitely don’t regret it, we’re very happy here. The Balinese culture is very rich, the people are so friendly, and of course, the island is very beautiful. There’s also a big expat community in Bali with a lot of young people working remotely. I feel very lucky to be here right now amid a pandemic.
This year, you moved to Indonesia; planned to be based in Jakarta but relocated to Bali instead. How do you find Bali amidst the new normal?
Yes, the original plan was to be located in Jakarta, but when COVID-19 spread globally around March this year, my girlfriend and I decided to move to Bali. We literally were able to catch the last flight before the airport shut down!
I had visited Bali before and I love it. I’m living in Canggu and often go for a morning surf session. Life here is still pretty normal for me, though it’s much quieter! Something I don’t really mind, to be honest. Canggu can be crazy, especially during the high season.
But, of course, I sympathise with the locals since most of them really depend on tourism and with the airport closed, many are struggling to make ends meet. Hopefully, Bali will reopen their borders again soon so everything can return to normal.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I’ve recently switched to a plant-based lifestyle and it’s been great. I feel healthy, have more energy, and really think that consuming no or fewer animal products is one of the best things you can do for animals, the environment, and your own health. If you’d like to learn more about this, you can find me on Instagram @the.nature.nutritionist.
What’s your favourite Indonesian food and beverage you’ve had so far.
Balinese curry, Jackfruit rendang, and jamu. My least favourite is soursop.