Waste lessons from Indonesia

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics | Indonesia Project

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 23 October 2019


Coombs Extension 1.13, Coombs Extension Building, Fellows Road, ANU


Lea Jellinek, Monash University


ANU Indonesia Project
+61 2 6125 5954

Handling waste is a major problem for governments. In Indonesia, open waste dumps are overflowing from Surabaya to Aceh. Waste is dramatically affecting the land, waterways, soils, sea, air and health of Indonesian citizens. A major problem for recycling is plastic mixed in with kitchen and garden waste.

The government’s answer is to build incinerators in preference to teaching people how to separate. The one incinerator built 20 years ago in Surabaya, had to be closed down within a week due to malfunction. National and local governments need to legislate waste separation at the household level but they fail to provide sufficient funds for facilities or household education. Regional laws against the dumping of waste in rivers and along roadsides exist are not enforced.

This talk investigates how people can be taught to separate waste and the different approaches adopted in Indonesia. Lea concludes that it is totally feasible to separate waste at the household level if the government and private corporations support this activity but ultimately corporations who produce the waste need to be responsible for reducing, recycle and reusing it.

Dr Lea Jellinek is Research Fellow at Monash Asia Institute. She is the author of The Wheel of Fortune: The history of a poor community in Jakarta. Currently she is writing a book Waste in Village Java (Monash University Press, Monash Uni. 2020) which describes her involvement over 20 years with the village of Sukunan in Yogyakarta. Recently she has travelled from Bali through Java to Aceh researching waste.

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