Reducing Waste, Generating Electricity

Opportunity is not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about the waste management issue in Indonesia, as put forth by Casper Klynge, the Danish ambassador in Indonesia.

As a matter of fact, as reported by CNN Indonesia per February 2016, Indonesia stands at the second rank, at 187.2 million tonnes, behind China, at 262.9 million tonnes, in terms of the amount of plastic waste generated.

Additionally, over 60% of the waste produced in Indonesia is not grouped based on their characteristics and simply thrown away.

As a former exchange student in Denmark, I admit that there is a lot we can take from Denmark - culturally, socially, as well as environmentally. My largest enchantment to their system are the deposit system (pant), recycling stations (genbrugsplads), and waste-powered electricity generators, three game-changers that would bring about the needed change in the Indonesian energy sector, as well as benefit both countries in the long run, if implemented accordingly.

In Indonesia, soda, milk, and other beverages’ bottles and cans have not been optimally managed. Nonetheless, since 2008, pursuant to Act no 18 regarding Waste Management, the Indonesian government has realized the importance of reshaping the common paradigm on waste management.

Litters should not be seen as merely byproducts of households, manufacturers, shops, and other entities. Yet, it should be seen as economic commodities. Waste banks (Bank Sampah) have been existent in Indonesia with various public and private entities as the organizers. People are allowed to submit their litters to these banks. These litters are categorized into two groups: organic and inorganic. Then, the submitters can create an account, equivalent to those in financial banks, in which the collected litters are designated a certain monetary value. It is up to the account holders when to withdraw the money. Other schemes are also be found. For instance, a waste bank in Malang established by Gamal Albinsaid, turns these intrinsic monetary values into insurance premiums.

The results, too, have been quite promising. In February 2012, there were 471 waste banks, 47.125 waste bank customers, and 755.600 kg/month managed waste with Rp1.648.320.000 worth monetary value. In May 2012, 84.623 customers, and 2.001.788 kg/month managed waste with Rp3.182.281.000 monetary value marked a fair increase on the numbers. However, it often still fall short of the actual waste production in Indonesia, as Indonesia reportedly produces around 175.000 tons of waste daily. On the other side, electrification rate still lingers around 88,30%.

The deposit (pant) system charges an additional of 1-3 DKK (Rp2000-Rp6000) of every plastic, aluminium, and glass bottles and cans. Every bottle and can has different labels: Pant A, B, and C, according to its types. These fees are refundable whenever the customers hand in these bottles and cans into a bottle machine (flaskeautomat) which is available at most supermarkets and large grocery stores. Other things, such as garden waste, electronics, even bricks, will also be recycled as people can pool them at the recycling stations (genbrugsplads). In Denmark, waste is incinerated when it cannot be recycled, and when residues from incineration do not cause environmental problems. Energy is recovered for generation of electricity and heating. This presents a greater opportunity for cooperation between Indonesia and Denmark to fulfill 35.000 MW of Indonesia’s electricity generation within 2020.

Denmark, as aforementioned, can penetrate the Indonesian market through three aspects: deposit, recycling, and waste-to-energy system. Danida Business Partnership might play its significant role in assessing the interested Danish companies prior to entrance to the Indonesian market. Since establishing extra deposit on cans and bottles of all sorts would bring about an overhaul of the legislation, it would require Indonesia to adopt the Danish deposit system phase-by-phase. The economic impact of such policy also has to be well assessed prior to its kickstart. Dansk Retursystem would be a suitable partner for Indonesia in related initiatives. The partnership could be in form of foreign direct investment, or simply technology transfers through trainings and visits.

Initiatives regarding recycling have been undertaken by various public and private parties. Yet, to show the eagerness and seriousness of this matter, the Indonesian government has to develop a comprehensive system throughout the nation. Establishing and managing recycling centers would be a feasible option, yet it would require a long process of knowledge transfer. The Danish Environmental Agency surely has the needed know-how.

As electricity shortage is still a significant issue in Indonesia, utilizing the generated waste would be an ideal solution. Denmark is well known for its waste-to-energy solution. Incinerating waste to produce heat and electricity is a norm in Denmark, as their technology ensures hazardous materials at its minimum. In Indonesia, we have several waste based electricity generators. In Gedebage, Bandung, a waste-based electricity generator incinerates 2000-3000 cubic meters of waste in order to generate 7 MW electricity.

However, the mere concept of incineration oftentimes still stirs up discussions, debates, as well as oppositions from the local residents. Seeing the bright side, other alternatives of technologies are actually accessible, still with the same objective to generate electricity, such as gasification, thermal process, and pyrolysis. Ramboll Group is a renowned Danish waste management consultant which provides waste strategy development, technology assessment, business case preparation, technical training, as well as contract management.

Fundings and terms of agreements are also the points which are always negotiable, as long as both countries are earnest in their pursuit of a mutually fruitful agreement, as well as moving one step further in reducing the energy gap in Indonesia.
Like what you read? Give Nito Waruwu a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.