Lenny Tristia Tambun
The Army housing complex in Rawajati, in the Pancoran subdistrict of South Jakarta, has found a way to nurture a cleaner environment — by using garbage.
The complex is lush and shady, clean and orderly. It also has plenty of open green space, including one with a neat little building identified as a “Dry Garbage Savings Bank,” better known in the area by its Indonesian acronym, Tasake bank.
The bank buys dry garbage from local residents, such as paper, aluminum, cardboard, books and magazine, glass, plastic bottles and various household goods, and sells them at a profit to recyclers, providing revenue for local households.
The bank’s profit, which on average reaches Rp 200,000 ($21) per week, is used to pay for repairs of local public facilities as well as the greening of the neighborhood.
Despite taking in garbage, the Tasake bank is a clean and orderly place with six large covered containers used to store the different types of waste.
Niniek Nuryanto, the head of the Tasake bank here, said the project was started by local housewives in 2003 and obtained its present venue in January 2011.
Word of the benefits from the garbage collection scheme quickly attracted others, and the bank now counts 113 residents of the housing complex’s RW 03 community unit as its members.
“We asked residents of RW 03 to sort their household waste and sell it to us. This can help the economy of all local residents,” Niniek said.
The bank pays Rp 700 per kilogram of newspaper and cardboard.
Plastic bags and straws go for Rp 400 per kilogram, while plastic water bottles fetch Rp 2,700 per kilogram. Books and magazines sell for Rp 500 per kilogram, and aluminum and other metals bring in a more substantial Rp 9,000 per kilogram.
The bank’s garbage haul is sold on a weekly basis to nearby recyclers and the proceeds are used for various improvement in the community.
“Besides reselling the trash, we recycle some of the plastic waste to make practical products that we then sell,” Niniek said.
Some of the local women do their part to help by turning recycled plastic into various goods such as handbags, curtains, household ornaments and others.
They also use bits of textile and clothes to make quilts and bags. The proceeds from the sales of these products go back to those who make them, after a 10 percent cut for the local housewives’ association.
However, Niniek said the Tasake bank was facing tough competition from roving garbage buyers who offered better prices. “We’re losing the competition,” she said.