Jakarta (ANTARA) - On the morning of February 21, 2005, a garbage landslide in a 60-meter-high and 200-meter-long trash mountain at Leuwigajah landfill, Cimahi City, West Java, swept two residential areas and killed 157 people.

The tragedy was caused by heavy rainfall and a methane gas explosion in the trash mountain.

The catastrophe prompted the launch of National Waste Care Day (HPSN), which is commemorated every February 21 to raise people's awareness on the hazards posed by waste to the environment, society, and health, including people's lives.

"Through National Waste Care Day, we are commemorating a very heartbreaking tragedy. Waste can cause deaths, if we are negligent," Director General of Waste and Hazardous Substance Management at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Rosa Vivien Ratnawati said during the HPSN 2023 commemoration event in Jakarta on February 21, 2023.

Indonesia, which has a population of around 275 million, is currently facing serious problems due to waste.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry, through the National Waste Management Information System (SIPSN), recorded that the nation’s waste generation has reached 18.99 million tons per year. The data is an accumulation of inputted dynamic data from 157 districts and cities across Indonesia in 2022.

Of the total volume of waste, Indonesia can reduce waste by 5.03 million tons per year, or 26.5 percent, and handle 9.67 million tons of waste per year, or 50.94 percent.

Therefore, the volume of managed waste stands at 14.70 million tons, or around 77.44 percent, and the volume of unmanaged waste at 4.28 million tons, or about 22.56 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of landfills in Indonesia currently stands at 532. The country has 2,506 sites for waste-reducing, reusing, and recycling (TPS 3R), 13,716 waste banks, 4,118 composting sites, 291 creative product facilities, and 32 waste-to-energy management facilities.

Accurate strategy

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has proposed the Clean-from-Waste Indonesia 2025 program, which is based on Presidential Regulation Number 97 of 2017 on national policies and strategies for the management of household waste and other similar waste.

Through the program, Indonesia is targeting to handle 70 percent of waste and reduce the remaining 30 percent of waste through an upstream-to-downstream strategy.

The government is trying to raise the awareness of each household on handling their waste on their own through composting and maggot farming for organic waste as well as sorting inorganic waste and recycling it into crafts.

Data from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has shown that the majority, or 43.3 percent, of waste in Indonesia comes from households and 41.1 percent of household waste comprises leftover food.

Apart from its target of resolving the waste problem in households, the government also requires producers to reduce waste by redesigning their product packaging so that it can be easily recycled and withdrawing their inorganic waste from the community.

The ministry is also striving to manage waste maximally so that it no longer needs to be sent to landfills.

One of the efforts made in this regard has been the transformation of flammable waste and waste with high calorific value, such as plastics, papers, fabrics, leathers, and rubbers, into refuse-derived fuel (RDF) products.

RDF is a solid fuel that is a substitute for coal used in power plants and cement factories. The management of waste into RDF products can reduce the need for land for landfill sites.

There are several waste-to-energy plants (PLTSa) that are operating in Solo and Semarang, Central Java.

The PLTSa project is a collaboration program between the government and business players for utilizing energy from waste, reducing methane emissions by up to 30 percent by 2030, and realizing the carbon neutrality target by 2060.

With its various strategies for handling and reducing waste, the government is hoping that no more new landfills will be constructed by 2030, and Indonesia can be free from landfills starting from 2040.

Reducing emissions

The government is aiming to reduce emissions by reducing waste in the country through the zero waste and zero emission concept.

Ratnawati said that landfills, especially organic waste, make a great contribution to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

"We have a goal, if possible, no organic waste being disposed of in landfills," she said at a Climate Corner discussion on February 22, 2023.

In an effort to reduce emissions from waste, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry is encouraging the handling of organic waste through composting by launching the National Compost Day national movement in Jakarta on February 26.

At the launch event, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said that if all Indonesian people can compost their leftover food organic waste on their own at home, it is estimated that around 10.92 million tons of organic waste will not need to be sent to landfills, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 6.8 million tons.

Apart from composting, another solution is utilizing methane gas as a substitute for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or transforming it into electrical energy.

One example of methane gas utilization can be seen at the Semboro landfill in Probolinggo, East Java. Methane gas that has been purified is distributed to people's houses located around the landfill for operating gas stoves.

Meanwhile, one of the examples of the use of methane gas for electrical energy is Sei Mangkei biogas-fueled power plant (PLTBg) in Simalungun, North Sumatra, which has a capacity of 2.4 megawatts.

The PLTBg is being operated through a collaboration between state-owned oil and gas company PT Pertamina and state-owned plantation holding company PT Perkebunan Nusantara III. The PLTBg processes organic liquid waste generated from palm oil production.

With the collaboration between the community, the government, producers, and industry players that is also supported by technology utilization, resolving the waste problem would not be impossible for Indonesia.

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Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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