Community-led waste banks can be key in tackling waste in the upstream. If optimised, more than 70% of Jakarta’s waste does not need to end up in Bantargebang.

RESIDENTS of RW08 Pulogebang, Cakung, East Jakarta has established the Sekarwangi Waste Bank because they were disturbed by piles of waste around their residences. The waste not only comes from the residents’ houses, but also from houses in other areas.

“There were piles of waste which was left to to rot,” said Budi Asri Budiarti, a resident of RW08, who is now a waste bank administrator since mid-March 2022.

Waste was piling up and overflowed the residential roads, creating unpleasant smells and sights. According to Budiarti, the housewives in the area have complained about this situation to the Head of RW08. After some deliberations with other administrators and reading some references online, Budiarti and other housewives agreed to stop sending waste to the temporary waste disposal site, and start sending them to a waste bank.

Utilizing the RT12 office building, the housewives established the Sekarwangi Waste Bank in August 2019. The concept is simple: preventing waste from entering waste disposal site. The waste bank administrators will buy waste from the community and offer more value if the waste is sorted at home.

Waste is segregated into three categories: paper, plastic, and organic waste. Residents can submit them to the waste bank and receive money based on the total weight. The price of each type of waste varied according to the resale price for recycling industry.

Plastic and paper waste, especially cardboard, have economic value. The Jakarta Environment Agency provides a processing facility for plastic and paper waste to be reused by the recycling industry. The sales to the environment agency have given value to the waste of the Pulogebang residents.

Sekarwangi administrators buy plastic cups from residents for IDR 3,000 per kilogram, the highest price point compared to other waste types. The waste bank then sells them to the environment agency for IDR 5,500. “The profit goes back to the community and to fund the operational costs of the waste bank,” said Budiarti.

“Waste bank administrators don’t get paid because we are volunteers.”

There are 15 people in charge of weighing, recording, and sending the waste to the Environment Agency. The number of customers varied every week, from 150 people up to 180 people per week. The administrators collect the waste and deposit them to the environment agency every two weeks.

The amount of plastic waste per shipment is an average of 800 kilograms. Meanwhile, organic waste is processed into fertilizer that is available for anyone to use in their gardens.

With almost zero waste sent to disposal sites, residents in RT12 Pulogebang can now breathe a sigh of relief. No more unpleasant smell from temporary waste disposal site. They even closed the site to prevent residents of other RTs from dumping their waste there.

After three years of operations, said Budiarti, residents now better understand the function and role of the waste bank. According to the 46-year-old mother of two, the most difficult task in organizing the waste bank is educating residents to sort their waste at home.

“Nowadays, most of them understand,” she said.

Waste banks are becoming increasingly popular in Jakarta. According to the Head of the Jakarta Environment Agency, Asep Kuswanto, last year there were 3,188 waste banks registered at his office. This means that the number of waste banks has exceeded the number of RWs in Jakarta which is 2,742.

“But the pandemic has halted the activities of several waste banks, like those located in offices and schools,” he said.

The number of waste bank customers in Jakarta is 203,502 people. If one customer represents one household, the number of waste bank customers is only 10% of the total number of houses in the capital. Citing data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, Kuswanto says only 8.18% of households have sorted their waste.

Jakarta is indeed overwhelmed by waste. This is an underlying problem that seems to persist. From one governor to the next, waste issue is constantly a problem. Urbanization and the growing number of the middle class are increasing the volume of waste every year. In 2000, Jakarta produced 5,000 tons of waste per day, and last year it reached 7,233 tons.

Kuswanto says most of the waste in Jakarta is food waste, which amounts to 52.91%. Plastic and plastic materials at 14.85%, paper at 7.49%, and the rest are grass, wood, glass, shards, leather, metal, and hazardous waste. With a waste bank at every RW, Kuswanto says organic and plastic waste can actually be managed early on.

The problem is, not every resident utilizes waste bank. People are not accustomed to sorting their waste and submitting them to the waste bank in their areas. “We still need to encourage waste sorting in the community,” said Kuswanto.

“So that more recyclables can go to the waste banks available in their location.”

At Pulogebang, the Sekarwangi Waste Bank currently only receives waste from 3.34% of the total households in RW 8, which stands at 5,386. Budiarti acknowledged that there is a lack of awareness among residents. “Some residents remain ignorant despite our efforts to disseminate information regarding the waste bank,” she said.

The location of the Sekarwangi waste bank in RT12 has left other RT residents in the RW hesitant in depositing their waste there. In addition, Budiarti adds, the level of awareness in RT12 is not yet 100%. She estimates that only 70% of households are aware that they have to sort out their waste. Not only that, those who deposit their waste to Sekarwangi, don’t separate their waste.

A rough calculation: if every waste bank only receives an average of 3% of the community’s total waste, the total waste managed by all waste banks in Jakarta is less than 1,000 tons per day. Recent data from the Jakarta environment agency shows the total waste of Jakarta residents amounts to 8,448 tons a day.

We still need to encourage waste sorting in the community level so that more recyclables can go to the waste banks available in their location

Asep Kuswanto, Head of the Jakarta Environmental Agency

Kuswanto says, waste banks have only managed 26 tons of inorganic waste per day. Whereas the inorganic waste that enters Bantargebang disposal site, such as plastics, papers, and metals, reaches 24% or 1,735 tons per day. This means that only 1.5% of inorganic waste are managed at the RW level.

With various programs, including waste bank, Jakarta can potentially reduce as much as 2,071 tons of waste per day, out of the 6,271.5 tons that enters Bantagebang per day. The amount of waste increased to 7,223 tons per day due to the waste from other cities surrounding Jakarta that are flowing in 13 rivers passing the city.

In Bekasi, a city in the east of Jakarta, there have been efforts to reduce waste. In Bantargebang, for example, Asoka waste bank receives 700 kilograms of waste every week. Similar to Sekarwangi, they also process organic waste into fertilizers for residents’ garden or public spaces.

“We handed over plastic waste to individual waste collector to be sold to the recycling industry,” said Suprio, a private sector employee who became an administrator of Asoka.

According to Kuswanto, if all RTs in Jakarta have their own waste bank, and every resident can sort waste from home, Jakarta can actually solve its inorganic waste problem. According to Kuswanto’s calculation, if all organic and inorganic waste are managed in the upstream, 77% of the waste in Jakarta can be prevented from entering Bantargebang disposal site.

“Bantargebang only receives the residues,” he said

This report is part of a special report published on Forest Digest for its April-June 2022 edition under the title Relieved by Waste Bank, and it’s supported by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network.

About the writer

Rama Maulana

Rama Maulana graduated from the Faculty of Forestry and Environment of IPB University in 2021. His interest lies in topics related to soil sciences, spatial planning, and watershed management. He now works...

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