How RIO Launched the Biggest Beach Cleanup in History

From January 12th-28th, 2021, RIO plans to make history by cleaning up the largest amount of plastic ever removed from a beach in a single day. This event is over a year in the making, and hurdle after hurdle has been cleared on the journey to where we are today.


The Beach


Tanjung Burung beach in Indonesia is choking with plastic pollution. Meters and meters of trash and plastic cover the beach, rendering the white sand nearly impassable and devastating fishing yields.


During a RIO-led cleanup at nearby Tanjung Pasir, RIO CEO Kieran Kelly and COO Kim King found out about the devastating conditions at Tanjung Burung. When they visited the beach, they were shocked by the sheer scale of trash pollution.


Mr. Kelly and the RIO team are no strangers to large cleanups. The cleanup event at Tanjung Pasir involved more than 3,000 volunteers and a massive community effort. But the task at Tanjung Burung dwarfs any other effort that RIO has undertaken.


RIO's mission is to rid the ocean of plastic waste. Tanjung Burung presents us with an opportunity to remove more ocean plastic and other pollution than ever before, drastically improving the local community's quality of life and restoring the beautiful natural habitat that thrived on these shores.


Photo of RIO Cleanup Event on Tanjung Pasir taken by Kim King, 02-05-2020


Photo of Tanjug Burung taken by Kim King, 02-05-2020


The Plan


Suddenly, Kieran Kelly and Kim King started to meet with the local fishermen and other community members to better understand the challenges they were facing.


Then, one year ago, we applied for a permit to clean up the beach.


We were initially denied.


The local government was concerned that the cleanup would disrupt local shrimp fishermen who use plastic debris to create walled shrimp farms near the beach. With the government unwilling to grant us the necessary permits, we were stuck.


But Kieran and Kim's passion was un-waivered. They kept pressing forward, determined to find a way to free this community from the grip of plastic waste.


  • They brought several people to the beach, including social media influencers such as Ryan Mac and local government and military personnel, to show them how large and immediate the problem was.
  • They petitioned the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia, hoping to gain additional government support since plastic pollution is not just a local problem; it's a global one.
  • They took to social media, posting pictures, videos, and stories about the devastating effects of plastic pollution on Indonesia's beaches.


Slowly, the wave of support began to build. Ryan Mac posted a video to his influential YouTube channel, which reached tens of thousands of Indonesians and created a substantial local outpouring of support for the cleanup. This led to a contact associated with the Indonesian Special Forces reaching out to RIO and offering her support and advocacy for our cause.


Finally, the awareness and advocacy that Kieran, Kim, and the rest of the RIO team had been trying tirelessly to build caught the Indonesian government's attention. 


The Breakthrough


At the beginning of December 2020, moved by the wave of local and foreign support, we were finally approved to clean the beach with the full backing of Indonesian Special Forces, military, and the Indonesian government behind us.


The Event


This historic cleanup has been met with an unbelievable amount of support from organizations such as:


- Kopassus (Army Special Forces)

- Paskhas (Air Force Special Forces)

- Indonesian Navy

- Indonesian Airforce Wing 1

- Naila - Indonesian Ambassador for the Skies

- Ibu Susi Pujiastuti (Menteri - Ministry)


Coverage of the event is being provided by:

- Tribunnews

- Liputan6

- Sindonews

- Suara Karya

- Bisnis Indonesia

- Antara News

- Kompas

- Merdeka

- Jakarta Kita (Edi)

- Jawa Pos

- Warta Kota

- Galamedia

- Akurat News

- JPNN Video

- FEM Indonesia

- Halo Selebriti


We have been granted a permit to clean the beach in record time through the incredible support listed above and with a special thank you to the Indonesian Government, military, and Special Forces.


On the day of the cleanup, Indonesian Special Forces paratroopers will parachute onto the difficult-to-reach beach, and the Indonesian military will be providing landing crafts and personnel to help remove vast amounts of trash.


And then, of course, will be the ever-crucial volunteers. RIO is seeking the help of as many local volunteers as we can find to aid in the cleanup efforts while making sure people reduce unnecessary travel during this pandemic.


After so much effort and advocacy, we could not be more excited to roll up our sleeves and help rid this community of their plastic plague. Make sure you follow us for more updates as we embark on this historic event!

Photo of CEO, Kieran Kelly and Ryan Mac with Indonesian military & Special Forces on Tanjung Burung 11-30-2020


Photo of Tanjung Burung beach taken by Kim King, 02-05-2020


 Photo of shrimp farms on Tanjung Burung taken by Kim King, 02-05-2020