Waste Banks

It is remarkable that hundreds of millions of Dollars poured into theresearch of centralized large scale waste facilities in Indonesia (like the TEMESI waste recovery facility) that generate only a few if any replications, while small scale decentralized waste banks for a fraction of 1000 Dollar multiply very rapidly throughout Indonesia without much assistance or funding. Why? Because they present unprecedented win-win situations, while easy and cheap to implement.

A New Concept

Decentralized waste banks, trash banks, garbage banks or Bank Sampah as they are called in Indonesia are a new convincing concept for waste management. The Ministry of Environment of Indonesia promotes Waste Banks as the new strategic program. According to the ministry, garbage management with a lot of positive impacts through the waste bank development program is inseparable from the participation of people, especially from the grassroots level.

Waste banks are set up in neighborhoods typically for about 1000 residents and are usually run by poorer people who wish to increase their income. Bank customers bring all non-organic waste to the banks where it is treated like a deposit. Transactions are recorded preferably in a bank book that the customer holds or alternatively in lists kept by the bank. Many banks also accept organic waste while the rest endorses composting at home. The waste banks sell the deposited material to mobile agents for reuse or recycling. Thus the waste deposits are transformed into money that can be withdrawn when needed after a contribution of about 15 % is deducted for the bank’s operating costs.

bank-sampah bank-sampah02

The Concept Became Viral

The first wastebank was founded in February 2008 in the village of Badegan in the Regionof Bantul, Yogyakarta. It is claimed that it was the first bank sampahworldwide. Soon the number of banks began to grow exponentially. In February 2012 there were 471 banks and at the end of June 2012 already 728 banks that generated 31.2 million Rupiah per month.According to Ministry of Environment, Indonesia had by June 2013 1,195 trash banks in 58 districts and cities employing 106,000 workers. Many companies made waste banks a part of their corporate social responsibility.

By 2014 the Ministry of Environment has set itself a target to develop trash banks in 250 cities across Indonesia with 25 trash banks in each city amounting to additional 6,250 banks. By 2014, Surabaya had more than 28 decentralized waste facilities running, while a centralized bank was discontinued. Tangerang (west of Jakarta with a population of about 2 million) plans to have 1000 waste banks in 2014, while in the Depok area (south of Jakarta with about the same population) a total of 2,000 units of waste bank are expected to be available by 2014 with help of Shell Indonesia.The TEMESI recycling facility opened its own model waste bank in August 2014.

If this rapid growth continues, Indonesia will be heading towards a veritable revolution in waste management. To serve the 250 million residents of Indonesia, 250,000waste banks each serving 1000 residents are needed. It is estimated that by the end 2015about 5 % of the population will be served by 15,000 waste banks and nothing can stop further growth.The result is a significant contribution to recycling. It was also a lesson learned from the TEMESI waste recovery project that decentralized small scale bottom up projects have a much larger potential than top down centralized approaches, which meet many obstacles.

bank-sampah03 bank-sampah04

Many Win-win Situations

One would be hard pressed to find an argument against waste banks. Here are some of the compelling advantages:

  • Waste banks profoundly change the waste habits of those who are already customers:
    • Waste becomes a source of money, shared between the waste banks and its customers
    • Waste is collected rather than thrown away
    • Waste is separated at source to be sold
    • Waste types are kept from being contaminated as this would reduce their value
  • A model application of the 3-Re concept, reduce, reuse and recycle
  • A cleaner environment as less waste is burned or discharged into nature
  • Simple logistics
  • Compost is easier sold in small quantities in a neighborhood situation
  • Avoidance of the strong greenhouse gas methane that would be generated in landfills
  • No costly waste separation and operating costs as encountered in large waste recovery facilities
  • Significantly less volume needs to be disposed in landfills
  • There is no limit to growth for waste banks and it is feasible that the whole country becomes covered with them.

Research papers on Bank Sampahs (in bahasa Indonesia):