Updated: Mar 10, 2021
Strengthening waste management systems in Indonesia can have a significant impact on reducing the amount of waste entering the world’s oceans. That’s why CLOCC is currently focusing its efforts to foster waste management capacities in Indonesian communities.
Indonesia is a major source of plastics to the ocean. According to the report Plastic Waste Inputs from Land into the Ocean by Jambeck et al. (2015), Indonesia is one of the five countries from which more than half of the plastics originate.
With its population of 267,7 million people, Indonesia generates 3,22 metric million tons (mmt) of mismanaged plastic waste per year, of which 0,48-1,29 mmt become plastic marine debris per year (Jambeck et al. 2015, 769).
Strengthening waste management capacity can reduce the inflow of plastic waste into the ocean, and contribute to creating jobs, business opportunities and healthier and cleaner communities.
Unmanaged waste reaches waterways
According to the World Bank, 40% of urban residents still lack access to basic waste collection services. Additionally, it is estimated that 18,5 million Indonesians use waterways as their main way of trash disposal (UN Environment and COBSEA Secretariat 2018, 39).
A large share of Indonesia’s waste streams lack professional management, and end up in landfills near the coastline or are dumped in rivers. The World Bank Indonesia’s Marine Debris Hotspots Rapid Assessment found that 20% of plastic waste ends up in coastal waters and rivers.
According to the World Bank, household waste constitutes the largest waste stream. Other sources are industrial, and agricultural waste. Industrial waste has a smaller fraction than household waste, but is far more toxic in its composition and poses immense dangers to human health and the environment. Agricultural practices, through the excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers and unmanaged organic waste, causes eutrophication and uncontrolled methane generation respectively.
A need for local funding and technical expertise
Indonesia has a decentralised responsibility for managing solid waste. Waste management is regulated by national laws, but local governments are responsible for planning, implementation, and enforcement.
In reality, local governments often lack the required funding and technical expertise to carry out their responsibilities. Therefore, different cities and districts have very different waste collection rates. Community-level engagement in waste management also varies significantly (UN Environment and COBSEA Secretariat 2018, 66).
A further challenge is that Indonesia’s institutions have not been able to build a strong waste management system with strong regulation. This has impacted both the technical and social aspects of waste management, including the willingness to pay for waste management, dumping of waste in waterways and open burning.
Informal waste pickers play an important role in municipal solid waste management and contribute significantly to collection and recycling of waste.
Indonesia’s waste management system faces formidable challenges and directly contributes to marine litter. There is a need for a strong system to manage waste from its source to final disposal or processing.
Spearheading efforts to reduce marine plastic pollution
Indonesia’s waste management challenges are severe, but the government is addressing the problem. Improving solid waste management is high on the political agenda, and the country is spearheading Asia’s engagement to reduce marine plastic pollution.
Indonesia’s Long-Term National Urban Development Plan, 2015-2045 sets ambitious targets for solid waste management. The National Medium Term Development Plan (RPJMN), with its “100-0-100” target, aimed to eliminate all slums and provide universal access to water and sanitation, including solid waste management, by 2019.
In 2017 the Indonesian government launched a National Plan of Action on Marine Debris that aims to reduce plastic debris by 70 % by 2025. The plan also involves reducing waste by 30 % through 3R principle (reduce, reuse, recycle).
The motivation to address the waste management problem both on a national and international level indicates the feasibility of CLOCC’s mission of significantly reducing marine plastic pollution and micro plastic.
While there is hope, there is still a long way to go, and increased international cooperation and exchange of skills and knowledge is needed.
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