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Illustration of Final Disposal Sites.
Illustration of Final Disposal Sites. (Source: Zibik/Unsplash)

Not often we hear how waste is related to climate change. The fact is, if not managed properly, the rest of our consumption and production can become waste that contributes to methane gas. Methane gas is one of the greenhouse gases (GHG) that cause the greenhouse effect, which further encourages global warming.

In his research about methane gas from waste management, Arie Herlambang said that currently there are approximately 450 landfills (Indonesian: Tempat Pembuangan Akhir/TPA) in big cities with open dumping system. This system allows waste to be dumped in the TPA without further action. At the implication, waste build up, raising the risk of landslide.

Herlambang said that these waste were generated from 45 major cities in Indonesia and reached 4 million tons/year. Projected methane gas that’s produced from these waste reach up to 11,390 tons of CH4 / year, or equal to 239,199 tons of CO2 / year. This amount represents 64% of total carbon emission from waste originating from 10 major cities in Indonesia: Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Medan, Semarang, Palembang, Makassar, Bekasi, Depok, and Tangerang.

Citing WWF Indonesia, they will be carried and buried in a landfill when we throw food into the trash. Then, when the waste is at the bottom, it will decompose to form methane gas. As a greenhouse gas, methane gas will damage the earth’s ozone layer, further exposing earth to even higher warming. According to a research conducted by Bernt Johnke, burning waste can also produce greenhouse gases, such as CO2, N2O, NOx, NH3, and organic carbon. CO2 is the main gas produced by burning waste and is produced quite high compared to other gas emissions.

We’re Still Seeking Alternatives to Indonesia’s Waste Management

Food Waste Illustration.
Food Waste Illustration. (Source: Jasmin Sessler/Unsplash)

Open dumping is still the most widely practiced system in various cities in Indonesia. Not surprisingly, this system is threatening the environment. Ideally, Indonesia should manage waste through controlled landfills and sanitary landfills. Controlled landfill is an advanced system of open dumping, where waste is leveled and compacted, then covered with a layer of soil every week.

Meanwhile, sanitary landfill is the international standard of waste disposal. With sanitary landfill, waste is compacted and leveled, then covered with a layer of soil every day. Due to high operational costs, this system is rarely used in Indonesian landfills.

Another waste management system that is also used in Indonesia is incineration, using a device called an incinerator. Incinerators are used to burn solid waste and are operated by utilizing combustion technology at a certain temperature. This technology is an alternative to reduce the accumulation of waste because it involves combustion at high temperatures, and the heat energy produced can be used as a source of electricity (waste to energy).

Early last August, the DKI Jakarta Provincial Government announced a plan to build an incinerator in Tebet Park, to accommodate the waste of Jakarta residents which can no longer be accommodated in the Bantargebang landfill. This plan has attracted criticism from various experts, considering Jakarta has inadequate, if not scarce, urban green space (RTH/Ruang Terbuka Hijau), and the process of changing the function of Taman Tebet will further reduce the number of urban green space in Jakarta. Green open space in urban areas serves a function to absorb greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, public health experts also reminded the danger of incinerators for health and the environment. Incinerators produce dioxin compounds, the most toxic compounds that cause diseases such as cancer, reproductive diseases, and immune damage. In addition to dioxins, incinerators also spew mercury and particulate matter. Mercury can be bad for the nerves and brain development of children, while particles cause decreased lung function, cancer, heart attacks, and premature death. Finally, the incinerator also produces ash which is included in the category of hazardous and toxic waste (B3 waste), which is expensive to handle because of its hazardous nature.

Indonesia’s Sustainable Waste Management Still Relies On Community

Plastic Waste Illustration
Plastic Waste Illustration. (Source: Magda Ehlers/Pexels)

The waste management system in Indonesia has not yet implemented massive waste segregation. When you have sorted your waste from home, the waste will likely be mixed again after being transported. This complicates the sustainable management of waste in Indonesia, as well as boosts the rate of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

Green generation, sustainable waste management in Indonesia is still very dependent on the application of sustainable consumption and production by individuals. When the inorganic waste that we produce is still difficult to manage and recycle, it is better to implement a reduction and reuse system (reduce and reuse). Meanwhile, organic waste, such as food scraps and leaf waste, can be managed by composting from home.

Written by: Yohanna Christiani


Arie Herlambang, HS d. KW, 2010. Methane Gas Production From Waste Processing. pp. 389 – 399.

Johnke, B., nd Emissions from Waste Incineration. Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, pp. 455-468.

https://mdpi.com/2076-3298/8/8/73/pdf accessed on 3 September 2021.

https://mongabay.co.id/2019/02/22/open-dumping-sampah-harus-segera-ditinggalkan-bagaimana-langkahnya/ accessed on 3 September 2021.

https://mutuinstitute.com/post/apa-itu-alat-incinerator/ accessed on 3 September 2021.

https://theconversation.com/insinerator-sampah-akan-perparah-pencemaran-udara-jakarta-114017 accessed on 3 September 2021.

https://wwf.id/program/iklim-dan-energi accessed on 3 September 2021.

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