Surabaya's Waste Reduction Strategy
The government of the City of Surabaya excels in waste management by involving the residents. The key is in budget allocation and a supportive bureaucratic structure.
TWO fully-loaded garbage carts stood in front of a building with a board saying ‘Jambangan Recycling Center’ at the Jambangan sub-district in Surabaya, East Java on Monday, February 15. Under the scorching sun, two attendants moved the waste from the carts to a conveyor belt. A variety of household rubbish moved into the building through a hole in the wall. Inside, other attendants were ready for the next step.
Through a 30-meter conveyor, the trash is separated into organic and non-organic waste. Recyclable plastic, cardboard, plastic bottles, glass bottles, and cans are gathered into baskets. “Non-recyclable waste are taken to the waste final disposal site (TPA), while recyclable waste will be picked up by collectors,” said Asyari, supervisor at the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Waste Processing Site (TPS3R) in Jambangan.
The organic waste which is already separated from the non-organic ones is then processed into compost fertilizer, by mixing it with crushed leaves. Surabaya residents can pick up the fertilizer for free by showing their identity cards and a letter from their local neighborhood administrator. The fertilizer is also used to fertilize trees and plants at city parks.
Not all non-organic waste, which cannot be recycled, is taken to the TPA. Part of it is processed at Jambangan’s Waste Power Plant (PLTSa), located at the same location as the Jambangan recycling facility. Asyari said that the PLTSa can produce four kilowatts of electricity by processing between 50 and 70 kilograms of waste. “The capacity is still small,” he said.
Even so, Asyari added, by having the TPS3R, the amount of household waste has been reduced by up to 50 percent. Between five and six tons of household waste—equal to between 25 and 30 carts of trash—from the community is processed at Jambangan’s TPS3R every day. After the sorting process, only three tons go to TPA Benowo.
Besides using the TPS3R and PLTSa to reduce waste, the Surabaya City Administration has activated environmental cadres at every neighborhood since 2005. These people educate the community about the environment. “We give them incentives,” said Arif Sugiharto, Chief of Surabaya’s Facilities and Infrastructure for Sanitation and Green Space. Currently there are around 23,000 environmental cadres.
One of them, Risnani Pudji, said that she, together with Jambangan residents, sort and process household waste. Recyclable trash is gathered at the waste bank at every community unit (RW). “Recyclable waste is made into crafts and can be sold.” Wet waste is turned into compost with the help of the Sanitation Services Office. Support also comes from the Environmental Services Office in the form of tools to make biopores to create water catchment, maggots—black soldier flies or Hermetia illucens—and Takakura baskets.
Risnani points out that the majority of Surabaya residents are environmentally conscious. They realize that trash is not allowed to be burned or thrown away by the river. Residents on riverbanks no longer throw away rubbish into rivers. “Even diapers are no longer thrown away randomly. Residents put them into drop boxes,” she said.
Arif said that Surabaya residents produce between 1,500 and 1,600 tons of waste a day. Unrecyclable waste is taken to the 37.4-hectare Benowo TPA. In the future, PLTSa Benowo will be able to use the gasification technology. This PLTSa is able to process 1,000 tons of rubbish a day to produce 11 megawatt of electricity. “It’s not yet operational now,” said Arif about the joint project between the City of Surabaya and Sumber Organik, which has a 20-year projection starting from 2012.
The waste management of the City of Surabaya has become an example for other regions. Surabaya has collected 25 Adipura Awards, which nine of them are Adipura Kencana, an award dedicated to a city with good performance in sustainable environment management from the ministry of environment and forestry. “Surabaya has proved that the TPS3R can work well when fully managed by the government,” said Executive Director of Perkumpulan Yaksa Pelestari Bumi Berkelanjutan (association of sustainable earth guardians) David Sutasurya. “The government is able to implement the policies consistently and massively, not only depends on the awareness of the people or market system.”
The founder and Chief Executive Officer of Wasted4Change Mohamad Bijaksana Junerosano said that the key of Surabaya’s success is that the city mayor knows exactly that waste is not a trivial problem and needs an institution. “Surabaya is the only region that maintains sanitation services office and it’s not merged with environmental services office.”