Indonesia Fails to take Adequate Steps to Manage Waste

Spotlight Activity: Indonesia Fails to Take Adequate Steps to Manage Waste

Indonesia’s Paris Agreement pledge (NDC) identifies three key areas that need to change to achieve emissions reductions: land and forestry, energy, and waste. Climate Scorecard reports have emphasized the first two areas. However, given the recent oil spills in the Balikpapan Bay, continued dumping of mining waste by Freeport-McMoran Inc into the Ajkwa River System, and the increasing disposal of plastic into Indonesia’s waters, this brief focuses on how well Indonesia is managing its waste and what impact waste management has on GHG emissions and environmental health. Indonesia has pledged to reduce its overall waste volume to 30% by 2025. Waste generates about as much CO2 emissions as agriculture in Indonesia.

Status: Falling Behind

Indonesia uses 187.2 million tons of plastic per year and is the world’s second largest marine plastic contributor. Koalisi Rakyat untuk Keadilan Perikanan (KIARA) estimates that every year at least 1.29 million tons of waste is dumped into Indonesian rivers. KIARA puts plastic waste at 13,000 tons per square kilometer of ocean. Due to the significant pollution of rivers and oceans, in 2017 the government committed to decreasing marine plastic debris by 70% by 2025. To achieve this, behaviors have to change and infrastructure built. Indonesians increasingly use plastic bags – 9.8 billion bags in 2017 alone – and single-use containers. While recycling facilities and end-of-pipe technologies get off the ground, community-based waste management has been the most effective in reducing waste. In particular, Muslim groups, such as Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, are working with KLHK to change plastic use and disposal by encouraging followers to reduce and reuse plastic materials. With 85% of the population following Islam, these organizations can mobilize significant segments of society to bring about behavioral changes. The reduction of plastic materials is only part of the solution. 95% of plastic bags go unprocessed. Local governments need to develop facilities to reprocess plastics. Recently, President Widodo signed Regulation no. 35 of 2018, which provides a path for the development of waste to energy projects. This regulation also includes subsides and a feed-in tariff to get these projects off the ground. Food scraps constitute over 50% of waste composition in Indonesia. This high amount of degradable organic carbon is pumped out of landfills as methane. The vast majority of methane released organic waste material in Indonesia is still uncaptured. With 24% of waste unmanaged and plastic consumption increasing, Indonesia is falling behind in waste management.

Take Action

One quarter of Indonesia’s waste is unmanaged. With 65 million tons of waste produced per day in Indonesia, 15 million tons end up in ecosystems and communities. Poor municipal waste management leads to significant GHG emissions from landfills and lower quality of life. Regencies need to encourage citizens to reduce plastic use, expand waste collection, improve management of organic waste, and begin to develop infrastructure.

Contact your local regency and urge them to improve waste management. At the very least, regencies should have a waste collection system. Regencies can go further by exploring waste to energy projects and encouraging citizens to reduce consumption of single use plastics. Push your regency to improve its waste management infrastructure.

Send Action Alert Message

Find your regency’s website here:

Find the contact page for your regency. Identify how waste management can be improved in your community and suggest changes to your local government. Some things to think about: Are there enough public trash bins? Do some areas in your community go unserved by trash collectors? Does your regency have a recycling facility? Is composting feasible? If pollution is an issue, where is that waste ending up? How can it be cleaned up?

Improved municipal waste management cannot fully solve pollution. Some of the most environmentally destructive waste management practices come from companies. Contact Freeport-McMoRan and demand that they improve how waste from mineral extraction at Grasberg Mine is handled.

Freeport-McMoRan coporate headquarters email:

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