Lenny Tristia Tambun
At the army housing complex in Rawajati, in the Pancoran subdistrict of South Jakarta, garbage, ironically, has helped bring about a better environment.
The complex is shady and lush green, clean and orderly. It also has plenty of green open spaces, including one where a neat little building houses 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 and for the neighborhood.
The bank’s profit, which on average reaches Rp 200,000 ($20) per week, is used to pay for repairs of local public facilities as well as the greening of the neighborhood’s environment.
Despite dealing in garbage, the Tasake bank is a clean and orderly place with six large covered containers to store different types of waste.
Niniek Nuryanto, the head of the Tasake bank here, said the project started with local housewives in 2003 and obtained its present venue in January 2011. The benefits of the bank quickly attracted others, and the bank now counts 113 residents of the RW03 neighborhood as its members.
“We ask residents of RW 03 to sort their household waste and sell them to us. This can help the economy of local residents,” Niniek said while waiting for a visit by Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo on Friday.
The bank buys newspaper and cardboard at Rp 700 per kilogram, plastic bags and straw at Rp 400 per kilogram, books and magazine at Rp 500 per kilogram, aluminum and other metals at Rp 9,000 per kilogram, plastic water bottles and glasses at Rp 2,700 per kilogram, scrap iron at Rp 2,700 per kilogram, plastic detergent packages at Rp 4,000 per kilogram and aluminum tubes at Rp 2,500 per kilogram.
The bank’s garbage stocks are sold weekly to nearby recyclers and the proceeds are kept in a fund that can by used for various improvements in the community.
“Besides reselling the garbage, we recycle some of the plastic waste into practical products and we sell them,” Niniek added.
Local housewives and their daughters help in recycling plastic into various goods such as handbags, curtains, house ornaments and others. They also use bits of textiles and clothes to make quilts and bags. The proceeds from the sale of these products go to those who made them after a 10 percent cut is taken by the local housewives association (PKK).
“Recycling to create new products takes time, from gathering the materials to actually making them. This bag I am making out of plastic coffee packages has already taken me one month. I have to collect 350 coffee packages just to make one bag,” Niniek said, adding that she will sell the bag for Rp 125,000.
However, Niniek said the bank was now increasingly facing tough competition from roving garbage buyers who offered better prices.
“We are losing the competition,” she said.