Uncollected trash: Bali’s mounting problem
Lack of funding, equipment and political will has crippled the ability of the regional administrations across the island to mount an effective response to Bali’s garbage problem.
The island generates an average 10,000 cubic meters of trash every day, but government agencies can only process 5,700 cubic meters, leaving the remaining garbage on roadsides and in illegal dumpsites, a fact decried by environmentalists and visitors alike.
“Every day, about 4,300 cubic meters of trash is not processed. Most of the uncollected trash is dumped at illegal waste disposal sites,” I Komang Ardana, an official with Bali Environmental Agency’s monitoring division, said recently.
He pointed at the limited budget as the main reason behind the island’s mounting garbage problem. City and regency administrations, he said, had limited budgets, thus, could only finance limited facilities and equipment.
“Only garbage in urban areas is being processed, while most of the trash in rural areas has been left uncollected,” he added.
Denpasar Parks and Sanitation Agency secretary Dewa Anom Sayoga acknowledged that the effort to manage garbage in the capital city was hampered by a small budget and lack of facilities.
“Actually, we really want to handle all the garbage that is produced by city residents. But we have a limited budget, inadequate infrastructure for trash disposal, and limited numbers of staff,” Sayoga said.
The agency has only 42 dump trucks and 1,600 staff to transport garbage.
“Only 35 of the trucks are in a fully-operational state, while seven have broken down,” he said, adding that 12 trucks were provided by the Bali administration last year.
In 2011, Denpasar generated more than 1.15 million cubic meters of garbage, but only 698,949 cubic meters was collected by the agency. More than 400,000 cubic meters was left uncollected. In previous years, the garbage collected in Denpasar was approximately 724,586 cubic meters in 2010, 674,694 cubic meters in 2009, 698,217 cubic meters in 2008, and 675,532 cubic meters in 2007.
The uncollected trash poses a mounting problem and health hazard to the surrounding communities.
“We have tried to do our best. But we are really overwhelmed with this limited budget,” he stated.
The city’s 2012 annual budget allocated only Rp 3 billion (US$318,000) for trash disposal, which, according to Sayoga is barely enough to pay the agency’s workers and run the fleet of dump trucks. Ideally, Denpasar should have at least 90 dump trucks.
The city administration had requested more dump trucks but the councillors agreed to allocate ten more trucks only for the 2012 fiscal year.
“It sounds like a lot of money. But, it is actually very limited because we have to pay about 1,600 staff and many other expenses,” he added.
The Denpasar administration has been encouraging people to establish trash banks, a form of community-based garbage management, in Denpasar since 2010. There are currently six trash banks that operate in Denpasar, managing more than 10 tons of the city’s trash every day. The city administration provides annual assistance of Rp 10 million to each of the trash banks. These banks are expected to play a complementary and supporting role to the overstretched agency.
Komang Ardana stated that the provincial administration hoped other regions in Bali would copy the success of garbage banks in Denpasar. “We need community participation to manage the uncollected trash,” Ardana said.
Through the Bali Clean and Green program, he said, the provincial administration had encouraged more communities to manage their own garbage.
“We provide the equipment for many schools and communities who are willing to manage their trash. There are now dozens of community-based garbage management schemes organized by schools, communities, NGOs, as well as government offices. “We are trying to encourage more people to do the same,” Ardana added.