In fact, a study conducted by the office of the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, in cooperation with the World Bank, showed that 80 percent of plastic waste thrown into Indonesia’s oceans came from 87 cities mostly on Java island.
While the Government has made various efforts to reduce this waste, the issue needs to be dealt with more seriously as it could damage the environment and spell doom for future generations.
The Government’s recent strategy has been to handle garbage in the form of waste-to-energy (WTE) power plants, which have been confirmed by the enactment of Presidential Regulation No. 35 of 2018 or the Acceleration of Eco-friendly Waste-to-Energy Power Plant Development.
The Bantargebang Landfill waste-to-energy plant, which is a pilot project of thermal process waste management, was dedicated by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan in Bekasi, on the outskirts of Jakarta, on March 25, 2019.
Jakarta generates about 7,000 kg of waste per day, which includes more than enough municipal waste input for WTE.
"Garbage, in my opinion, is a problem that has to be dealt with. We use domestic technology. This pilot project uses domestic components in almost the entire process," he remarked.
The waste-to-energy plant called PLTSa "Merah-Putih", which has a capacity to process 100 tons of garbage daily and produce 750 kWh of electricity, is aimed at solving the problem of urban waste in Indonesia.
"If we do not begin, when will we make progress? Later, if processing 100 tons per day works, we will replicate it in other cities, such as Labuan Bajo, Balige, Pontianak, and other cities that produce daily garbage of around 100-200 tons," he noted.
The replication of this pilot project is also expected to solve the landfill problem throughout the country.
BPPT Chairman Hammam Riza remarked that the PLTSa Merah-Putih utilizes thermal technology, which is environmentally friendly and economical, and uses mainly local components. It has been used in several other waste-to-energy plants in the world.
"This is a result of BPPT's study and built with local partners. Most of its equipment includes domestic products, so we proudly call it PLTSa Merah Putih," Riza remarked.
Meanwhile, Minister Nasir stated that the most important aspect of this pilot project is waste treatment and not electricity production. This is part of efforts to make the city cleaner.
"Do not think of energy production, but how to make Jakarta clean, and Bekasi clean. That is what matters. We should not calculate the cost per kWH," he added.
One month later, on April 28, 2019, Pandjaitan revealed that Indonesia has developed waste-to-energy power plants in 12 cities.
"Waste-to-energy plants are being utilized in cities to treat waste into energy," Luhut Pandjaitan said while launching the Clean Indonesia Movement.
Jakarta has a waste-to-energy power plant capable of treating 1,500 tons of waste daily.
The Government wants three to four waste-to-energy power plants to treat 8,000 tons of waste produced daily by Jakarta residents.
Similar plants exist in Medan (North Sumatra), Surabaya (East Java), Bali, Bandung (West Java), Manado (north Sulawesi) and several other cities.
The Government will also develop waste incinerators having minimal C02 in regions producing waste below 150 tons per day. "These incinerators will be located far from settlement areas," he said.
He urged everyone to reduce waste production. He also called for a lifestyle change to reduce the usage of single-use plastic products.
"If you go shopping, don't use plastic bags. Take your own reusable bags," the minister said.
Meanwhile, Indonesia had earlier explored the development of a waste-to-energy power plant in cooperation with the environmental conservation organization World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia and investors.
Last year, Pandjaitan discussed the development of alternative energy, specifically waste-based energy, with a chemical plastic recycling firm, Plastic Energy Limited.
Along with the founder and CEO of Plastic Energy Ltd Carlos Monreal, he witnessed the signing of a cooperation in waste collecting and processing into energy resources.
The cooperation was aimed at improving waste management and reducing sea waste in the Indonesian waters by processing plastic waste into energy.
"We are the only operator in the world that has succeeded in converting domestic plastic waste on a commercial scale using the recycling process of Thermal Anaerobic Technology (TAC). The process uses low carbon tracing technology that produces alternative fuel oil," Monreal said.
Monreal said his plant in Spain has produced some 850 liters of fuel oil for each ton of plastic waste.
The company has cooperated with WWF Indonesia to collect waste, educate people and get familiar with the system.
A local environmental NGO, the Indonesia Center for Environmental Law, however, has called for a review of WTE projects in the country stating that the Supreme Court (MA) has ruled that waste incineration is against the laws.
“The Supreme Court ruling clearly says that thermal technology is forbidden because it contravenes the laws. The government’s move is dangerous,” the center’s executive director Henri Subagio said in December last year.
EDITED BY INE