Indonesia in state of waste emergency
Hans Nicholas Jong
The Jakarta Post
Indonesia, the world's second biggest contributor to plastic waste in the oceans, is in a state of emergency with regard to waste problems. Its decaying trash disposal sites are struggling to cope with tens of millions of tons of waste every year.
Environment and Forestry Ministry waste management director Sudirman said on Thursday that there were so many problems with regard to waste management in Indonesia that he was mulling whether or not he should declare a state of emergency.
'Actually, we want to declare a national state of emergency for waste because garbage is everywhere,' he said during a national seminar on waste management in Jakarta.
As of 2015, an average person in Indonesia produces 0.7 kilogram of waste per day. With 250 million people, a staggering 175,000 tons of waste is produced each day, amounting to 64 million tons per year, according to data from the ministry. This waste is mostly dumped into landfill.
'We still rely very much on landfill. 69 percent of our waste goes to landfill,' Sudirman said. 'We have more than 200 TPA [final disposal sites], but they're not even good. The good [sites with sanitary landfill technologies] make up only 10 percent of the total number of sites.'
These landfills are struggling to cope with the ever-increasing waste as the population grows and people consume more and more.
For example, South Tangerang, a 147-square-kilometer city with 1.4 million people, is lacking an adequate number of temporary trash disposal sites (TPS). Many of the existing TPS are not functioning properly, forcing a large number of residents to burn their trash and suffer the negative effects of air pollution.
The municipality's final trash disposal site, the 2.5 hectare Cipeucang site, is predicted to run out of space at the end of 2016. It can process only 30 percent of its total daily waste production at the moment.
Another site is the country's largest dumpsite, Bantar Gebang landfill, where Jakarta residents dump 6,700 tons of solid waste per day.
Although the landfill, which started operating in 1989, was designed to use sanitary landfill technologies, in practice, it is merely an open dumping site that has generated environmental problems such as air pollution, odor and groundwater pollution in surrounding areas.
Realizing that relying on landfills would only exacerbate waste problems, the government has tried to introduce the public to the concept of '3R' (reuse, reduce and recycle) through the country's first solid waste management law in 2008.
However, the mantra has failed to catch on in the country.
'Recycling makes up 7.5 percent [of waste management] in metropolitan cities. But the figure dips to 1.9 percent all across Indonesia,' Sudirman said.
In order to promote the concept of recycling, the government plans to improve the current bank sampah (garbage bank) system, first introduced in 2011, to reduce the volume of waste at the household level.
Under the system, residents would save their non-organic waste and deposit it. They weigh and record their trash deposits, which are later sold to trash collectors every month. The proceeds are then transferred to the customers' accounts.
According to the ministry's director general of dangerous toxic material and waste management, Tuti Hendrawati Mintarsih, a dedicated online system to coordinate the banks is now in the pipeline.
The system, accessible through android-based smartphones, would help people deposit their garbage and assist bank staff tasked with taking the garbage from them, as the application would be equipped with GPS technology.
'Therefore, we are drafting a presidential regulation on the speeding up of waste management,' Tuti recently said. 'Apparently, all mayors and regents find it difficult to build final garbage disposal sites because there are too many rules. Therefore, the presidential regulation will instruct all sectors to make the permit process easier.'
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