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Plastics Recycling and Tegal City, Indonesia's Mission to Become Landfill-Free

- Thursday, February 4, 2021

Let’s Do Recycling! Program Webinar Series

Following the success of its first webinar in the Let’s Do Recycling! Program (LDRP) Webinar Series, Trinseo held its second webinar with the topic “Is Zero Landfill Achievable in Indonesia by Banning Single-use Plastics? Regional Government’s Role is Critical” on December 1, 2020. Moderated by Hanggara Sukandar, Sustainability Director of Responsible Care® Indonesia, the webinar featured  speakers  Wahyudi Sulistya, Director of Kemasan Group, Muhamad Jumadi, Deputy Mayor of Tegal City, and Prispolly Lengkong, the Chairperson of Indonesian Scavenger Association (IPI). 28 national and regional media, 27 communities and 14 local governments in Indonesia participated.

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In 2019, Indonesia received worldwide attention as the Bantar Gebang landfill in Bekasi City, West Java was noted as the largest landfill in the world. While the waste management in many areas in Indonesia is still landfill-oriented, the Tegal City aims at becoming the first landfill-free city in Indonesia. Every day, residents of Tegal City produce 250 tons of waste, of which 30% is plastic waste. According to Jumadi, the solution to the plastic waste problem should be solved from upstream to downstream. It’s not enough to just implement a plastic ban, “There are 214 tons of total waste piling up landfills, and at present only 10% can be sent to the recycling industry. An integrated and circular system among various parties is needed so that the waste problem can be solved at the household level and at the waste management sites.” The Local Government of Tegal City is committed to better waste management. The roads in Tegal City Hall Complex, for example, were made of asphalt mixed with plastic waste. More importantly, Tegal City Environmental Service has been working with stakeholders in the value chain (the Kemasan Group, PT Trinseo Materials Indonesia, Indonesian Plastic Recycle Association, and the Indonesian Olefin, Aromatic and Plastic Industry Association) on a pilot project followed with the establishment of a waste management center to realize a total solution to waste problems in Tegal City. Machines are used in the waste management center to compress polystyrene waste and to perform waste sorting. Jumadi believes that local governments play an essential role in harmonizing the synergy across the private sector, government, community, and society in handling waste management by implementing regulated laws. With the success of the pilot project, Tegal City has managed to process 10 tons of waste per day. “Educational programs organized by the LDRP are very good so that people will understand about the real solution to the plastic waste problem,” added Jumadi. 

Lengkong added, “The scavenger profession relies on sorting waste, and many types of waste still have economic value, including plastic and PS Foam. IPI has also made various efforts to reduce the garbage pile in the Bantar Gebang by sorting and processing, involving more than 6,000 scavengers. We need support from the government, companies, and communities to solve the problem of reducing landfill waste.”

Sulistya also mentioned that, “The proposed ban on single-use plastic does not necessarily reduces plastic waste in the landfill. Prevention of plastic wastes from reaching the landfill does.” According to Wahyudi, there is no substitute for plastic in terms of low carbon emissions and costs, functionality, and durability.”

The second webinar received 28 positive media coverage reviews and was broadcast on Brava Radio on December 3, 2020.

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