It’s not just about educating people to be aware of where their garbage ends; it’s about realising that proper waste management can be a blessing for the community. Photo courtesy of Bank Sampah Bersinar/NOW!JAKARTA

There are many waste banks in Indonesia, and these are much needed to overcome national waste issues. In Bandung, for instance, the 20-hectare Sari Mukti landfill is only capable of receiving 2,000 tonnes of waste, while the city and the regency produce around 7,000 tonnes of waste per day. Where are the other 5,000 going? Do we still want the conventional concept, using productive land for landfill?

The other problem is that the area of Terusan Bojongsoang, Baleendah, Bandung regency is flooded every year. The biggest cause of flooding is garbage. When it floods, children cannot go to school, usually turning them to be beggars, asking for money. 

To tackle the problem, a local took an initiative to educate people to manage the waste by establishing Bank Sampah Bersinar (Bersinar Waste Bank), which was set up with a simple mission, to encourage and educate people about waste management will eventually reduce, reuse and recycle waste through segregating the waste first. Segregating waste is believed that as sophisticated as waste recycling technology will not be optimal without well-sorting waste. Furthermore, as people’s knowledge increases, the economic value of waste then can also be put aside in waste management. 

"Each individual is a potential waste creator, the key lies in whether they are responsible for said waste. Our priority is not the amount of garbage is collected from the community, but how many people are educated about waste, about waste segregation, so people begin to understand and begin to realise, care and be responsible. This trash is something that we left in order to arrive somewhere. So far we never know where the garbage that we produce goes? Through the waste bank, we must ensure where our garbage is to the end, in addition to developing new culture and habits to the community. We are heading to a 4.0 waste bank with a clear system and professionally paid staff and we have good relationships with our customers from toddler, students, college students, housewives, professionals to the Indonesian armies,” explained Fei Febri, the CEO of Bank Sampah Bersinar.

Since it was founded in 2014, Bank Sampah Bersinar consistently drives community-based waste management. With registered members more than 8,000 and more than 200 unit points that spread all over andung city and regency, Bank Sampah Bersinar provides various community service programmes relating to waste management and the environment with modern methods and benefits to the community which is waste savings. 

Once residents arrive at the Bank Sampah Mandiri units or main bank with their bagsful of waste, the items will be weighed and they will receive cash from the officers on duty or in another form of substitute for money, such as shopping daily needs at Bank Sampah Mandiri’s mini market, paying for healthcare, electricity, water or phone credite even to buy clothes, motorcycle, gold and join the pilgrimage saving programme. 

"Our main vision is to make the community more prosperous through waste. We open music and English learning classes just by paying with trash. Children who carry five plastic bottle bins can join the classes. In fact, we also provide training scholarships to become ready-to-use programmers for vocational high school students who have the potential to pay for registration with 50 plastic bottle bins. For mothers and scavengers, they can learn to sort out the waste, later we calculate it per kilo for their savings and open up opportunities for them to learn to make compost," Fei explained how the offers were welcomed by the community and have successfully changed the habit of the people to be more aware of their garbage. 

Bank Sampah Bersinar receives about 70 kinds of waste, from pouch vegetable oils, plastic gallon water cap, sachets, copper, brass and many more. Every day the officers are busy arranging the schedule of the garbage transport car to pick up the waste and record the inclusion of garbage from the people in the amount of one to two tons. 

Bank Sampah Bersinar

Jalan Terusan Bojongsoang No. 174
Baleendah, Kecamatan Baleendah
Bandung, Jawa Barat 40375
T: +62 22 594 6942 or +62882 1844 9755

Sari Widiati

Sari Widiati

Sari has been an arts and culture enthusiast for many years. She has written extensively on the arts, travel, and social issues as Features Writer at NOW! Jakarta.