The Problem

In Indonesia, as in many other tropical island nations, waste management systems are not always provided by the government. On small islands, such as the Banda Islands, a group of 11 islands located in the Banda Sea southeast of Ambon, Moluccas, there is often no solution for people to dispose of their trash. This goes along with a lack of awareness for the dangers that improper waste disposal can bring. The result is that trash is just thrown into the sea or is burnt in front of the house or in the garden, producing toxic fumes. Not surprisingly, Indonesia is the nation after China which has the highest amount of mismanaged plastic waste potentially becoming marine plastic debris (Jambeck et al. 2015, Science).

If once released into the oceans plastic debris starts to travel with ocean currents transporting them around the world. On its journey the plastic items are subjected to chemical, mechanical and biological degradation processes which leads to a steady break down into small particles (microplastic). In terms of particle numbers those microplastics account for the majority of ocean plastics. And even worse, they cannot be removed without having an impact on animals and plants in the ocean, as current removal operations basically resemble fishing activities.

Moreover, found concentrations of plastic debris in the ocean surface do not match with estimations on the amount of plastic debris entering the oceans. It is assumed that the majority of plastic debris starts to sink due to organisms which attach to the particles thereby increase their density. Once reaching the ocean floor it is impossible to remove it.

Our local solution

At BandaSea e.V. we are thus aiming to address the problem at its source, i.e. avoiding that trash gets washed into the sea in the first place. This approach is not only less expensive but also a very effective solution to the marine plastic debris problem and definitely more sustainable in the long run. We work locally with the aim to set up a model system for islands and groups of islands in Indonesia. Creating a model system at the Banda Islands shall help other communities in Indonesia to follow the example. Together, this will make a significant impact.

Since 2013, we have focused on the establishment of a waste management system on Banda Naira. We approach this issue by offering a two months rubbish pickup to the different villages on Naira and lately also on Banda Besar. This is organized and managed by Magga Fira, a former English teacher from Banda who has dedicated all his time and energy to turn Banda into a rubbish-free place. Magga’s salary is provided by the funds that we receive from donation and membership fees. Additionally to Magga’s salary, we pay the full rubbish pickup for two months per village. During these two months, Magga and a volunteer group from Banda, e.g. Kelompok Kreativ Anak Banda (KKAB), run an education program in which they explain why rubbish should be collected and the dangers of dumping it into the sea or burning it in the garden and how to separate different types of plastic and organic from inorganic. Organic waste goes to newly established compost facilities and is later sold as fertilizer to farmers, hard plastics (e.g. PET bottles) and thin plastic cups are collected to be shredded, pressed and sent for recycling to Surabaya, metals are also sold to traders coming by boat. Food packages are recycled into bags, wallets and other souvenirs to be sold to tourists and locals. There are still plastic types that cannot be recycled, for example, plastic bags. To reduce the amount of those, we are working on education programs to convince people of bringing their own shopping bags to the market.

Using this combination of facilitating rubbish pickup and educating people, we were able to include all 7 villages on Banda Naira and three communities on Banda Besar into the system. The best result: after 2 initial months of support, every community (apart from one that we had to support for 1.5 years with 20 € monthly and one that we had to support for 2 years with 35 € monthly) was able to cover the costs for the rubbish system without our input by organizing a payment system to which every household contributes with a small monthly fee.

Currently, incoming donations are needed to expand the collection system to more communities on the outer islands and to set up a bank sampah, a facility where people can bring their recyclable trash in return for money. The young group of Kelompok Kreatif Anak Banda (KKAB) is creating new products and designs from the plastic waste. These products can be bought at Banda Naira.

MORE ABOUT KKAB

Currently, incoming donations are needed to expand the collection system to more communities on the outer islands and to set up a bank sampah, a facility where people can bring their recyclable trash in return for money. The young group of Kelompok Kreatif Anak Banda (KKAB) is creating new products and designs from the plastic waste. These products can be bought at Banda Naira.

MORE ABOUT KKAB

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