Waste Management - The attempts by Indonesia’s third-largest city, Bandung, to solve its waste problem using the ‘zero-waste model’ are laudable.


  • Since 1987, Bandung had been dumping almost 4,000 cubic metres of mixed waste per day in the Leuwigajah landfill. 
  • On February 21, 2005, an avalanche of the accumulated waste at the site buried 71 houses and killed 143 people.
  • The incident led the Indonesian government to enact the Waste Management Law of 2008 with an intention to change its waste management from a collect, transport, dump scheme to a more integrated system that incorporated collection, sorting, recycling, and waste processing.

Challenges in Waste Management:

  • There was no agency solely responsible for waste management. 
  • While the law highlighted the need to sort waste, it did not prescribe enforcement strategies.
  • Community structures like the kelurahan (sub-district), or village or rukun warga (RW or Community Association) did not have the resources and the authority to require residents to sort/segregate their waste at source

Steps which helped in improving Waste Management:

  • Political Openness shown by new Mayor of Bandung
  • YPBB, a non-profit environmental organization collaborated with the government to develop the masterplan for Zero Waste Model.

About Zero Waste Model: 

It is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators, or the ocean.

  • In 2013 a public forum called Waste-Free Bandung Champion on waste management was organised to highlight the need to reduce landfill-bound waste through waste segregation at the source.
  • A pilot programme was initiated under this forum that aimed at segregating waste at the source for 25 houses. However, gaps in the pilot prevented full participation from the public.

Decisive role played by YPBB:

  • Problem Identification -
    • The city spends most of its funds as Transportation Cost ($6.8 million) in sending its waste to the Sarimukti landfill.
    • Not all wastes are captured by system as waste collectors are not available in all areas, leaving residents with no choice but to dispose their waste in the streets, rivers, or open dumps.
    • Several waste collectors reportedly burn waste because there are no transfer stations in their communities. 
    • In other cases, the absence of a mandatory sorting policy at the kelurahan or RW level encourages residents to simply refuse segregating their waste.
    • More than half of the household waste in the city, or 57 per cent, is organic. Recyclable waste constitutes 16 per cent while the remaining 27 per cent is residual waste
  • Zero Waste Cities Program Proposed by YPBB -
    • Under this Organic waste can be processed at home, in community composting facilities or city-level recycling stations, while recyclables may be sold by garbage collectors for additional income.
    • Instead of moving piles of trash to a dump site, the wet waste is treated in local plants via composting and bio-digester, and recyclable waste is channeled to junk shops, while residual waste is sent to the dumpsite.

Way Ahead:

  • Today, the Zero Waste Cities programme is present in 41 RWs (community structures) in Bandung. To support waste collection services in these 41 RWs, residents pay user fees to subsidise the salaries of waste collectors.
  • In 2017, a flagship programme called ‘Waste-Free Area Program’ or Kang Pisman to reduce, separate, and reuse waste was launched.
  • A new waste management regulation of 2018 ( Peraturan Daerah Kota Bandung) defines the role of the city government in waste sorting, collecting, managing, transporting, and final processing.
  • In 2019, Bandung city enacted regulation on plastic bag reduction. It envisions to manage 60 percent of organic waste within the confines of the city.