The COVID-19 pandemic has created a wide impact on various sectors starting from the health sector to the economic sector. The environmental disruption caused by the pandemic in Indonesia is also equally devastating. Although the Provincial Government of DKI Jakarta claimed that the amount of waste dumped in TPST Bantargebang was decreasing, the amount of plastic waste has increased to 21% compared to the amount of plastic waste in 2019 which was only 18%. This data shows that during the COVID-19 pandemic, solid waste management faces more difficult challenges. The use of disposable items or the use of plastic as packaging for online shopping, for example, is one of the causes of the increasing amount of plastic waste.
Furthermore, the waste management system in Indonesia also continues to face other challenges due to the pandemic. For instance, medical waste such as disposable masks from the domestic sector now has become a common sight in the landfill. This happened because of the lack of waste processing and sorting. This waste is labelled as a hazardous waste because it is categorized as infectious waste which could be potentially contaminated by the virus. Therefore, The Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) has issued a circular letter (SE.2 / MENLHK / PSLB3 / PLB.3 / 3/2020) on the management of infectious waste which tends to increase during the pandemic.
The government urges the public to manage their waste according to health protocols. Here is the recommendation suggested by the government to manage waste during the pandemic:
- Waste management operators and collectors must be equipped with PPE, especially masks, gloves, and safety shoes.
- To reduce the amount of disposable mask, people are encouraged to use reusable masks that can be washed every day
- The disposable mask has to be torn, cut, clipped, packaged, and marked before being disposed.
- The local government is expected to provide special trash bins for masks in public spaces
Besides that, we can also try to reduce waste during this pandemic by reducing the use of disposable items and processing the waste that we produce wisely. For example, in this new normal era, we can adopt a more sustainable lifestyle by using reusable bottles, shopping bags, cloth masks, etc.
We can also spend our time at home by being more creative with waste that we produced at home. For instance, recycling inorganic waste or composting organic waste. With this, we hope we can help the environment to be more sustainable and help to reduce the spread of the virus with a simple action such as start living a more sustainable lifestyle and consistently implementing health protocols in our daily lives.