April 22, 2010 | General

Community-Based Organics Diversion (Indonesia)

BioCycle April 2010, Vol. 51, No. 4, p. 57
Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, has implemented Southeast Asia’s most extensive and ambitious community-based composting program.
Martin Medina

SURABAYA is the second largest city in Indonesia, with a population that exceeds 3 million. It is an important commercial and industrial center for the region. The city’s production and consumption activities generate over 1,700 metric tons/day of waste, which translates into a waste generation rate of 1.23 lbs/person per day. Table 1 shows sources of the waste and Table 2 the composition of the waste.
Surabaya residents use various kinds of storage bins for their waste. The most common are plastic and metal bins, but brick structures in front of the house are also common. The capacity of these bins range from 1.8 to 31.7 gallons (70 to about 120 liters). These containers are usually open, allowing flies, rats and other animals, access to the waste materials. Residents simply put their garbage into the bins and collectors pick it up, usually the next day.
Surabaya, like other cities in Indonesia, is divided into kampungs, or neighborhood units. The Kampung Improvement Programme (KIP) promotes community participation and empowerment in solving its own problems. Solid waste management is an important issue addressed in the KIP. Each kampung is responsible for collecting waste generated within its boundaries. The local government and professionals provide technical assistance to the kampungs if requested. Kampungs have neighborhood associations known as Rukun Warga, which are not part of city government. Each of these units is independent, and each organizes the community to provide pushcarts, and to pay the collectors’ wages.
The system works as follows: Households pay user fees; the amount is determined collectively by the community. This fee, for practical purposes and ease of payment, is combined with other fees into a “community fee” that is added to the residents’ water bills.

Waste Collection
Collectors pick up waste from the storage bins using bamboo baskets and transport it in pushcarts. When the garbage is not contained in bags it sometimes misses the pushcart, spreading refuse on the street. Arrangements are made within each community for collecting the waste and for taking it to transfer stations. Waste is collected by the municipality from the transfer stations and transported by trucks to the final disposal sites.
Collection of waste from commercial and institutional areas is carried out by the city’s Cleansing Department. Some of the larger generators arrange collections separately, often contracted out to the private sector.
The city of Surabaya is responsible for hauling the wastes to the final disposal sites. Containers and trucks of various sizes and capacities are used. The collected waste is sent to two disposal sites: Keputih, about 4 miles east of the city, on an area of 100 acres (40.5 ha), and Bonowo, about 22 miles to the west, on an area of 40 acres (16 ha). Due to heavy traffic, it takes a long time to reach them, which limits each truck to a maximum of two trips to the disposal sites per day.
The Keputih disposal site has been operating since 1982. Lacking pollution controls, the site is an open dump, and waste is not covered, and is on a swamp and flat area. The water table is high and there is no source of soil nearby to use as cover. Due to the lack of cover, foul odors and fires are common, particularly during the dry season.
Surabaya also utilizes incineration and composting for waste management. Incineration has had various problems due to the low calorific content of the city’s waste.

Recycling Activities
Surabaya does not have a municipal recycling program, but scavengers have been recovering materials from waste for recycling and reuse for decades. Some of the materials are used to satisfy their own needs, but they also sell some. Paper, metals, glass and plastics are the most commonly recovered items. They salvage these materials, and sometimes clean and sort them before selling them to middlemen.
According to some studies, scavengers play an important role in the waste management system and in the economy of Surabaya, recovering an estimated 30 percent of waste generated by the city’s residents. Thus, scavenging reduces the amount of wastes that the communities must collect, and that the city must transport for final disposal. This represents significant savings for the city. Recycling also renders other benefits -income opportunities for vulnerable segments of the population and a supply of inexpensive raw materials to industry, improving its competitiveness.
Scavenging, however, can also create problems. While searching for reusable and recyclable materials, scavengers spread the waste and sometimes scatter it, making collection more difficult. Direct contact with waste also impacts scavenger health.

Composting Activities
As Table 2 shows, the waste generated in Surabaya is highly organic: more than 70 percent is compostable. The city is pursuing composting actively as a way to reduce the waste that needs transportation and final disposal, extending the life of disposal sites, saving money and preventing pollution. Further, Surabaya’s warm climate with an annual average temperature of 84°F (29°C) is ideal for composting. Over the past few years, the city has promoted household and community-based composting. This is the most extensive and ambitious composting program in Southeast Asia.
Household composting programs in Surabaya began in 2004, and have expanded quickly. Pusdakota, a local nongovernment organization (NGO), with technical assistance from the Kitakyushu International Techno-cooperative Association (KITA) from Japan, adopted the Takakura Composting Method. Each household has one or two composting baskets in which they deposit their kitchen waste, e.g., food leftovers and fruit peels. The organic waste needs to be cut up to accelerate decomposition; microorganisms are often added for the same purpose. In two to three weeks, the organic waste is converted into compost. Households use the compost in their backyards, as well as in pots. This method reduces the amount of garbage that needs collection by up to 50 percent.
The Surabaya municipal government realized the benefits of households composting. As of December 2009, it had purchased and distributed (free of charge) 19,000 composting baskets among residents at a cost of US $380,000. It costs the city $23/metric ton for collection and final disposal of wastes. The city expects to recoup this investment by diverting a significant amount of organics, which would bring savings in collection and disposal costs.
Several local NGOs distribute the composting baskets and teach residents how to do home composting, using a network of community leaders called environmental cadres. Only those residents trained by the environmental cadres receive the free composting baskets. The cadres also monitor use of the baskets and troubleshoot problems for residents in order to maximize their use. There are about 6,500 environmental cadres throughout the city.
Home composting is popular in Surabaya. The main incentive is that residents can sell the compost to Pusdakota for $0.07/Kg (2.2 lbs). It is not much in U.S. dollar terms, but any activity that increases household income in developing countries is usually welcome. In some cases, residents gather organics from other people, gardens or on the street in order to produce more compost and make more money from its sale. The number of communities with home composting activities increased from 325 in 2005 to 1,797 in 2009.
Not every resident, however, is willing to practice home composting. Even though it is easy to do, it requires cutting up waste in small pieces and the process must be monitored. Many residents simply prefer to put all their garbage outside their homes for collection.
To capture organics from residents who don’t compost at home, the city supports composting projects at the community level. Pusdakota started a pilot program in 2004 and today it collects about 1.4 metric tons of organics from 1,000 households a day, producing 10 metric tons of compost every month. Households separate the organics from the trash and put them in a second bin. Pusdakota staff collects the organic matter in pushcarts. The compost is sold to the city, as well as to farmers, private vendors, schools and residents. One of the remarkable features of this community composting center is it generates a profit of US $300/month. Demand for compost is largely seasonal and during several months the product needs to be stored until it can be sold.
The city also operates 13 community-based composting centers throughout the urban area that process organics from markets, streets and parks, producing 300 metric tons/month of compost, which is used mostly by the city. Three methods are commonly used at the community compost facilities: the “Takakura susun,” which uses compost bins stacked one on top of another, compost piles, and windrows.
Composting activities in Surabaya reduced the generation of greenhouse gases in landfills by about 8,000 tons of CO2 equivalent in 2009. The experience of Surabaya demonstrates that home and community-based composting projects can be successfully implemented in a developing country, generating social, economic and environmental benefits.

Martin Medina received a Ph.D. from Yale University and has been a waste management consultant for the World Bank, the InterAmerican Development Bank, the United Nations and others for projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. The research for this project was funded by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) in Japan. He also gratefully acknowledges the assistance from Pusdakota.

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