Indonesia Expat
Observations

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Green is not just another colour, these days everyone’s talking green; not US Dollar-green but green as a synonym for the environment. Property developers are selling the concept of ‘green’ living while retailers are marketing their line of ‘green’ products. Unless you’ve been living under a shell, you would have at some point read or heard concerns about today’s environment, so we’ve got to act… NOW.

We can do our part by recycling. Recycling is the best and most environmentally friendly solution for waste management.

According to the Public Works Agency, Jakarta households produce about 6,000 tonnes of garbage a day, of which environmentalists estimate that 60 percent can actually be recycled. Educating communities—and getting them involved in recycling would help make the city more environment-friendly.

Kudos to the shopping malls and office buildings for playing their part. A mall that I frequent provides multiple-compartment trash bins for shoppers to separate their rubbish – plastic, paper, cans. While it’s a nice initiative, I’ve noticed that the janitors always empty the contents of all three compartments into one giant green bin (yes, I’m that free to observe them, you should join me sometime), mixing up the trash in the process, so I don’t know why they bother with the multiple-compartment bins in the first place.

Households can turn their trash into cash by bringing in their recyclable garbage to drop off points or directly to the recycling centres. The financial returns may be small, but the environmental returns could be tremendous. If we think that a stack of newspapers or plastic bottles is not worth the time or effort, then we should at least make an effort to separate our waste so that those who collect it can better treat it.

While there may be a handful of recycling centres buying up common recyclable items such as plastic, paper and metals, the same can’t be said for e-waste; a term used to describe old, damaged or expired electrical appliances.

Apart from e-waste spurred by domestic consumption, Indonesia is also a ‘dumping site’ for old electronics. Used electronics sometimes come in the form of “donations” from developed countries. In some cases, however, what was intended as a used gift immediately becomes junk because most of the old electronics brought into the country were already out-dated and no longer useful.

Used batteries are a form of e-waste, too. While households or janitors sort their trash into recyclables and non-recyclables, certain recyclable items like used batteries are unfortunately thrown into the non-recyclable pile as no recycling centre currently offers money for them. Batteries may be a life-saver and a great convenience for our phones and gadgets, but improper handling of used batteries can have devastating effects on the environment. If not disposed properly, e-waste in environmental systems rapidly degrades air, soil, and water conditions causing negative flow-on effects to local ecosystems.

Exposure to chemicals from e waste — including lead and mercury could damage the brain, affect the kidneys and liver as well as cause birth defects. People can be exposed through industrial activities as well as in daily life through the consumption of contaminated drinking water and food as well as through direct contact. Hence, recycling e-waste is the only way to prevent these toxic materials from affecting human health and the environment.

While some are aware of the dangers of e-waste, many still dispose their used batteries in the dustbin, knowing it will end up contaminating the environment somewhere, but nothing much can be done about it as there was no special recycling centre for such waste.

E-waste management is a new thing in Indonesia and people have talked about it only recently. Experts have highlighted that a lack of regulations is hampering the country’s efforts to manage e-waste. As for now most e-waste is dumped in landfills run by private waste management companies.

A good way to handle e-waste would be to separate it from other trash and return it back to the manufacturers. However most manufacturers are reluctant to manage their e-waste because it costs a lot of money and furthermore there’s no binding regulation — that’s why we need legal and governmental pressure to make it mandatory for them.

The good news is that the Environment Ministry is currently preparing regulations on Extended Producer Responsibility, which would require electronics companies to be responsible for collecting and recycling e-waste. Furthermore, there are plans to eventually open e-waste recycling facilities locally in the future.

It’s important that we change our ways and start recycling today. For starters, we could bring our own bag to supermarkets, use refillable bottles and bringing our own containers when we order a take-out. Recycling not only saves energy, it preserves the earth’s natural resources and reduces pollution. One Coca-Cola can and one Energizer battery at a time, we can make a difference and save planet earth.

Cash for your Trash

NewspapersRp.700 per kg
Books and MagazinesRp.700 – Rp.1,150 per kg
Carton boxesRp.1,500 – Rp.2,000 per kg
Paper filesRp.1,200- Rp.1,500 per kg
Glass bottlesRp.750-Rp.900 per kg
Plastic water bottlesRp.2,700 per kg
Plastic detergent bottlesRp.4,000 per kg
Plastic bags and strawsRp.500 per kg
Aluminium and other metalsRp.9,000 per kg

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