If you are like me and you can’t bear the idea of throwing away a growing amount of plastic, metal and glass containers every day, contributing to the clutter of Jakarta’s streets, there is an alternative. Let me introduce you to the Jakarta Green Project.
Every Monday, a team of two sympathetic young men come to my house to pick up my recycling bin filled with baby food pots, wine bottles and other items that tell you way too much about my lifestyle. Anyway, that is not the point. The point is, it is a free service that does not take much more effort – apart from the occasional reminder to Yatmi, my pembantu, who tends to forget what is recyclable and what is not – and the best part, it is for a good cause!
The Jakarta Green Project was set up by KDM foundation more than ten years ago, with the help of Renie Elvina Tiurma, an impressive yet humble woman who is not only the manager of the project, but also a mother for so many children who are off the streets because of her. She recounts, ”…it all began in 2000 with a large pile of rubbish. At the time, there was no service to collect the waste from the street children foundation KDM’s campus, so it kept piling up. Things had to change. The children at KDM suggested that the recyclable waste could be sold on to the processors, just like Jakarta’s scavengers make their living. So, separation of KDM’s rubbish was introduced, and soon after, the selling of the recycling began to generate income for the children.”
Today, embassies, schools, offices (including Jakarta Expat) and hundreds of households use the services of the Jakarta Green Project. It provides employment for a dozen orphans who are now too old to stay at the orphanage. ”And with employment, they don’t only earn an income, they also learn new skills and gain independence”, Renie adds softly.
How does it work?
Every day, with two small trucks and sometimes Renie’s personal car, the Jakarta Green Project collects around 750 kg of recyclable items in Jakarta Selatan, Jakarta Pusat, Jakarta Timur and Jakarta Barat. After the collection, all the recyclable items are taken to Pondok Cabe where a further sorting is done. At the time of my visit, three young men were going through the thousands of bottles and cans collected the days before. There is no machinery. Everything is done by hand, very patiently. And indeed, patience they need, as it takes a huge amount of rubbish to turn it into money. As an example, one can of beer can be worth Rp.2,500, a glass bottle is around Rp.1,000, and a kilogram of plastic is worth about Rp.25,000. It all depends on the supplier.
How can you help?
Easy. Stop complaining that Jakarta is dirty and do your part by giving the Green Project your recyclables. You don’t need it anyway! To be part of the collecting route, you can subscribe online, by SMS or by email. You want to do more? Become a Jakarta Green Project ambassador by convincing your friends, neighbours, compound management and colleagues to join. The more they collect in the same area, the more efficient it is. You want to do even more? The project is looking for sponsors for two things: buy new trucks to cover more territories, and find a new location closer to town to sort out the recyclable items. The Jakarta Green Project are also looking for a new recycling plant partner, who will be able to provide them with better prices for their sold recyclables. Please get in touch if you can help!